Home Innovation Insights

Michelle Foster
June 20, 2013

What is an NGBS Green Certified Product?

One of the barriers to green certified housing is the ability for architects, builders, and remodelers to find products that help their project attain certification. The topic of green products in general is fraught with confusion and complexity. How exactly does one ascertain that a product is “green?” Is a single attribute, such as renewability, enough to qualify a product as green? Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource, yet its status as a green product has been hotly debated. These are just some of the myriad questions that arise. One could spend hours researching products that are potentially eco-friendly.

Yet for architects and builders there is a real challenge to find products that help their homes and multifamily buildings attain green certification. Home Innovation Research Labs launched the NGBS Green Certified Products Program specifically to remove that barrier and help architects, designers, and specifiers easily find products that earn points toward certification under the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

What Are They?

To be clear, the NGBS Green Certified Products Program is not Home Innovation Labs certifying that a particular product is green unto itself. Nor is Home Innovation’s green certification mark substantiation in any way that the product’s manufacturing process is green or sustainable. Instead, the NGBS Green Certified mark on a building material or product indicates pre-approval by Home Innovation Labs of specific points for a specific NGBS practice.

Let’s explore what that means. NGBS Practice 604.1 awards up to 6 points toward NGBS certification if two major building components are used that contain more than 75% recycled content. The 2012 NGBS Consensus Committee’s intent was to encourage the use of building products with recycled content over virgin materials in the manufacture of new products. While we can agree that the practice helps promote resource efficiency, how many specifiers would know what building components meet the 75% recycled content requirement? I suspect few, if any.

To remedy this, a manufacturer can apply to Home Innovation Labs to be pre-approved for Practices 604.1. If the manufacturer can provide independent, third-party analysis that their product does in fact meet the minimum recycled-content requirement, it can earn the NGBS Green Certified mark and be listed on our website specifically for being approved for up to 6 points for Practice 604.1. 

Designer & Builder Benefits

The benefit to architects, designers, and builders is that they have an online resource to find products that can help earn their home or multifamily building NGBS green certification. The website provides one-stop comprehensive building product information about hundreds of building products that can help their projects be more efficient and high-performance. The easy-to-navigate website contains useful product information such as a list of other environmental certifications the product may have earned, such as EnergyStar, SFI, or GreenGuard. The detailed product pages link to the manufacturer’s website so specifiers can locate additional installation instructions, warranty information, material safety data sheet (MSDS), and other important product information. Many NGBS Green Certified products also have direct links to the product specifications so specifiers can download product specs into a project folder for future use.

An additional benefit to builders and developers in selecting NGBS Green Certified products is that they can streamline the verification process considerably. If a product is used in a project seeking NGBS certification, the NGBS Green Verifier does not have to do any additional research or documentation to demonstrate that the product earns the project the NGBS certification points. The NGBS Green Certified Product Program can streamline both design and verification reducing the total cost of certification. 

Manufacturer Benefits

For product manufacturers, the NGBS Green Certified Product Program is a credible way to tout the specific green attributes of their products and not run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) recently revised Green Guides. The NGBS green certification mark is exactly what the FTC ordered: specific to an NGBS green category, qualified as to what attribute makes it “green,” substantiated by appropriate analysis and data, and perhaps most important of all, certified by Home Innovation Research Labs, an independent, accredited third party.

Is there ever a requirement for participating NGBS builders to use an NGBS Green Certified product in their homes or buildings? Absolutely not. The program is merely intended to be an easy-to-use resource, with independent, third-party verification that appropriate use of a product meets the intent of a specific NGBS practice. Furthermore, the information is provided free and with unlimited public access. Certainly we hope that NGBS Green Certified product information is useful to our partners certifying their residential projects, but anyone interested in the green attributes of building products can also find benefit in the site.

Interested in having a building product NGBS Green Certified? Let us know. Interested in having your new or remodeled home, multifamily building, or residential land development certified to the National Green Building Standard? Find out how on our site.

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