A truly high-performance, green home is not always easy for builders to design and construct, and there are always additional costs involved compared with building a code-minimum home. There are innumerable regulations and codes, specs for hundreds of products, and the need for dozens of subcontractors in the construction of a “typical” home. Doing something new, especially if it is fundamentally different and unfamiliar, comes with risk.

So where does a builder who wants to build a better, greener home start? Using the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) and Home Innovation’s NGBS Green Certification can make the process easier and more affordable. The NGBS—designed specifically for residential construction—was conceived to make green building more accessible to all builders. As an ICC I-Code, the NGBS is written in code language so that the green building practices can be easily understood by everyone involved in the construction process: designers; architects; builders; carpenters; HVAC contractors; insulation installers; plumbers; and electricians. This helps to eliminate, or at least reduce, communication and implementation issues.

The NGBS establishes a minimum performance baseline by mandating those building practices considered critical to a home’s functioning. NGBS-compliant homes and multifamily buildings, for example, must include a water-resistive barrier to manage moisture. Bathrooms must be vented to the outdoors. Ducts in unconditioned spaces must be insulated to meet at least a minimum level. And, building owners must be provided with a list of the green building attributes included in the building. Once the mandatory practices have been met, the NGBS offers numerous additional point-based options so builders can select the green building practices, products, and technologies that make the most sense for their climate, geography, construction type, and cost considerations.

While liberating to more experienced green builders, the numerous options of green building practices within the NGBS (totaling more than 1,100 points) can seem daunting to the uninitiated. How does someone approaching the NGBS for the first time decide what practices are the most cost-effective? Or the most relevant to prospective home buyers and renters? In an effort to help new green builders overcome this challenge, Home Innovation created the NGBS Bronze Cookbook.

The concept behind this green building roadmap is simple—it allows builders to see which practices are most commonly incorporated into NGBS Green Certified homes. Home Innovation developed the Bronze Cookbook by reviewing every NGBS Green Verification Report for homes and multifamily buildings that have attained NGBS Green Certification. Based on that review, we pre-populated an Excel-based scoring spreadsheet with the most commonly used practices to achieve Bronze-level NGBS Green Certification. Given the widespread use of these specific practices nationally, a new-to-green builder can assume they represent the most cost-effective and relevant green practices for residential construction.

By identifying cost-effective green practices, the Bronze Cookbook can save builders time and money by streamlining what can otherwise be a complex and extensive decision-making process. But the cookbook is just one way to help figure out how to attain NGBS Green Certification—the NGBS offers innumerable combinations of green building practices for a home to attain Bronze or any other level certification. Home Innovation always encourages builders to strategically select the most appropriate green practices for their projects based on their individual objectives and market drivers.

For more information and assistance in starting on your path to building NGBS Green Certified homes, visit www.homeinnovation.com/NGBSBronzeCookbook.