Green Industry Articles

Green Building Ratings: NAHB National Green Building Program

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has been making headway on efforts to green the entire housing industry, in part, by devising a rating system specifically for houses. Such was the topic of a September Green REsource Council Webinar featuring Kevin Morrow, Senior Program Manager of the National Green Building Program.

He outlined NAHB's National Green Building Program, pointing out that it entails more than certifying homes and actually is an umbrella of services and products.

For instance, an education program and designation, the Certified Green Professional, gives builders the fundamentals of green building. Interest in the certification has exploded since its February 2008 launch. NAHB anticipated certifying about 500 green professionals after the first year. "We hit that number four months into program," comments Morrow. And a year and a half later, there are more than 4,000 certified green professionals.

In addition, it launched the National Green Building Standard, a rating system to measure “greenness” of residential buildings. The standard also received approval by the American National Standards Institute.

It addresses all residential types, including single-family and multi-family projects, remodeling projects and site development. Builders rack up a certain number of points in various categories to attain one of four certification levels--bronze, silver, gold or emerald.

The standard addresses six areas:

• Lot design
• Resource efficiency
• Energy efficiency
• Water efficiency
• Indoor environmental quality
• Homeowner education, operation and maintenance

Depending on what level builders wish to attain, they must fulfill items from each category and also achieve optional points in categories of their choosing. Optional points let builders adapt properties to regional differences. For instance, a Midwestern house may require aggressive insulation, whereas saving water may be more critical to a California property.

Before receiving certification, houses are certified by a verifier. REALTORS® can benefit by using the certification to market a home as green.

REALTORS® also are vital for homeowner education, believes Morrow, who points out that maintenance and operation are critical in how efficient houses will be over the long haul. Providing such education is an opportunity for GRC members to flex their muscle and apply their knowledge.

As such, Morrow doesn't see the benefits of NAHB's green efforts as something solely benefiting builders, but views it as an opportunity to get all players in the residential industry working together to advance the sustainability movement.

He says NAHB wants to reach beyond just builders to green the entire housing industry. "There are lenders, REALTORS®, appraisers and a whole line of industries attached to housing in addition to builders. There needs to be a better understanding of green building and environmental responsibility all along that chain," he says.

Source: Green Resource Council Newsletter, September 2009