But Otto said her group, which is a private-public partnership that represents both the LEED program and the Department of Energy's Building America program, sees momentum building in the Washington area.
For instance, the Virginia group this summer will introduce a green-building certification program pioneered in Atlanta called the EarthCraft House. Working with the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association in Charlottesville and the state home builders group, the network will build five demonstration green houses this summer.
Geothermal well-drilling during construction of the Eastern Village condo building in Silver Spring.
(Photos Courtesy Of Edg Architects)
"It's taken us almost four years to make sure the program fits the Virginia building code and to get agreement with the home builders," said the network's Pamela Vosburgh. But as soon as the pilot is done, "we hope to take this statewide."
And in Howard County, work is underway on a $16 million apartment complex for seniors that is getting financial help from the state as the county's first truly "green" multifamily project. The Waverly Gardens Senior Apartments, a 102-unit complex in Woodstock, will have solar-heated water, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and other features. This week footings were being poured with recycled concrete and recycled steel.
In Silver Spring, Eastern Village, a 56-unit condo building opened last October with a rooftop green space, energy-efficient appliances and a geothermal heating system involving a grid of 40 wells dug 600 feet below the surface.
Also, for homeowners and builders who want to find out more about the possibilities, on May 21 the city of Gaithersburg and the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning, and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission are hosting a free, outdoor "Going Green at Home" fair at Wheaton Regional Park.
The proliferation of green guides and state, local and national programs can be confusing for homeowners, the experts agree. "There is some concern that all these initiatives will be so confusing that nobody will be able to figure it out," said Hackler, program manager for the LEED for Homes initiative. "But I use this analogy: Have you ever been to a grocery store where there are a lot of choices? Yet when we go in, we go right to the brand that serves our needs."
For instance, in Atlanta, he said, "they felt that the most compelling thing for consumers was not the energy savings but the indoor air quality [concerns]. They wanted to provide a safe and healthy environment for their children."
The Atlanta home builders found that people who picked houses built to the EarthCraft standards "saw an incredible improvement as far as their children's health."