Building industry sppokesmen called this week for a uniform, nationwide approach to energy conservation in new residential construction.

At a forum at the headquarters of the National Association of Home Builders, builders were told about the proliferation of new codes, standards and recommended procedures that have resulted from increased energy consciousness.

While Don L. Gilchrist, head of the National Association of Home Manufacturers, said the home building industry prefers voluntary standards, other speakers indicated that home building procedures ultimately will be regulated in an effort to produce energy-efficient housing.

Alan R. Trellis, director of technical services for the National Association of Home Builders (which has recently instituted measures to save about 30 per cent of energy used in operating the building in which the meeting was held), said that NAHB is developing its own energy program for construction.

"We assume that the cost of fuel will increase 10 per cent a year, compounded, in the years ahead," Trellis said. "And with that assumption, we also want to take energy-saving measures and use equipment that will pay for itself, in savings to the home owner, over a maximum of seven years. That's the average rate of ownership before a home is sold to another person."

In explaining the NAHB goal in energy standards for houses to be built by members, Trellis said that considerations will include (1) fuel costs, (2) degree days (temperature related to heating and cooling needs) in various areas, and (3) efficiency of equipment installed in a house - "a highly important decision."

L. D. Elwell, assistant administrator for rural housing of the Farmer's Home Administration, said the agency now is completing reviews and work on its energy standards, which are expected to be ready for publication in 60 days.

Henry S. Wakabaysashe, energy program director for the National Conference of State on Building Codes and Standards, said that groups final version of its model code for interim standards, which must be adopted at state levels, would be available in July.

Meanwhile, a dialogue between some of the 200 builders, suppliers, consultants and officials in the audience and the speakers revealed considerable uncertainty as to what role the federal government, particularly the Energy Research and Development Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will play in applying energy-use standards to new consturction.