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A Reality Check, Anyone?

Posted by Ron Jones

Sep 15, 2016 1:03:47 PM

The only thing as bewildering as the endless parade of behemoth footprint projects offered under the TNAH program is this stale and disingenuous justification coughed up in each and every cycle to explain them.

One year ago, in the September 2015 edition of Green Builder, I employed this column to draw attention to the issue of house size. In the process, I called out the then newly announced “official” NAHB show home, The New American Home (TNAH), which was set to open during the January 2017 Design & Construction Week trade show in Orlando, Fla.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Meanwhile, this past week I read the exciting announcement that the 2017 version of the NAHB official show home is being built for the organization’s annual trade show, which will return to Orlando after a few years in Las Vegas, and will be ready to debut as the venerable ‘New American Home.’ The hype is already beginning for this ‘8,000-square-foot, net-zero, $4 million home,’ that will undoubtedly be promoted as the absolute paragon of American homebuilding and the ultimate dream of homebuyers throughout the country, if not the world.

It will, no doubt, feature stunning architecture, products, systems and finishes, plus all the bells and whistles that will make it possible for the participants to keep a semi-straight face as they tell everyone who’ll listen, with a wink and a nod, how sustainability is a core ingredient of the project. For decades now, in cities around the country, the trade group and its media partners have perpetrated this hoax, as these behemoths are presented year after year with much fanfare and noise to the news media, the building industry and the population at large.”

Recently, in an early attempt to generate interest in the opening, TNAH 2017 was promoted by NAHB itself in a blog that contained a great deal of hype, but glaringly omitted any mention of its size.

When I inquired about this, the following response was posted by the organization:

“As is typical for these types of show homes, a large floorplan is needed to accommodate the wide variety of new products. TNAH 2017 is no exception. The home will have approximately 12,500 square feet. Yet its projected HERS rating is -3.” Readers were further assured that many more blog posts would be posted in the coming months with additional details.

I posted the following reply:

“Seriously?  The only thing as bewildering as the endless parade of behemoth footprint projects offered under the TNAH program is this stale and disingenuous justification coughed up in each and every cycle to explain them.

Every year, all across this country, dozens of demonstration projects with responsible dimensions succeed in showcasing the most innovative and marketable products, systems and technologies in homebuilding that provide a realistic look at what a sustainable home should include. 

Am I the only NAHB member who is embarrassed by this annual hoax, or just the only one to have the guts to admit it? Let’s be honest for once: TNAH is an important non-dues revenue generator for NAHB that gets every drop of financial resource and association loyalty from the participating building products manufacturers and other sponsors. Everybody knows it, so why pretend it is something else? 

The current scenario is one that is not only an insult to our individual and collective intelligence, but also to the integrity of our profession. So yes, please keep those blogs and promos coming. I suspect that I’m not the only member who is eager to learn more.”

Not surprisingly, my reply was not acknowledged, and I am still awaiting a response. 

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