Green is the theme at the IBS show

Orlando, Fla. The International Builders’ Show is shaping up to be heavy on the “green,” with numerous references to the hot eco-friendly market segment.

The National Association of Home Builders heavily promoted its new National Green Building Program, launched officially on Feb. 14 in what the group designated as “Green Day” at IBS.

The program is meant to link several state and local green building programs with a universal online certification tool, national registry of green homes and green builders, and a collection of educational tools for home builders and home buyers, according to the NAHB. The show also included the NAHB “New American Home,” which this year featured an Energy Star-rated and certified green home, following standards designated by the Florida Green Building Coalition, as well as the aforementioned National Green Building Program standards. The home is the first to receive the NAHB’s new designation, according to the group.

Several builders discussed their experiences with green building. Clark Wilson started Green Builders Inc. last year, a group which is now building communities of Energy Star-rated homes in the Austin, Texas, area.

“The more we looked into it, the more we decided this is not just a trend,” Wilson explained. “This is the real deal. It just hit critical mass.”

The builder currently has four all-green housing projects under development in the Austin area, with homes priced from $200,000 to $700,000.

Energy Star promoted its program for new homes, which requires new homes to be at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code standards.

Manufacturers like Kohler and American Standard highlighted their new products as certified under the EPA’s newest “WaterSense” guidelines. WaterSense was launched in 2006 by the agency and has begun to gain the reputation of an Energy Star program for water conservation -- particularly with some areas of the country experiencing droughts, and consequently, new water conservation regulations. Most recently, in October 2007, the EPA launched its first WaterSense specifications for bathroom sink faucets.

At the Home Depot booth, several new products were featured under the retailer’s Eco Options program, including the American Standard WaterSense-rated toilets and new line of no-VOC paints from ICI Paints called FreshAire Choice. Eco Options uses third party verifications, as well as EPA programs, to categorize environmentally friendly products into five categories: sustainable forestry (including building materials and wood products), energy efficient, healthy home (including natural garden products), clean air and water conservation.

The International Builders’ Show concludes Feb. 16 in Orlando.