As energy prices increase and the nation searches for cheaper renewable resources, the housing industry has been improving the way it builds and remodels homes. Today’s homes and building materials are more environmentally responsible than ever–conserving resources, using recycled materials and building for longevity.

The National Association of Home Builders reports the following “green” innovations. Be sure to look for them if you’re shopping for a new home or consider installing them if you’re remodeling or repairing a home you already own.

  • More-durable roof coverings

such as steel and fiber-cement

  • More and better insulation

in walls and attics, conserving energy, lowering utility bills and reducing pollution related to energy production

  • OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and laminated fiberboard

made from smaller younger trees, replacing plywood on roofs and board sheathing in walls, both made from larger, older trees

  • Greater use of carpet, sheet vinyl and laminates

rather than wood flooring that taxes lumber supplies

  • Foundation insulation

to reduce energy loss while providing more-comfortable floors

  • Insulated exterior doors and windows with insulating and low-E glass

to keep homes more comfortable and energy efficient

  • Vinyl siding and fiber cement siding

, reducing the use of cedar, redwood and other wood products

  • High-efficiency heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment

to cut energy consumption

  • Water-saving appliances and plumbing fixtures

to reduce water use. They also require less energy to heat water

  • Factory-built components

, such as trusses and pre-hung doors, resulting in more-economical use of materials than cutting wood on the job site

  • Recycled plastic “lumber”

instead of weather-resistant woods (e.g., redwood) for decks, porches, trim and fencing

  • High-efficiency refrigerators

that use less energy and operate using refrigerants that have less potential impact on the ozone layer

  • Passive solar designs

using the sun’s “free” energy to help heat homes

  • Xeriscaping

, which employs native plants that can thrive with little or no extra watering

  • Tree preservation

around homes to provide shade, reducing summer energy costs.