Work Begins on National Green Building Standard
More than 70 builders, designers, local government officials and manufacturers representatives gathered at the National Housing Center April 19-20 to begin work on a new national green building standard.
Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, the new standard will be written for accreditation by the American National Standards Institute, the recognized leader in the standardization process. NAHB is working in collaboration with the International Code Council to develop the standard.
Encompassing single-family construction, remodeling and multifamily construction, the national green building standard is expected to be completed in early 2008.
ANSI requires consensus-based decision-making, opportunity for public comment and other processes to help guarantee a standard more likely to be accepted by all members of the home building industry — as well as those who regulate them.
The standard is on an aggressive timeline for development, noted a number of committee members. It needs to be, said representatives of NAHB’s Research Center, which is coordinating the standard process, because market demand for green-built homes is accelerating rapidly.
To prepare for last week’s meeting, the Research Center posted a draft of the guidelines on its Web site, which builders are encouraged to check for updates on the standard’s progress. A number of industry members already have: the Research Center had catalogued 259 individual comments on the proposed standard’s various components by mid-April.
It’s too soon to see how many comments will be incorporated into the new standard, but builders can expect some specific changes, said Vladimir Kochin, director of applied engineering for the NAHB Research Center.
- Homes will need to demonstrate that their heating and cooling units are correctly sized, according to the Air Conditioning Contractor's of America's Manual J or another reference guide, to achieve minimum energy efficiences.
- Homes will need to meet minimum requirements set by the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code.
- Builder certification of a project will no longer be sufficient in the new standard. Third-party review to verify design and compliance with an established energy efficiency program, such as Energy Star, will be required.
- A minimum number of points will be required for compliance, Kochin said. “The way the standard is set up, you aren’t required to implement any particular practice [except those required by the the IEEC or other referenced groups], but you are required to accumulate a minimum number of points for the level of your choice. How you get there is up to you,” he said.
That flexibility is in keeping with the spirit of the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, which local home builders associations have customized to reflect local geography and market preferences, said standard development committee chair Ron Jones, a nationally recognized green builder and sustainability advocate.
“Inherent in a national standard is the embodied notion that we have to have flexibility. It’s one of the cornerstones” of the guidelines, he said.
It’s also a great leap of faith for NAHB, he pointed out. “We aren’t in a position to craft NAHB’s goal” if that goal is a standard that reflects only the preferences of builders, Jones said. “NAHB took an existing document and actually relinquished that” when the association turned the guidelines over to the ANSI process.
Bill Killmer, NAHB’s group vice president for advocacy, welcomed ANSI standard committee members and observers to the National Housing Center, noting that the meeting location is just one indication of how important the creation of a green building standard is to NAHB and its 235,000 members.
NAHB’s board of directors voted in February to establish policy on climate change and its possible ramifications for home builders and home buyers. The board also recommended that NAHB establish a national green building program as the industry’s solution.
“Turning the guidelines into a standard is part and parcel of this effort,” Killmer said. “We take great pride in welcoming you here,” he told committee members.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.
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