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Green features lacking from country's largest builders


The 2011 NHBA International Builder’s Show is just a week away, and we’re expecting to see a lot of green — green products, green builders, green experts.

Green may be on the mind at IBS, but a recent study by Calvert Investments shows many of today’s homes are still light on green features.

This conclusion comes from a survey of the 10 largest publicly traded construction companies that sets out to understand their sustainability policies and practices. The survey measures five green indicators: land, building materials, energy, water, and climate change. Among the most noteworthy findings:

  • “A sizable gap still remains between what investors need and the information that builders provide. Out of 42 points, the average total score was just over 6, or 15 percent.”
  • “Companies are most active in energy efficiency and conservation compared with other environmental issues. Every homebuilder reviewed for this analysis had some level of policy or program focused on curbing residential energy use.”
  • “Homebuilders are not measuring and disclosing their impact on the environment in a comprehensive manner. The analysis looked for environmental performance date points that homebuilders use to manage their footprint, but nearly all homebuilders had no relevant data.”
  • “While all 10 homebuilders have made some effort to develop environmental policies or practices, or to offer environmental products, there is a strong differentiation in the level of commitment to sustainability and the penetration of green homes in each company’s product mix.”

Think the depressed building market is to blame? The Calvert study claims, “Overall, the economic crisis has not thwarted many homebuilders’ efforts to become more sustainable companies.”

So, what’s the hold up? Why are homebuilders — whether publicly traded behemoths or independently owned operations — slow to build green?