Builders, remodelers and other members of the home building industry are back at work this week after more than 60,000 attended the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas last week.

Attendees took advantage of more than 250 educational sessions and exhibits showcasing products and services from more than 1,600  companies to arm themselves with information about the latest industry trends, research and new products-the better to respond to demand when the market returns.

“This attendance speaks to the optimism of our members and the nature of home builders to always anticipate the ‘next big thing’,” said newly elected NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder in Tulsa, Okla. “We continue to advocate for an economic stimulus package that recognizes how important the home building industry is to helping the nation get back on track-and when it does, we will be ready.”

Exhibitors noted the drop in attendance from more than 90,000 at the 2008 IBS but said they were not surprised, given the economy and underscored the importance of maintaining their presence on the show floor. An industry downturn brings out more serious inquiries and fewer “tire kickers,” they said.

“People are spending more time talking,” said Shawn Buckland of Adrian Steel in Adrian, Mich., a company that customizes the interiors of work vans and trailers for home builders.

Twice as many exhibitors showcased green product lines this year, including Progress Lighting of Greenville, S.C., which manufactures high-efficiency and LED light products. “Green is definitely the hot topic. People are very interested in understanding new lighting technology,” said Bob Sale, vice president of sales.

International Builders' Show exhibitors sprawled over 850,000 square feet of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, including outdoor displays of homes built on site for the Show. Industry professionals also attended educational events and training sessions on a variety of subjects ranging from land development techniques and building science to marketing tools and green product certification.

“We’re in the midst of an industry crisis, yet our members are still busy gaining knowledge about new products and techniques, and networking and learning from each other,” Robson observed. “I’m proud of the resilience of our members even as we work together to improve the market.”