This spring has been full of firsts for the NAHB Research Center’s National Green Building Certification program.

In March, a Tucson, Ariz., home featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was the first home in the country certified by the Research Center to the ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard.

Understanding that the home’s owners, the Bells, especially their 14-year-old daughter Lizzie whose immune system is significantly compromised by a rare blood disease, needed a peaceful, safe, and healthy environment to call home, the design and construction team knew they wanted this house to be green. To that end, the television show’s producers and builder John Wesley Miller were determined to have it certified to the standard. Although going through the scrutiny of two verification inspections to ensure that every point claimed was visually inspected by the verifier added another layer to the already challenging non-stop construction schedule, participants said they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Right on the heels of this exciting first, the Village in Burns Harbor, a neo-traditional community in northwest Indiana, became the first in the country to earn land development certification to the National Green Building Standard.

The 60-acre parcel was carved from unused farm fields and old commercial sites in the town of Burns Harbor, a once-dying steel town an hour outside Chicago. Developer T. Clifford Fleming protected environmentally sensitive areas, preserving existing vegetation and the natural water and drainage features on the site while adding more plants native to the region. The high-density residential areas of the community are connected by sidewalk to the town center, and two South Side railroad line stations are within five miles of the development, providing easy access for commuting.

Since February 2008, the Research Center has been administering National Green Building certification using the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines as its scoring platform. The option to have a project scored to the National Green Building Standard became available when the standard was approved by ANSI in January 2009.