Home builder interest in USGBC’s LEED for Homes green building certification program continues to climb, and houses registered this year could exceed 1% of new-home starts, a top USGBC official told EcoHome recently.

Nate Kredich, the group’s vice president of residential market development, reported that LEED for Homes project registrations have surpassed 8,500, an increase of more than 5,000 since October. More than 1,700 homes have been certified, an increase of more than 700.

Despite the down housing market, “Projects that have that determined focus on sustainability are moving forward,” Kredich said. “Our numbers are moving opposite the market.”

Interest in LEED for Homes spans all sectors, Kredich said, with affordable housing garnering a significant 40% share of certified units.

Another indicator of increasing home builder interest in eco-friendly practices is the overwhelming response to the inaugural Green Homebuilders’ Day at the USGBC’s annual Greenbuild conference last fall. More than 1,000 pros attended the dedicated workshop track.

“An awful lot of the people that had been coming were trying to pick the residential programs out of the master program,” said Kredich of Greenbuild’s largely commercial-focused programming. “The fact that we helped them streamline that was much appreciated.”

In response, the USGBC plans to expand the home builder-specific events across all three days of this year’s conference, which will be held Nov. 11-13 in Phoenix, including adding more workshops and a keynote. A special focus on affordable housing and a home tour also are being explored.

The USGBC’s goal for the remainder of 2009 is for LEED for Homes projects to capture a 1% market share, which the organization measures by comparing registrations to housing starts. “Based on the way we started the year, we’re well on our way to exceeding a 1% share.”