Kermit the Frog sang, ``It's not easy being green.'' But the National Association of Home Builders is out to prove otherwise.
Green building was the buzz phrase at the International Builders' Show, held Jan. 13-16 in Orlando, as Washington-based NAHB revealed new voluntary guidelines for mainstream single-family homes, the first national guidelines for residential home construction.
Officials said green building has been limited to niche builders, those focused on high-end homes for wealthy clientele. NAHB is focusing on affordability, even for commercial construction. The association will market the guidelines through the Green Building Initiative.
The guidelines cover six areas: lot design and preparation; resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environmental air quality; operation, maintenance and homeowner operation; global impact; and site planning and land development.
Ward Hubbell, executive director of Green Building Initiative in Portland, Ore., said the groups will work with local associations in their markets. Local homebuilders' associations want to be able to define what green building means for their respective regions.
``Water usage is a bigger issue in Phoenix than it is in Portland, for instance,'' Hubbell said by telephone Jan. 25. ``We select markets based on volume and receptivity. The markets that we have entered into are all very receptive.''
GBI so far is working with associations in Houston, Boston, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis and Kansas City, Kan. The group has 10 more cities targeted for 2005, including Little Rock, Ark.; Dallas, Detroit and Nashville, Tenn.
Manufacturers see a substantial role for plastics. Officials are out to debunk common myths, such as the belief that green building is expensive or complicated, or that it can't go mainstream.
Here's what it means in a house, basically: Insulation goes everywhere - in window installation, in the foundation and in walls and attics. In wall structures, builders use house wraps designed to keep moisture out and improve indoor air quality. Outside the home, builders search for products with recycled content. For instance, recycled plastic can be used in deck, fence and railing.
At the show, BASF Corp. emphasized products such as a model home designed by architect Sarah Susanka, marketed as the ``Not So Big Showhouse.'' The 2,660-square-foot house showcased products from plastics-focused companies such as BASF and Rehau Inc.
``Builders and consumers are realizing that by reducing a home's footprint through better design, they can put the savings into details that are high-quality, energy-efficient and environmentally sound,'' Susanka said in a news release.
``It's a strong opportunity for us,'' said BASF spokesman David Elliott.
Exhibitors agreed that consumers are becoming conscientious about three things in particular: energy conservation, moisture management and durability.
``Green means many things to many people,'' said Bob Plishka, global communications leader for Dow Chemical Co.'s building and construction unit. ``At the end of the day, green means enhanced performance. To achieve that enhanced performance and really deliver on the promise of future buildings, engineered application-specific materials will be needed, and that's the role for plastics.''
Dow's products were showcased in two homes in Orlando. The firm also announced that several of its Styrofoam extruded polystyrene insulation and polyisocyanurate insulated sheathing products passed certified, third-party evaluations to qualify as weather-resistive barriers for residential construction.