There are several different sets of green home building guidelines. The leading standards are LEED, NGBS, Energy Star and HERS. LEED and NGBS are highly similar in standards that have an emphasis on energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and owner education.
Green Home Building Guidelines Breakdown: LEED
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The program is sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC.) There is a LEED program for homes, and another for commercial and other public buildings. LEED is a point based rating system administered on a voluntary basis. They employ inspectors called Green Raters to evaluate homes. The highest score is 136 points and the scores are divided into four categories, certified, silver, gold and platinum.
NGBS is an acronym for National Green Building Standards, a program sponsored by the National Association of Homebuilders. NGBS is otherwise known as ICC-700 the system was devised by the International Code Council and the NGBS. It is approved by the American National Standard’s Institute (ANSI.) NGBS is another voluntary rating system based on points. It is highly similar to LEED in categories and specifications. Their highest possible score is 1100 and their levels are bronze, silver gold and emerald. Their third party inspectors are called Verifiers.
Energy Star is a program sponsored by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy. It is above all a way of describing energy efficiency.
HERS is an acronym for Home Energy Rating System which was developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET.) It is important to note that this score is in reverse order, in that a score of 100 is the minimum IECC recommendations and a score of zero literally means no energy use at all. A score of 85 or lower meets Energy Star requirements.
NGBS seems to be the most flexible standard, mainly because LEED has certain mandatory measures which must be complied to regardless of how well the home scores in other areas. NGBS gives extra points for smaller home while penalizing homes of over 4000 square feet. NGBS, by offering a 1100 point scale lists a lot more items which can earn points. Both LEED and NGBS offer tax and utility advantages to certification, but it is usually more expensive to certify with LEED than with NGBS.
Green Home Building Guidelines: Lot Development Goal
Saving trees, storm water retention, infiltration to prevent erosion and reducing the environmental impact of residing on your lot, count towards certification. Passive solar heating and cooling by the creative use of window placement and home orientation also help the overall score of a home.
Green Home Building Guidelines: Resource Efficiency Goal
The goal of resource efficiency, best matches traditional green principles. It dictates that builders reduce the quantity of materials and waste, enhance durability, reduce maintenance, use renewable and resource efficient materials, reuse materials, use recycled content materials, and recycle any waste materials created by construction. Most interesting to creative people is the innovative options section. This is your time to shine. All the categories, in fact have an innovative options section. This gives you the opportunity to use your own ideas to increase the overall resource efficiency in your own creative ways.
Green Home Building Guidelines: Energy Efficiency Goal
Energy efficiency is the primary focus of most green assessments, and seems to outweigh all other considerations. Also considered in this category is the use of alternative energy such as wind or solar on your property. Installing solar panels greatly improves your score, as does building a smaller home. Again there is an innovative options section which will consider your plans to reduce energy consumption, and give points for your unique solutions.
Green Home Building Guidelines: Water Efficiency Goal
Both indoor and outdoor use of water, are considered part of water efficiency. Some water saving innovations include: using gray water from your washing machine and shower on your lawn, installing low flow or incinerator toilets and water saving shower heads. While water conservation is more crucial in some areas than others, it is given equal point consideration in all areas.
Green Home Building Guidelines: Indoor Environmental Quality Goal
Breathing clean air and freedom from toxic substances in your new home is definitely a win/win situation. Indoor environmental quality can be done by controlling or eliminating sources of contamination, diluting sources of contamination, and also by filtering the air to eliminate contaminates.
Green Home Building Guidelines: Operation, Maintenance and Homeowner Education Goal
This is an educational program, instructing home owners in the procedures of changing air filters, cleaning and servicing vent fans, and the proper use of pesticides and herbicides around the home to keep the environment safe. This area of instruction covers subjects in the other categories, improving air quality, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and resource efficiency in a continual and sustaining way.
By following green principles and guidelines your home can be more efficient, saving both money and resources. For more information on green home building guidelines, see the rest of the articles on this site and download our free 98 page guide.