When the National Association of Home Builders’ Leadership Council met in Kansas City, Mo., for its annual fall meeting in late October, it again heard concerns about climate-related risks to the nation’s housing and their potential to affect housing finance, insurance costs, government regulations, and other aspects of the residential construction industry. As a result, the council voted to recommend that NAHB’s board of directors create a new Climate Risk Committee.
As far back as 2008, NAHB has supported policy that encourages energy efficiency, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and improves sustainability of the nation’s housing by focusing on market-driven strategies that encourage resource efficiency while preserving housing affordability.
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The current Climate Change Task Force, under first vice chairman Alicia Huey’s direction, has led the association’s efforts over the past eight years to identify and address climate-related factors affecting home building, such as increased fire and flood risk, the need to modify housing design, and higher insurance premiums that increase the cost of homeownership. A recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America finds increased flooding and other risks to property may increase mortgage default rates, escalate home price volatility, and even produce disruptive climate-related migration.
In voting to recommend the creation of a Climate Risk Committee, the Leadership Council cited the increasing number of climate discussions already taking place at various NAHB committee meetings and the need to better integrate efforts. If the board votes to establish a new committee when it meets in December, the committee would begin its work in 2023.
The Role of NAHB's Proposed Climate Risk Committee
NAHB’s 25 existing committees meet throughout the year to discuss issues of common interest, exchange ideas, and make policy recommendations to the Leadership Council. The creation of a new committee is noteworthy. The association only adds a committee when a significant ongoing need arises. If created, the new committee will consider the potential impacts to the industry from warming temperatures, rising sea levels, intensifying storms, and more frequent droughts and wildfires and identify workable, cost-effective solutions.
NAHB will continue to fight back against regulations that could affect where and how we build, as well as those that may harm housing affordability but provide no commensurate benefit. These efforts include NAHB’s stance against the Biden administration’s reinstatement of the 2015 Obama-era Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which dramatically expands—without congressional oversight—regulated floodplain areas.
The committee also will oversee research and the development of tools and resources for its members to effectively build resilient homes and communities and distinguish themselves in their markets. Many builders already use sustainable construction and development methods, materials, and designs to minimize their homes’ impact on the environment, improve resiliency, and conserve natural resources. Our association has always supported such building practices, encouraging members to incorporate environmental stewardship into building and design plans.
Climate issues aren’t going away, and NAHB will continue to be the housing industry’s voice on this issue. A new Climate Risk Committee would be an important step forward.
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Resources for Sustainability and Disaster Recovery
Voluntary, above-code third-party green certification programs such as the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) provide builders and consumers with an added incentive to build homes that are sustainable, high-performing, affordable, and cost-effective because certified homes are independently verified as being designed and built to achieve certain high-performance goals.
A Sustainability Toolkit available at nahb.org is designed to equip and support builders and remodelers who want to learn more about sustainable building practices. A variety of educational materials and information about national green building programs, reports, educational videos, and online courses are accessible for NAHB members and local home builder associations.
And when disaster does strike, NAHB’s Disaster Resources Toolkit helps our local home builder associations navigate the crisis and communicate with their members and their community. A toolbox talk page has tips for jobsite preparedness and disaster recovery, and a dedicated NAHB disaster relief and preparedness staff specialist is also available to help.
NAHB’s Eye on Housing provides timely economic information for the housing industry: NAHB economists offer detailed analysis of data and take the pulse of the single-family housing market. Find out more at eyeonhousing.org
The International Builders’ Show is less than two months away and will again be part of Design & Construction Week, the world’s largest annual residential and light-construction trade show. For info and to register: buildersshow.com