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September 29, 2011

Chicago Study Shows Cost Advantages of National Green Building Standard Compared to LEED for Homes

Upper Marlboro, Md. - A new report on green certification costs for home building and remodeling in the Chicago market says that the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is a more flexible, affordable alternative for certifying single-family homes, townhouses, and condos than other national or regional green building certifications. The study compared the NGBS with the Chicago Green Homes (CGH) program and LEED-H, the rating system for single-family homes developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

"In all cases, registration, verification and certification costs for LEED-H were greater than the estimated costs for the CGH and the Standard," according to the study. "LEED-H registration, verification, and certification costs are approximately $2,776 compared to about $500 for verification and certification in the CGH or NGBS rating systems."

"We are happy to see yet another independent study provide proof that certification to the National Green Building Standard is a credible, yet affordable path to high-performing, green residential buildings," said Michael Luzier, president and CEO of Home Innovation Research Labs, which provides third-party certification to the NGBS through its National Green Building Certification Program.

"This study underscores the 'win-win' proposition of having a home certified to the Standard - it gives builders a way to legitimately go green and market that differentiation without busting their budgets, and it gives consumers at any price point a third-party, national certification they can rely on as verification of the green claims their builder is making."

Released by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, the "Urban Green Building Rating System Cost Comparison" was conducted by FitzGerald Associates Architects, PC. The study focuses on both the direct and indirect costs of meeting the requirements to attain certification under the three rating systems.

While previous studies have demonstrated that building homes to the National Green Building Standard is less expensive than building them to other, equally stringent rating systems, this is the first study to look at affordability as it applies to "six-flats," the multifamily condo buildings typical of many Chicago neighborhoods.

When home builders or remodelers use the NGBS as a roadmap for building or remodeling green multifamily buildings, "the certification cost savings multiply greatly," said Patrick Coveny, chair of the Chicago HBA's High Performance Home Green Building Council, "so you can see the true benefit of using that rating system."

With the release of this study, the HBA hopes the findings will convince city leaders that the NGBS should be an option, along with LEED-H and CGH, for home builders and remodelers to be able to participate in the city’s green building initiatives.

The implications can also be much wider, said Kevin Morrow, senior program manager for green building at NAHB. "While the study focused on residential structures in Chicago, the findings can be used in other urban areas to gauge the cost of meeting various residential green building programs, especially where multifamily construction predominates," he said.

A copy of the final report is posted online. For more information on certification to the National Green Building Standard, visit www.nahbgreen.org/Certification or contact Home Innovation Research Labs.

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ABOUT: Home Innovation Research Labs, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., is a full-service research, testing, and consulting firm determined to improve the quality, durability, affordability, and environmental performance of single- and multifamily homes and home building products – in short, we aim to perfect the home. Founded in 1964 as a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), our team has been integral in solving many of our client’s most difficult product and technology issues, and helping to introduce some of the most groundbreaking innovations in residential construction. Through an interdisciplinary research approach – including market research, building science analysis, laboratory testing, and standards development – we help to find a home for innovation in the residential construction industry.

NOTE TO EDITORS ON STYLE USAGE: To identify this company and its work correctly, first reference should be "Home Innovation Research Labs." In subsequent mentions, "Home Innovation Labs” or simply “Home Innovation” are acceptable and accurate alternative references; we are not identified by an acronym. Prior to February 12, 2013, the company was known as the NAHB Research Center.