Volume 9, Issue 3 - March 2008

Energy and Environmental News 

NAHB Launches Green Building Program 

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has launched its National Green Building Program, an education, verification and certification program that will allow builders to build green homes. The program was launched at the International Builders’ Show held in early February (see related story on page 30). The New American Home™, on display in Orlando, was the first show home to be certified in the new program. The project was awarded “gold” level certification.

The program features an online scoring tool at www.nahbgreen.org, which shows the builder how to accrue points in seven categories: water, energy and resource efficiency, lot and site development, indoor environmental quality, global impact and homeowner education. The program sets point requirements in each category for the bronze, silver and gold levels (see chart below). An Emerald level will also be available once the standard is complete in the spring. 

Homes are inspected and verified by local green experts and the documentation is sent to the NAHB Research Center for review. If the project qualifies, the home can receive national certification from the Research Center. 

Emily English, green building program manager, launched the program to a room full of NAHB attendees. In fact, many were unable to hear the details as the session had to close its doors as it was full to capacity. 

She stressed that the program is available online and is easy to use. In fact, Tom Kenney of the NAHB Research Center said users can keep track of projects online as the program is Internet-based.

“It takes a Turbo Tax approach,” he said. “It walks you through step by step and gives you helpful hints along the way.”

One the standard is approved it will be released as an NAHB/ICC ANSI-approved standard, according to English. 

Cost of participation is $150 per project for NAHB members (will be higher for non-members) in addition to the verifier fee. The association will provide members with a list of accredited verifiers on its website. The verification cost can range from $200-700 dollars, English said.

“It allows builders to pick and choose how they accumulate points,” she added. “It allows for regionally appropriate choices.”

When designing for a project, builders can choose a prescriptive path or a performance path. Kenney said an essential item in the program is energy efficiency. DWM learned that builders can earn eight points for using Energy Star® windows.

Points Required for the 
Three Different Levels of Green Building

Bronze Silver Gold
Lot Design, Preparation and Development 8 10 12
Resource Efficiency 44 60 77
Energy Efficiency 37 62 100

Water Efficiency

6 13 19
Indoor Environmental Quality 32 54 72
Operation, Maintenance and Homeowner Education 7 7 9
Global Impact 3 5 6
Additional points from sections of your choice 100 100 100

LEED versus NAHB
According to English, people always ask how this program differs from the U.S Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes Program. She gave the example of one project that would cost 1 percent more to certify to NAHB and 2.7 percent more to certify to LEED. She also said the NAHB program is less cumbersome. 

“Our builders have told us [LEED is] like applying for a Supreme Court briefing,” she said. “Time is money for builders.”

In the question and answer portion of the session an architect in attendance pointed out that it’s virtually impossible to earn a LEED certification for a large home, for example, 8,000 square feet. He asked if this is the case with NAHB’s program. English said that you don’t get penalized for a large home, but for structures above 4,000 square feet you’ll have to earn points in other areas. 

Another attendee questioned whether the program would become mandated. 

“This is an above-code voluntary standard and we are going to fight to keep it that way,” said English, though she did concede that some areas of the country may mandate it. 

DOE to Undertake Window Research Project
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy intends to issue a “Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to select and fund approximately two teams to develop, manufacture and commercialize cost-effective, highly insulating windows with an NFRC U-value rating of 0.20 BTU/hr-Ft2-°F or lower.” The announcement was made in the Federal Register on Tuesday, February 19.

According to the Federal Register, the FOA is expected to be issued on or about April 21, 2008. The project likely would last 12 to 24 months and would require a 50-50 industry cost-shared effort with the DOE, and those selected for the project will be announced in late 2008. www.energy.gov

LEED for Homes Reference Guide Now Available for Pre-Order Online
The LEED for Homes Reference Guide, a comprehensive tool for residential builders using the LEED for Homes Green Building Rating System, is now available for purchase online at www.usgbc.org/store

The Reference Guide offers more than 350 pages of information, resources and standards for the LEED credits covered within the residential green home certification program.  

The Reference Guide is available for pre-order and will begin shipping in April 2008. www.usgbc.org/store 



DWM

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