Housing Expert Sees Green Building as Growth Area

By Sharon McLoone
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, April 25, 2008; 2:24 PM

A housing industry expert told lawmakers yesterday that while home builders are suffering from the nation's current economic downturn and housing crisis, hope may be at hand in the form of energy efficient construction and green building.

Michael Hodgson, the owner of consulting firm ConSol, who testified (pdf) on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders before the House Small Business Committee, noted that small businesses dominate the home building industry. Sixty percent of the association's members build fewer than 25 homes per year and nearly 90 percent have less than $5 million in annual receipts, he said.

Members of the builders' association currently build about 80 percent of all new units in the United States and, "by 2010, green could make up about 10 percent or more of the housing market depending on the right mix of incentives and consumer education," said Hodgson in a Thursday morning hearing examining the role of small firms in stimulating the nation's economy.

According to the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, the majority of green-home builders and manufacturers of green building technologies are small businesses. "This is a significant and important fact because housing comprises 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product," he said.

Hodgson asked lawmakers to take multiple steps to help the growth of green building and energy efficiency throughout the nation.

First, he pushed for an extension and increased dollar amount of a $2,000 energy-efficient credit for home builders that is currently included in the tax code but is set to expire at the end of this year. "Although the House recently passed H.R. 5351, and the Senate also passed an amendment to its housing stimulus legislation that extends this credit, there is still no agreement between the chambers over the appropriate offsets," he said.

Hodgson also urged a keen focus on a national green building standard and noted the association's campaign for consumers and businesses on a national green building program.

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