In 2010, green building continued to be a hot topic within the building industry—from contractors and architects to government officials to the mainstream media. Steps forward—and even a few steps back—were made, and overall, momentum is strong heading into 2011. As the year winds down, here’s a roundup of some of EcoHome’s news highlights from the past 12 months.
Energy Star in Harsh Media Spotlight
In April, the EPA’s Energy Star program came under fire from the government and the media amid allegations of faulty certifications, lack of verifications, and potential decline in brand clout.
Business Leaders Urge Congress to Fix PACE Financing
Representatives of nearly 350 businesses from around the country lobbied federal lawmakers in September to pass legislation to revive PACE programs, which make green, energy-saving improvements more affordable for companies and homeowners.
Proposed Wood-Certification Benchmarks for LEED Fail to Win Enough Support
Proposed benchmark standards to determine when wood-certification groups would have their programs qualify for points in the LEED rating system failed to win the required two-thirds approval from a special group of USGBC members. The results represent the rejection of several years' worth of work by a USGBC committee and guarantees even more fighting over one of green construction's most bitterly debated issues.
Solar Power’s Price to Plummet
A federal government report issued in August concludes that by 2015 the cost of solar power will be the same as the cost of power from the electrical grid and could even be less by 2030.
Study: 95% of Green-Marketed Products Utilize Misleading Claims
In the 2010 edition of its “Sins of Greenwashing” report, released in October, environmental marketing company TerraChoice found some form of greenwashing in more than 95% of consumer products labeled as “green.” The construction sector by itself fared only slightly better, with greenwashing evidence in close to 94% of eco-marketed products
LEED for Neighborhood Development Launches
The new national standard for neighborhood design, launched in April, integrates the principles of green building, smart growth, and land conservation, and aims to reduce urban sprawl and automobile dependency by encouraging development within or near existing communities or public infrastructure.
New Orleans Slowly Embracing Sustainable Building Practices
Though previously entrenched in traditional, less-efficient building methods, some builders in the post-Katrina city are turning to new products and techniques to rebuild for durability, conservation, and health.
Baby Boomers, Gen Y, and the Recession Shift Long-Held Housing Tastes and Trends
As the housing industry continues to claw its way out of the downturn, the recession and unemployment picture are dramatically influencing the way consumers view homeownership, according a panel during the ULI fall conference in October. As the country’s two largest demographic groups—baby boomers and Generation Y—reassess priorities, household formation is down; tastes and demands are shifting toward walkable, transit-oriented communities; and the overall buyer profile within age groups is simply not as cut-and-dried as it once was.
Alex Wilson Wins 2010 Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing
Annual $50,000 award from The Hanley Foundation and EcoHome recognizes visionary environmental building editor, educator, and advocate.
NAHB Phases Out Home Certification Under Model Green Home Building Guidelines
The NAHB announced in March it was ending certifications under its Model Green Home Building Guidelines, making way for the ANSI National Green Building Standard to be the lone rating system certified by the NAHB Research Center.
Cincinnati AIA Compares LEED and NGBS
Cincinnati AIA’s detailed review of the programs--USGBC’s LEED for Homes and the ANSI-National Green Building Standard (NGBS)--was commissioned by the city to determine if the NGBS should be adopted as part of the city’s tax abatement program for green homes. The first-ever comparison found similarities as well as a few major differences.
Demand for Infill and Mixed-Use Projects Is Increasing
Ongoing weakness in single-family housing markets has resulted in dramatically fewer large residential developments, but according to the AIA’s third quarter 2010 Home Design Trends Survey, smaller infill developments close to public transit, commercial opportunities, and other amenities are filling some of the void.