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As energy becomes an ever-increasing concern, The National Association of Home Builders has announced a plan that would improve energy efficiency in America's new homes by at least 50 percent by the year 2000. The plan will unite builders, utilities, scientists, and product suppliers in a coordinated nationwide effort.

Housing consumes about a fifth of the nation's energy, so a significant increase in residential energy efficiency will reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut emission of gases associated with the greenhouse effect. Homes built under the "Energy Efficiency Program" will have reduced operating expenses, thereby making the homes more affordable.

The program will be developed through a series of state pilot programs with the support and assistance of a national partnership. NAHB will work with utilities, the Department of Energy, and others in the housing industry to facilitate the energy efficiency guidelines that are simple, consistent, and readily administered.

Although the guidelines will be national in scope, the program will be administered at the state level to account for variations in climate and building codes.

Participating builders who comply with approved state programs will be able to have their homes certified and registered under the program as "energy-efficient." Builders who become members of the program will receive special training and other educational benefits on energy efficiency.

The plan also includes a bonus to buyers of these homes: they will be able to qualify for preferential mortgages, if offered by their mortgage company.

By the turn of the century the program is expected to have reduced residential energy consumption by at least 50 percent of the energy used for space conditioning under typical 1980 practices.

At the same time, added initial costs for energy efficiency, indoor air quality and durability improvements must be less than the value for the energy savings. Aggressive education, utility incentives, new technologies, and preferential mortgages which promote increased energy efficiency will be the primary tools for achieving the program's goal.

The first new home certifications under the program are scheduled to occur by 1992.

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