Volume 8, Issue 11 - December 2007

from the publisher

LEEDing to Greener Homes
by Tara Taffera

Green building was already going to be the topic of this month’s column, as there is a lot to share on this issue. But as the month went on, the topic became even more challenging. 

First, I attended McGraw Hill’s annual construction forecast conference at the end of October and heard the chief executive officer for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Rick Fedrizzi, talk about the success of LEED in the commercial market. Fedrizzi presented 109 slides and mentioned LEED for Homes only once. That fact isn’t too odd as this program is only in the pilot phase. However, after hearing about the residential program for a few years, I had planned on following up as to when this would become a reality.

Secondly, while doing some research on housing stats on the website of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) I learned that NAHB planned to launch a green building program at the International Builders’ Show® in February 2008.

My initial thought was that NAHB’s program would serve as competition for USGBC’s program, so then I really planned to look more into the pilot program. It turns out I didn’t need to. Charles Cumpston, a contributing editor for DWM, attended USGBC’s Greenbuild show in early November where the LEED for Homes program was launched officially. Now the industry has two programs. 

This is good news and I can only imagine that others may agree. Former President Clinton, the keynote speaker at Greenbuild, said there should never be another commercial building built that is not LEED-rated.

Will he be saying the same for homes in a few years? I’m guessing he may, but as of now, homeowners aren’t as eager as building owners to pay for high-performance windows. 

I have a few concerns about green building. Anyone can say their products, or their company for that matter, is green, but what does it actually mean? Will manufacturers be slapping green labels on windows that really don’t meet the criteria specific in programs such as those sponsored by the NAHB or USGBC? 

Cumpston spoke to Lou Podbelski, vice president sales and marketing for SAGE Electro-chromics, at Greenbuild, who said, “If you’re the least bit green, the audience is pre-sold. We’re riding the green wave.”

SAGE does offer energy-efficient products but what about companies that don’t? What about those who are just trying to ride the wave and turn green into gold as many companies are doing? 

What sets the newcomers and the wave-riders apart from those who have been involved in energy issues for years? Eric Ottem, senior market analyst for Andersen, told Cumpston, “It’s so steeped in Andersen’s culture; we’ve been doing it for 15 years.”

That’s not to say that the newcomers can’t get involved. In fact, they better. It’s just to say that there is a lot to be learned before jumping in. 

Stay tuned for what all of these energy issues will mean for door and window manufacturers. 


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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.