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American National Standards Institute, National Association of Home Builders and International Code Council

The NGBS is intended to become part of the building code adopted by municipalities rather than a voluntary adoption program like LEED.  As such, NGBS is a new approach to regulating and encouraging green building practices in the residential markets that through adoption, implementation and enforcement, may provide great inroads to creating a more sustainable building industry.  The NGBS is uniquely positioned to be integrated with the International Building Code which is becoming the national standard for most building types in most municipalities. 

With an eye toward affordability, enforceability and ease of implementation, the NGBS should have substantial impact on how we build homes in the United States.  For decades, the structure of building codes dictated how the environment could impact the building, but with the adoption of the NGBS, the code can now start to define how or buildings can impact the environment.

The NGBS is written in mandatory language rather than the approach of writing guidelines or options.  The means by which criteria are met are still left to the designer, builders and owners, but the spirit of the standard is to mandate new building practices.  The intent is that state, local, municipal and federal agencies will adopt the new standard and apply it to new and existing construction.  The adopting agency becomes responsible for the application, compliance and enforcement of the standard.  An adopting agency may choose to expand or modify the standard so long as those changes reflect the intent of the standard. 

The NGBS is the first green building standard to be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which gives the NGBS a very powerful position in the residential building industry.  To pass the standard a consensus committee was formed that included builders, building officials, members of the U.S. Green Building Council, members of the Green Building Initiative, and representatives from both the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. 

The National Green Building Standard, also known as ICC 700-2008, was adopted in February of 2009.  The standard came about following the Green Building Policy Position Statement by the International Code Council (ICC) in 2006 and the request of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to form a consensus based code that addressed sustainable building practices in today's residential markets. 

After a nearly 3 year period, which required a two-thirds majority to pass every provision in the standard as well as required input from multiple interested parties, the standard was passed.  The NGBS is a living document, meant to change as time and the industry moves forward.

The NGBS is divided into three main compliance paths. 

  1. Green Subdivision:  This subdivision provides a means by which developers can earn ratings for their undeveloped land that they are preparing for development.  The performance levels that can be attained through this subdivision are one to four stars.
  2. Green Buildings:  This is the more traditional approach, which applies to new construction or existing construction completed during or after 1980.  This subdivision is broken into six categories which are; Lot Design, Preparation, and Development; Resource Efficiency; Energy Efficiency; Water Efficiency; Indoor Environmental Quality and Operation, Maintenance and Building Owner Education.  Furthermore, there are provisions for how to address multi-unit buildings in this section of the standard.  The performance levels that can be attained are Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald.
  3. Green Renovations and Additions: This subdivision addresses the already millions of existing homes that make up the housing stock in this country.  Renovations and additions to existing buildings built before 1980 qualify for this subdivision of the standard.  The performance levels are the same as for Green Buildings but are based solely on reduction in energy and water consumption in accordance with the standard.

While the additions of standards to address green sites and subdivisions as well as renovations and additions are important, the bulk of the applicability for this standard lies in changing new construction habits.  The rating system is structured so that a building must attain minimum levels in each of the six categories as well as a prescribed number of additional points from any category, sort of like taking electives in school.  This structure prevents homes from loading up in one or two categories while neglecting others.  In addition to the point earning criteria under the standards, there are also a series of mandatory measures that must be met in order to be in compliance.

It is likely that the NGBS will be mostly on a volunteer basis at first, but as time passes and more jurisdictions adopt this new standard as a component of the local building codes, there will be more and more mandatory adherence to the NGBS.  If a jurisdiction has not adopted the standard, a builder or owner may choose to participate through third party verification.



American National Standards Institute - http://www.ansi.org

International Code Council - http://www.iccsafe.org

National Association of Home Builders - http://www.nahb.org

NAHB National Green Building Program - http://www.nahbgreen.org

Buying a copy of the NGBS - http://store.builderbooks.com/cgi-bin/builderbooks/874?id=kh25n99N&mv_pc=43

NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines - http://www.nahbgreen.org/Guidelines/nahbguidelines.aspx

Green Building Initiative - http://www.thegbi.org

US Department of Energy - http://www.energy.gov

US Environmental Protection Agency - http://www.epa.gov

United States Green Building Council - http://www.usgbc.org