National Standards Set for Green Home Certification

April 03, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — The nation’s first consensus for residential green building standards has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  The ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) provides a flexible third-party rating system for green home certification, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association (SAHBA) Green Build Council announced.

“Builders and new home buyers confused by the green building buzz now have clear, flexible, bona fide criteria to go by.  The standards have now been plainly defined,” said John Wesley Miller, Chairman of the SAHBA Green Build Council.  “There are options for different levels of documentation that provide builders the flexibility to choose the certification level most appropriate for their customers.”

The nation’s first ANSI Green-certified home was built by Miller in Tucson.  SAHBA Green Build Council member Hank Krzysik of HJ Krzysik Architect, was the accredited verifier for the home.  It has received national recognition on network television.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center is the third-party official for National Green Building Certification.  NGBS has practical value because of its flexibility.  It allows home builders and home buyers to make green choices based on climate and geography as well as style and budget.

Using the interactive Green Scoring Tool on the NAHB Green website, builders, designers, remodelers, and home buyers can compile information about the practices and products that make a home green. Points are awarded by either the Guidelines, such as Resource, Energy and Water Efficiency; Indoor Environmental Quality, and Global Impact;  or the Standards such as Lot Design, Preparation, and Development.

“The approval signals a new era for the nation’s builders and remodelers by providing an extra measure of assurance for home buyers,” said Miller, a SAHBA and NAHB Life Director.  “The National Green Building Standard is the first and only green building rating system approved by ANSI, making it the benchmark for all green homes.”

SAHBA Vice President Roger Yohem added that consumers looking for “authentic, verifiably green building practices” now have a baseline consensus from the building industry.  The standard defines what can be incorporated into residential development and construction and how home owners can operate and maintain green homes.

What makes a home green?
Green homes minimize environmental impact in every step of the building and development process.  The design, construction, and operation of a home must focus on energy and water efficiency, resource-efficient building design and materials, indoor environmental quality, and the home’s overall impact on the environment.

However, many of the processes and technologies in a green home happen behind the scenes and walls. That’s why home buyers should look for an NAHB Research Center Certificate stating that the home was built according to either the ICC 700-2008 NGBS or the NAHB Green Home Building Guidelines.

Other key components of a green home include:

Energy-Efficient Features
Appliances, windows, and water heating systems with ENERGY STAR ratings. The home should also include efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs. Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic electricity, further decrease the overall energy consumption within the home.

Water-Efficient Features
Fixtures and appliances such as low-flow showerheads, faucets, toilets, and ENERGY STAR dishwashers and washing machines. Programmed, low-volume irrigation systems and rainwater collection systems also save water.

Resource-Efficient Features
Decisions regarding home size, orientation on the lot and floor plan layout are made in the design of your home and development of the lot.  The house orientation and design should  use strategies to reduce heat gain in the summer.  Home should contain renewable materials and recycled-content materials in carpets, tiles, and concrete formulations.

Indoor Air Quality Features
The heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC) must be appropriately sized for an efficient and properly ventilated home. Fans in the kitchen and bathrooms should cycle fresh air inside, and release stale air. Low-VOC paints and finishes and wall papers should be used as well.

Outside the Home
Care should be taken to preserve native trees and other vegetation.  Landscaping should contain plants that are appropriate for the desert and grouped according to water needs. Driveways and other impervious surfaces should be reduced as much as possible, and may be composed of gravel or permeable block pavers.
Details about National Green Building Program, Green Scoring, verification, and green project certification:  www.nahbgreen.org.   SAHBA represents 700 member businesses and 25,000 jobs serving the residential construction industry in Pima and Cochise counties.

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