Home Innovation Insights

Vladimir Kochkin
September 27, 2012

What's New in the 2012 NGBS?

As you may be aware, a consensus review and update process for the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is in its final stretch. As with all ANSI-approved standards, the update process has been open and consensus-based, with proposed changes and public comments accepted from all interested parties. A balanced and independent committee of experts, the Consensus Committee, considered all proposals and made the final collective decision on all revisions. The new version of the NGBS is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2013. Because Home Innovation Research Labs served as secretariat for both the first and most recent NGBS development processes, we wanted to let you know what will be different, enhanced, or improved from the 2008 version.

The new version builds upon the cumulative stakeholder experiences with the 2008 NGBS, including perspectives on design, construction, certification, and operation of new and existing green single- and multifamily buildings and green residential land developments. In addition, the updates align the NGBS with building codes that have been adopted around the country since the 2008 version was approved by ANSI. Below is a list of some of the most notable updates that you can expect when the new document becomes available.

1.  The Energy Efficiency Chapter has been substantially revised with the new rating levels based on whole-house energy savings above the 2009 IECC. The prescriptive path has been reanalyzed to ensure a closer alignment with the performance path on a whole-house energy use basis. The Bronze rating level (the minimum certification level for compliance with the NGBS) is set at 15 percent above the 2009 IECC, which was selected as the baseline by the Consensus Committee because the majority of the country is expected to be using the 2009 IECC or a derivative of it when the 2012 NGBS becomes available as a certification option. In any jurisdiction where the 2012 IECC code has been adopted, the NGBS Energy Chapter can be implemented at a higher rating level (i.e., Silver) or at the Bronze rating level with a primary focus on other green building attributes (e.g., land development, resource efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, etc.).

2.  The point assignments for Water Efficiency practices have been reanalyzed to achieve an improved internal consistency with regard to actual water savings. In addition to other revisions, the provisions for rainwater collection and distribution have been expanded to encourage rainwater use for irrigation and indoor demand.

3.  The remodeling provisions have undergone a substantive revision. The new NGBS will provide two options for remodelers interested in getting their green projects rated: (1) achieving a rating for an entire remodeled home to one of four levels of compliance; or (2) achieving minimum compliance for a remodeled functional area such as a kitchen, bathroom, basement, or addition. The first option will be most appropriate for green remodeling projects that involve a significant renovation of the entire building. The second option is geared toward a large market of smaller remodeling projects that focus only on one or more parts of the home. All renovation and addition notes have been removed from the new NGBS and the remodeling practices have been organized into two standalone chapters — Chapters 11 and 12 — that address only remodeling. The new format facilitates greater ease-of-use by directing users to the provisions that are applicable to their project, whether it is new or existing construction.

4.  The durability provisions have been reorganized, expanded, and compiled into a single section as part of the Resource Efficiency Chapter (Ch. 6). Chapter 9 of the NGBS no longer contains practices related to durability. Expanded durability provisions include flashing details and encourage architectural features and designs that minimize the potential for water intrusion.

5.  Homes built in a green development get rewarded by accumulating related points under lot design. This practice encourages builders to obtain lots from green-developed communities and, in turn, stimulate green practices by large land developers. Selection of infill and low-slope lots will also be awarded with points to encourage development in urban areas and away from high-slope sites.

6.  The life cycle analysis practice has been expanded and refined. The practice lists specific environmental impact measures for use in the assessment and establishes minimum improvement thresholds. Builders now can get credit for selecting environmentally preferable products or assemblies or a whole-house system based on performing an appropriate level LCA.

7.  The implementation of green practices for multifamily buildings has been clarified by the Consensus Committee to include common areas.

8.  Community gardens are encouraged as part of the development strategies to provide local food production options for residents or area consumers.

Once the 2012 NGBS becomes available as a certification option, Home Innovation Research Labs will begin providing certification services to it. A free registration process will be implemented soon by Home Innovation Labs to allow builders to select the rating system they plan to use. Stay tuned to this blog and the green certification pages on the site for notification of when that system will become active. You can also subscribe to our Insider Update e-newsletter to get regular certification program updates and related news from around the country.

Let us know what you think the most significant improvement will be in the 2012 NGBS.

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