More builders are adding "green" features to their new homes. It is a strategy born out of necessity, the Wall Street Journal rerpots.


In October, the Trilogy division of Shea Homes rolled out a program dubbed Shea Superiology for its 1,500 to 2,000 new homes this year. The homes will have environmentally friendly features such as increased insulation and energy-efficient electronic appliances. KB Home this year also began including appliances awarded the federal Energy Star rating for high energy efficiency as standard in homes, even though they cost more than those without the designation. And Pulte Homes Inc. is adding more insulation and energy-saving appliances at some of its subdivisions in the southwestern U.S.


Interest in green homes was high at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., where the National Association of Home Builders declared Feb. 14 "Green Day" and announced a national green building program that enables builders to achieve certifications they can advertise to the public. The numerous environmental sessions included: "Ride the Green Wave or Be Swept Away."

The push for environmentally friendly construction comes as the housing industry remains mired in a deep and protracted slump, with single-family housing starts off more than a third from 2005 and widely expected to keep sliding this year. To stand out from the crowd, big home builders are going green for the first time or are expanding their existing programs -- a departure from previous practice, when environmentally friendly building was mainly limited to a niche of smaller builders. But results so far are mixed: some developments report increased traffic but no pickup in sales. Other builders say sales are on the upswing but it is too early to tell whether it is at a faster pace than their comparable, nongreen developments. And the higher cost of green construction is proving a hurdle for some companies.


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