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RISMEDIA, Nov. 19, 2007-(MCT)-That new home smell that lingers from freshly painted walls, new tiles and carpets won’t have the same allure for homeowners in several decades as it does today.

They’ll be used to green homes that use eco-friendly paints and materials that don’t emit those fumes, said Michael Strong, vice president of GreenHaus Builders.

“I guarantee the next generation of homeowners are going to tell their spouse, ‘Quick, get the kids out of the house. There are chemicals in here,'” he told a group at the Crown Reef Resort on Wednesday.

About 55 builders, architects, remodelers and homeowners attended Strong’s course “Green Building for Building Professionals” to get on the green-building wave that is sweeping the country.

Several commercial and residential buildings on the Grand Strand are already using green tactics — such as the Beach First Center and the Withers Preserve development — and it’s clear that many more builders are interested in learning more about it, said Rose Anne O’Reilly, executive vice president of Horry-Georgetown Home Builders Association.

“I get the impression from talking to people that there’s a lot on the drawing board that’s going to be green,” O’Reilly said.

Green building refers to construction techniques that produce less waste, use environmentally friendly materials and appliances and make the final product more energy-efficient.

Demand for green housing has grown — 46 percent of buyers would like a green home, according to an August report by the National Association of Realtors on home buyers’ preferences. Yet only 2% of existing American homes contain green features such as energy-efficient windows, according to an October report by the McGraw-Hill Construction Information Group.

Some who attended the course Wednesday said the shift to green will be gradual. They can start by using paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds or tankless water heaters, they said.

“It’s going to be measured in steps,” said Peter Jackson, owner of Murrells Inlet-based Pinnacle Construction Partners. “This industry is so large that historically it’s taken decades to change. It’s going to be a slow, incremental thing.”

Still, local builders are hoping to stay ahead of the curve, especially with steep competition in an over-supplied real estate market. Jackson said he sees more demand for green homes in the community, especially from transplants who sometimes come from areas with more green options.

“Hopefully we’ll have a competitive advantage,” he said.

The Horry-Georgetown Home Builders Association hopes to make it easier for builders to go green. It plans to start a green-building council in the spring that will hold informational sessions.

A registry that lists green products also is in the works.

Letting people know about the possibilities is the first step, O’Reilly said.

“You can be as green as you want to be, that’s what I’m learning. You don’t have to spend 40 percent more to build a green home,” she said. “I think the desire is out there and it’s going to take hold quickly when they find out what is available.”

Copyright © 2007, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.