Anticipating major housing trends and ensuring that members have the tools they need to adapt and thrive as the market evolves is one of the most important services the NAHB provides to members.
I’m very proud to say that where green building is concerned, the NAHB’s efforts are right on target. During the darkest days of the Great Recession, the NAHB accurately projected that when home building came back, it would come back green.
In anticipation of this increased focus on resource conservation, the NAHB partnered with the International Code Council (ICC) in 2007 to write the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS).
We knew that as green began to trend, every market would interpret it differently. Regional distinctions, varying demands on price point, and the very dynamics of green innovation made it a given that a “one size fits all” green rating system would be impractical and unnecessarily costly. Instead, the NGBS is flexible to accommodate different environments and buyer preferences and scalable with four levels of achievement. It is cost effective, it is voluntary and—most important—it is shaping the residential construction industry.
The original NGBS was a game changer for residential construction because it was the first green rating system to undergo the consensus process established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and receive ANSI approval. Its hallmark flexibility helped the NGBS define green building for single-family homes, multifamily buildings, and residential site development projects.
As a result, the standard achieved considerable market penetration despite the severe housing downturn, and it continues to grow rapidly.
My own state of North Carolina is a great example: Since the NGBS was approved in 2008, our builders have certified 1,250 new homes and 1,777 multifamily units in 61 certified buildings. More than 7,500 single-family homes, remodeling projects, and apartments and condos are in the process.
The Home Innovation Research Labs (formerly the NAHB Research Center) administers the certification program utilizing a nationwide network of highly qualified third-party verifiers to ensure compliance.
Three years after the NGBS was launched, we revisited the standard. We worked with the ICC to gather a consensus committee of green building practitioners, manufacturers, code officials, and government groups to update the NGBS, and we incorporated a broad range of changes including more stringent energy requirements.
Approved earlier this year, the 2012 edition of the standard features other notable changes in addition to the updated energy efficiency requirements that keep it above code, such as more synergy with the land development scoring system and improvements to the remodeling scoring system that now includes stand-alone scoring for remodels and provisions for certifying green kitchen and bath renovations and small additions.
There are more point incentives for brownfield redevelopment, more accommodation for low-slope site conditions, and a tiered point allocation for preserving natural resources.
The common thread through all these improvements is flexibility: The NGBS allows home builders, remodelers, and developers to design and build market-appropriate green projects. It also continues to require a basic level of achievement across its six key areas: energy efficiency, water efficiency, site design, operation and maintenance, resource efficiency, and indoor environmental quality.
The home building industry is making great strides in green building, and I’m proud that the NAHB is leading the way.
For more information about the NGBS, visit www.homeinnovation.com.