North Texas has had Parade of Homes before, but the event taking place this week will mark the first time that it consists of only resource-efficient, "green" homes.

Built to construction guidelines set forth by Green Built North Texas, the homes feature a long list of strategies that address energy efficiency, site management, material use, indoor air quality, waste recycling, and water efficiency, says Chris Miles, co-founder of Lewisville, Texas-based GreenCraft Builders and a green consultant on the homes to make sure the builders adhered to the guidelines.

The Parade of Homes also addresses how builders can improve the way they educate homeowners about the houses, which is important for the whole green movement. "When you're building green homes, it's important to explain to homeowners how the house works and how it will perform," Miles explains.

Parade of Homes is an open-house event where area builders showcase the latest innovations and building technologies directly to the public. "[It] general consists of 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot glamorous houses that are all based on aesthetics more than energy efficiency and green principles," Miles says. "These are different."

Indeed. The seven homes average around 3,200 square feet and feature a variety of nontraditional building techniques, such as spray foam insulation made from corn and rainwater harvesting. All of the homes have fresh-air exchange for cleaner indoors, siding that has a 25-year warranty or better, and plants that are able to sustain stage three water restrictions, which mean they can only be watered once a week.

Building these green home was challenging for most of the participating builders since most of them had never built sustainable houses or to Energy Star standards, Miles explains. "They went from zero to 60 in one house so there was a learning curve for them." This is not surprising, he says, because "Texas as a whole-with the exception of Austin-has been behind in adopting energy efficiency."

That is starting to change, Miles believes. As more home buyers ask for homes that save energy, builders will have to respond. "The interest is now there among buyers so this is not a trend. It is here to stay, and builders are going to have to head in this direction."