There’s a saying that clients can have good, fast, or affordable. (OK, so it’s actually “good, fast, or cheap,” but I’ve never been a girl who wanted to be associated with that attribute!) The saying continues that you can pick two, but then the third will be whatever it has to be based on the other two choices. So if you want good + fast, the result will be expensive.
Contrary to this common belief, when designing NGBS Green Certification our goal was to deliver a program that met all three criteria. We wanted a program that was rigorous and credible; so we could be confident it was producing high-performance green homes. We wanted a program with excellent customer service; so clients did not have to suffer delays to get technical assistance, interpretations, or their certification documentation. And we wanted a program that was affordable; so that cost was never a barrier.
To date we have consistently delivered against our promise. However, sometimes we must defend the reputation of the program to those that can’t believe we can provide all three. “Too good to be true … How can they issue NGBS Green certifications in such a timely fashion? … Must be a rubber stamp.”
So for others curious, or perhaps skeptical, about how we manage to be affordable, rigorous, AND affordable, let me draw the curtain back on the Home Innovation NGBS Green Certification process.
We start with a suite of certification tools and program resources designed to standardize the program, eliminate user error, simplify the requirements, and demystify the process. The NGBS Green Scoring Tools document the green building practices an architect and builder intend to implement. Our scoring spreadsheets work like TurboTax® by walking architects, builders, and remodelers through the NGBS requirements in a simple, straightforward way. We walk users through the scoring process by having cells in the spreadsheets turn red when NGBS logic is violated or mandatory practices are missed, and the spreadsheets keep a running tally of certification points.
NGBS Green Verifiers work closely with architects and builders early in the design stage to help ensure the project will successfully meet NGBS requirements. Up-front collaboration between the design team, construction managers, and building owner streamlines the verification process and helps ensure the building meets its performance objectives.
Once the building design is scored, the same spreadsheet is used by an Accredited NGBS Green Verifier who visually inspects the building to ensure that all of the green practices are installed. For many practices, the verifier must also ensure the practice is installed correctly. Home Innovation requires every home and apartment to be inspected at least twice so the verifier can confirm the green practice, product, or technology before awarding the building points toward certification. Verifiers cannot award points unless they are completely satisfied. Architect attestations, builder promises, and contractor assurances are irrelevant in our verification process.
Home Innovation Labs qualifies, trains, tests, and accredits every verifier. All verifiers must pass a stringent test on every version of the NGBS to maintain their accreditation. Most NGBS Green Verifiers are consummate buildings science professionals. Having said that, we have no hesitation terminating a verifier’s accreditation if he/she violates our established requirements.
Our NGBS Green partners are provided with free technical assistance. NGBS interpretations are free. Our staff includes mechanical, structural, and electrical engineers; planners; economists; architects; former builders, remodelers, and contractors; lab technicians; and market research experts. Combined, we possess an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience in all facets of building science research and testing. Our expertise can help clients along their path to NGBS Green certification.
We aim to respond to requests for assistance or interpretations within one business day. Home Innovation has a nimble and collaborative team that allows us to scale-up, by tapping into resources throughout the organization or scale-down, as needed. For this reason, review of an inspection report can be complete within a day typically, rather than weeks or months.
Have we had 100% success in meeting this goal? No. But we come very close, and each and every client has access to my email address, as well as both my direct business and mobile phone numbers. The same is true for Bob Hill, our Director of Laboratory and Certification Services, and Cindy Wasser, our Manager of Green Building Programs. If an NGBS Green Partner has a problem, they can give us a call. Superior customer service is paramount to us -- we aim to be the green certification program of choice for home builders.
We regularly audit our verifiers for quality assurance, which includes Home Innovation staff audits of a percentage of all field inspections. In addition, because the verification report is completed on a customized and proprietary worksheet, the first stage of our verification report review is automated to catch any obvious errors and inconsistencies. Once a verification report passes that first step, each is then reviewed by a trained member of our staff. We still rely on old-fashioned, human examination and analysis before we issue an NGBS Green Certified certificate.
Objectivity. Rigor. Efficiency. We bring these core values to the suite of services we offer. Whether testing building products as an ISO 17020-accredited inspection agency, collecting actionable data from builders on construction issues, or certifying homes in compliance with the NGBS, our staff is efficient, reliable, and a true independent third-party.
If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them for you – I may not want to be perceived as cheap, but I have no problem being transparent!***