Hearings Move Green Standard Closer to Expected 2008 Approval
Three days of hearings in late October have brought home builders one step closer to the nation’s first and only consensus-based residential green building standard.
The proposed National Green Building Standard, based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, is being prepared by a committee of industry stakeholders led by NAHB and the International Code Council and is expected to be approved by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, in early 2008.
Members received a staggering 1,100 public comments covering a wide range of topics contained in the standard, which addresses single- and multifamily building, lot and site development and residential remodeling.
After three days of hearings, the consensus committee reviewed and voted on about three-fourths of the public comments. Discussions were both lively and thoughtful, said chair Ron Jones, a green building subcommittee member and advocate based in the Northwest.
“As it becomes increasingly clear to all participants that the contents of the standard comprise a set of interrelated and complex items that affect one another from chapter to chapter, the committee is faced with the overriding task of developing a standard that is predicated on balance and the need to deliver a final product that will result in a meaningful and achievable platform for residential green building in America,” Jones said.
Reacting to concerns that first-time home buyers may be priced out of the market, the committee members worked to ensure that the threshold for the bronze level of certification would be appropriate for more affordably priced green homes.
“It is recognized that the entry level of the standard must account for cost considerations while remaining as robust as possible to result in authentic long-term benefits to the home owner and the natural environment,” Jones said.
He emphasized that the addition of an “emerald” level above bronze, silver and gold will keep the bar high for those who can afford the full array of green features.
However, the consensus committee also recognizes that larger homes obviously use more resources — so for every 100 square feet that a home exceeds 4,000 square feet in size, it must score one additional point for certification.
“The committee struggled most with reaching consensus on a scoring system that will deliver the greatest reward for the practices and strategies that provide the greatest benefit, something that is not always easy to calculate,” Jones said. “For example, tighter building envelopes are encouraged as a strategy to provide higher energy performance, but create additional issues in ventilation and indoor air quality. The committee has made every effort to reconcile every possible cause and effect.”
With further discussions needed in the chapters dealing with points, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, home owner education and household maintenance, and remodeling practices, the committee on Dec. 3-4 will hold a third public hearing in Washington, D.C. before releasing a second draft standard for final public comment.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.
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