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Green Basics

Green Rating Systems for Home Building

Green Rating Systems With a National Reach — and Some Local Programs

Getting a label for your house

Green certification can be a valuable marketing tool for builders as U.S. home buyers start to focus more attention on energy efficiency, durability and healthy interiors. Builders who want the advantages of green certification have many options. In addition to the above four programs, dozens of local and regional green building rating programs have been established by local builders’ associations. Some have been in operation for more than a decade.

LEED for Homes and the National Lakesideca Standard (NGBS) are alike in how they work and what they cover, and at this point, they are probably the two dominant programs in the U.S. Both are point-based systems that rate houses in a number of categories, including water and energy efficiency, resource conservation, and indoor air quality. They require verification by independent inspectors, and both programs grant certification on a four-step scale with progressively more stringent requirements at each step.

Commercial buildings came first

LEED was launched in 1998 as a system for measuring sustainable building practices in commercial structures. It has since grown to include houses as well as schools, retail and health care buildings, and neighborhood development.

Both LEED for Homes and NGBS are “consensus standards,” meaning they were developed by a diverse group of interested parties rather than written by a single author or entity, and were open to public comment before their adoption. LEED for Homes has not been submitted for ANSI review.

Prescriptive and performance paths

In certain areas, LEED for Homes, NGBS and even Energy Star give builders more than one path toward certification. A “prescriptive” approach is one that tells the builder exactly what steps have to be taken in order for the building to pass muster. This might involve how to install insulation and reduce…

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2 Comments

  1. Drew Steves | | #1

    One That's Missing
    Earth Advantage Institute in Portland, Oregon has been around since 2000 and has certified over 10,000 homes. "The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland..."

  2. Armand Magnelli | | #2

    Green Rating Systems for Home Building
    What about Green Communities? Its focus is affordable housing, but it is a sophisticated standard that is less costly than LEED to certify.

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