Troy Johns, principal of Vancouver, Wash., based Urban NW Homes, is all in when it comes to getting his new homes and development certified to the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS). Not content with just getting his 18-lot Wild Glen development green certified, and being the first West Coast development to do so—he’s now got a letter of approval from the NAHB Research Center that states the development will achieve four-star green certification if completed as planned.

Michael Luzier, president of the Research Center, joined Johns and other local builders, developers, Realtors, politicians, and the media Aug. 18 at Wild Glen to break ground on what Johns hopes is the first of many homes within the community to also achieve NGBS certification. The groundbreaking served as a warm-up for the sustainability fair held by the Clark County BIA’s Green Building Council the following week and kicked off a series of “hard hat” tours and training provided at the Wild Glen site.

This first home in the community is being built by Urban NW as a net zero–energy house that will ultimately have a very limited carbon footprint and will produce at least as much energy as it consumes. Johns is optimistic that the home will achieve Emerald level NGBS certification.

“Our goal with this community and this house in particular,” says Johns, “is education. We hope to have at least 200 people—including local contractors and consumers—come out to the site during our ‘hard hat’ tours to see what’s going on behind the walls and learn what can be accomplished with the right product selection, conscientious design, and consideration of the whole house as an interconnected system.”

In addition to Urban NW Homes’ site tours, the Clark County BIA Green Building Council will be hosting free training seminars for small builders and contractors in the area. It will even help offset the cost of NGBS verification and certification for many of the seminar participants—possibly accounting for up to 100 local homes.

Johns is also trying to remove other cost barriers that can come with the higher-efficiency products often associated with green building. “We have enough lots and momentum in this region that we can help create some economies of scale for other builders with the products we select,” he says. One example he notes is with windows—since Urban NW Homes uses U28 windows and it buys so many, smaller builders in the area can benefit from the reduced prices generated by higher-quantity purchasing. It makes the higher-efficiency windows as economical as U35 windows, which are more typical in the area.

Similar to the NAHB Research Center, the Clark County building community is trying to remove barriers to creating better, more efficient, and more marketable homes.