While some of the impetus to build green is being dictated by policymakers, increased awareness among home buyers is also driving the growth in this sector. Accordingly, the HBA helps prepare the industry by educating and credentialing building professionals, developing measurements for green building, and advocating at the national level for credible, voluntary, and market-sensitive green building initiatives.
What is Green Building?
Green building, also known as high performance building or sustainable construction has been practiced by builders and remodelers for centuries but the modern era of sustainable construction started in the 1970’s as oil prices rose and the need for energy efficiency increased.
High performance buildings are designed and constructed to incorporate environmental considerations and resource efficiency into every step of the home building and land development process with the goal to minimize its environmental impact. Green building is a practical response to a variety of issues that affect all of us — like increasing energy prices, waning water resources, and changing weather patterns.
Choosing green means making intentional decisions about:
- Energy efficiency improvements such as a high-performance building envelope, efficient HVAC systems, high-performance windows and energy-efficient appliances and lighting
- Water conservation measures such as water-efficient appliances and fixtures, filtration systems, and drought resistant or low-maintenance landscaping
- Resource conservation using materials and techniques such as engineered wood and wood alternatives, recycled building materials, sustainably harvested lumber, and more durable products
- Indoor environmental quality considerations such as effective HVAC equipment, formaldehyde-free finishes, low-allergen materials, and products with minimum off-gassing or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Site design planning such as minimizing disruption and preserving open space
- Home owner education through manuals and operating guides
Our Green Building Program through the local, state and national Assocation includes:
Education about Green Building
- The Certified Green Professional (CGP)
- Master Certified Green Professional (MCGP)
- International Builders' Show
- Webinars and other industry-sponsored events.
The foremost green rating system for residential construction in the United States, the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard can be used for rating new and remodeled single- and multifamily buildings as well as residential subdivisions. It is the first and only such residential green rating system to have earned the approval of the American National Standards Institute. Homes are certified to the rigorous requirements of the NGBS, which provides practices for the design and construction of all types of green residential buildings, renovations, and land developments. The certification is provided by Home Innovation Research Labs, a third party, independent firm.
Homes built in compliance with the NGBS focus on three primary attributes that are highly marketable to today’s discerning consumers:
Lower Operating Costs
Green Building Advocacy
NAHB actively promotes viable, credible, market-driven, and voluntary green building initiatives at the federal level and is likewise poised to assist state and local home building associations with such advocacy efforts.
Green Building Progress in the Home Building Industry
Many building practices that were considered green just 20 years ago are now standard for a lot of home builders. As consumers and the green movement have evolved through the years, it has been important for the home building industry to evolve as well.
Energy codes prescribing specific requirements for insulation in walls, floors, ceilings and windows, and the proliferation of above-code energy programs are examples of this change. Both were non-existent until the late 1970s. Now, energy codes and above-code programs are commonplace and often extend focus beyond just insulation amounts to include whole building tightness testing, lighting, duct testing and more.
Meanwhile, toilets manufactured before 1992 often used over three gallons of water with every flush. Today, however, new toilets such as those carrying a WaterSense label reduce the amount of water used by 20 to 60 percent — which can save nearly 13,000 gallons of water in a home every year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that can translate to a savings of more than $110 per year in water costs and $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilet for the average family.
The growth of renewable energy in the residential sector is another visible example of the trend toward greener building. It took decades for solar panels to be embraced fully, and now they can be found on single-family homes and multifamily dwellings across the country.
A 2011 survey of NAHB members predicts that green homes, which comprised as little as 2 percent of the overall market as recently as 2005, could represent as much as 38 percent of it by 2016. It was this type of market-scale change that prompted NAHB to champion the development of the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS), the only residential green building approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the foremost green rating system for single-family, multifamily and remodeled homes in the United States.
The latest version of that standard, the 2012 NGBS, was published earlier this year to reflect changes in updated building codes, building practices and home technologies. Among the many revisions were changes to the energy component that could result in as much as a 15 percent increase in energy efficiency and an increase in water efficiency across all four performance levels (bronze, silver, gold and emerald). Substantive changes are also found in the land development, material resource, indoor environment and owner education and maintenance sections. Finally, a major overhaul of the remodeling component was conducted to make the NGBS easier to apply for small and large remodeling projects to facilitate improving the environmental performance of older homes.