In testimony before Congress in mid June, the National Association of Home Builders praised H.R. 2336, the Green Act of 2009, which sets new green building and sustainability benchmarks for properties that get financial assistance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But NAHB President Jerry Howard also left members with a warning: H.R. 2454, the other major piece of climate change legislation now before Congress, includes requirements that conflict with H.R. 2336 - making the GREEN Act obsolete before it’s even signed.

“I am hopeful that this Subcommittee will be able to restore the balance necessary to truly incentivize green building and preserve affordability as the debate over climate change continues,” Howard said. “It would be terribly disappointing to see the good faith effort and collaborative work on the GREEN Act displaced with unworkable federal mandates as envisioned in H.R. 2454.”

Howard told lawmakers on the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity that the association's members agree with the bill’s approach, which will ensure cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements to HUD-financed homes.

Howard detailed the moves NAHB members have made toward creating more sustainable housing stock and the education, certification and training programs the association has launched to further that growth.

“We have a major role to play in the manner in which energy efficiency and sustainable technologies are introduced into the housing stock,” Howard said. “Despite the downturn, NAHB has not wavered in its commitment to promoting green building and energy efficiency in a manner that is affordable and effective, and legitimately improves energy efficiency for the next generation of housing.”

Howard asked Congress to rework some sections of Green Act’s text: It is unclear in the current draft whether new efficiency requirements apply to Federal Housing Authority-financed home purchases as well as to direct subsidy programs or competitive grants.

“The scope of the Green Act and the new programs that it creates is ambitious, but the intent is thoughtful and NAHB hopes that the resources will ultimately be available to develop the programs into effective tools to promote sustainable principles,” he said.