SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN

August is the month for Haciendas: A Parade of Homes, Santa Fe’s annual, self-guided tour of new and remodeled homes. It’s a great opportunity to check out the quality of what’s on the market.

Green building is more and more important.

“Last year the Parade builders who wanted to be judged in the green category had to fill out a basic checklist that’s part of the guidelines from the National Association of Home Builder,” said Cheri Johansen, marketing director Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. “Now in the city every time you get a permit you have to display a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating on the house, and that’s the basis for our Green Awards category this year.”

Judging is an important part of Parade for the builders, and the new emphasis on green building shows in the fact that, for this category, the association has a judge for each of seven components identified by local green-building experts.

“HERS is an index,” Johansen said. “Basically zero energy is where we all want to go and 100 is the American standard conventional home. We’ve been working with the city on code for all new homes inside the city to achieve HERS 70. Once upon a time Santa Fe was ahead of everybody and now I think we’re going there again.”

The 2008 tour features more houses than usual inside the city limits, which she attributes to a recent boost in infill projects.

Every builder in this slumping market is taking a chance building a spec home. “I think a lot of our builders are saying they have to get their homes out there,” Johansen said. “Marketing is very important right now. We always time the Parade to coincide with Indian Market, and I believe there are many people who make their vacation plans so they can go to Indian Market in the morning and the Parade in the afternoon.”

The tour dates are Aug. 15-17 and Aug. 21-24. Homes are open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21, when selected homes remain open late.

Tickets for the whole tour are $15 and are available at all Parade homes and at the Lensic box office, 988-1234.