At Home | May 02, 2008 |
Home Builders Assoc. Proposes Standard for Green Homes
The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification has dominated the eco-building scene for years. As building codes get more sustainable and green building goes mainstream, the trend is seeping into the residential market. However, LEED standards were created more for the corporate set than the nuclear family with a backyard swing set. In response, USGBC recently released their LEED for Homes standard. But a new challenger has entered the green house arena.
A joint effort by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the International Code Council (ICC) has proposed the "National Green Building Standard", which they hope will become the final word in sustainable suburbs. The group believes that soon they'll gain approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which sets benchmarks for everything from electrical outlets to medical testing equipment.
The standard would provide a voluntary measure for residential green building that can be adopted by building programs and agencies to ensure uniformity in design. It will build on the "Model Green Home Building Guidelines" created by the National Association of Home Builders in 2004.
The group took pains to be inclusive, bringing together a broad committee to design the NGBS, which included builders, architects, product manufacturers, regulators and environmental experts. They also held public meetings and waded through 3,000 public comments.
The Green Building Standard would include different measures for site development, rated with 1-4 stars, and the building itself, rated on a LEED-esque Bronze, Silver, Gold, Emerald scale. Points would be awarded in categories that include "Water Efficiency," "Energy Efficiency," and "Operation, Maintenance, and Building Owner Education" with minimum thresholds for each level along with some mandatory requirements like a waste management plan. It includes similar provisions for remodeling.
When I wrote about green building codes last month, I found that where standards existed for residential construction, everyone seemed to be following a different metric. Now, it seems, we'll have two competing standards for greening neighborhoods.
I think a little competition is good for LEED. It will be interesting to see if USGBC and NAHB engage in a Blue Ray vs HD-DVD-like cage match for green home supremacy or simply fill different niches.
Photo by Danielle Johnson