The National Green Building Program, a multifaceted information, education, and home certification tool launched in February as part of the NAHB’s big splash into the green arena at IBS 2008, is attracting builders and other industry professionals at an impressive pace.
Through the first eight months of the program, more than 1,250 NAHB members and others earned the association’s new Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation (www.nahb.org/cgpinfo). Concurrently, more than 2,500 projects were registered on the program’s Web site (www.nahbgreen.org), indicating that they are in some stage of being scored against the association’s green building rating system.
In addition, an average of 100 people a month take and pass the test to be accredited verifiers to inspect and certify homes against the rating system. The association also counts about 200 state and local chapters—up from 40 in 2007—that are offering some level of green building services to their members. “The interest and participation in the program and services has far exceeded our goals to date,” says Emily English, the program’s manager at the NAHB.
English and her staff, however, are not resting on their laurels. She anticipates another spike in interest once the National Green Building Standard (NGBS, derived from the NAHB’s Model Green Building Guidelines) is approved by ANSI—a designation that will trigger a companion scoring and rating system to certify homes under that standard and enable multifamily, remodeling, and development projects to qualify. “It will be a completely different set of tools from the guidelines,” she says, though similar in design and application. “The [NGBS] has higher thresholds in several categories and more options [compared to the guidelines].”
The program is also being refined to respond to emerging trends, namely builders and developers seeking to certify entire projects (versus individual homes) and address liability issues associated with promises—overt or otherwise—that tend to accompany high-performance homes. “Builders are asking for advice about how to articulate a home’s performance without making promises that depend on the lifestyle of the occupants,” says English.
The NAHB is also using the program’s popularity, specifically the number of third-party certified homes (an estimated 115,000 nationwide) and the growth of HBA-sponsored and other voluntary green building programs, as political leverage against state and local green building mandates. “Mandates don’t guarantee results,” says English. “A voluntary program fosters more organic changes.”