Home Innovation Insights

Michelle Foster
April 5, 2013

2013: A Green Building Odessy

This is shaping up to be a transformative year for green home building. Below is a summary of some of the noteworthy activities that have transpired in just the first quarter of this year, which have been a catalyst for a great deal of optimism and excitement in and around our Home Innovation NGBS Green Building Certification program.

ANSI Approves 2012 NGBS

In January, the American National Standards Institute approved the 2012 version of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS). The 2012 NGBS builds upon the cumulative stakeholder experiences with the 2008 version, including perspectives on design, construction, certification, and operation of new and existing green single- and multifamily buildings and green residential land developments and cements its position as the only ANSI-approved residential green building rating system. The 2012 NGBS approval comes roughly three years after Home Innovation Research Labs (then the NAHB Research Center) began to serve as Adopting Entity and providing green certification services to home builders and developers. In three years the growth of the certification program has been noteworthy. We have certified roughly 5,800+ single-family homes and over 11,000 apartments as being in compliance with the NGBS. Even more significant is the pipeline of projects that have registered to seek NGBS certification — presently over 1,500 single-family homes and almost 40,000 apartments are in-process for NGBS green home certification.

'Home Innovation' Takes Center Stage in NGBS Green Certification

While on its face our corporate name change (from the NAHB Research Center to Home Innovation Research Labs) might not seem directly related to growth in green home building, it is actually part of both the genesis of the shift and the momentum that's building as a result of of the change. Going forward there should be no confusion or doubt about the fact that our organization is an independent third-party testing and certification body, and not a membership organization, enhancing the public perception and credibility of the program on all fronts. We have already seen our new name bear fruit in terms of the improved consumer reaction our builder participants are getting, and we believe this marketing boost will only grow over time. 

Pool of Incentives for NGBS Green Homes Continues to Grow

Over the last few months, we have continued to see both new and extended incentives for green homes built and certified to the NGBS. Be sure to check our list of available incentives frequently — this list is updated as real-time as possible once we become aware of an incentive; if there's one you are aware of that's not reflected on the list, be sure to let us know. Most recently under the umbrella of incentives, we reported on the news that the energy efficient tax credit survived the fiscal cliff; and that Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funds are available for green homes built in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy (i.e., NY, NJ, CT, RI, and MD).

Today we also submitted comments to the GSA suggesting that the National Green Building Standard should be considered as a go-to green rating system for the Federal government to use and endorse. While not an incentive, this type of Federal-level recognition as an endorsed, consensus-based, ANSI-approved green home rating system would only enhance the likelihood of the NGBS being called out specifically by states and municipalities in their legislation.

Appraisal Institute Introduces Green Addendum

In March, the Appraisal Institute released an updated form intended to help analyze values of green and energy-efficient home features. The Institute originally issued its Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum in September 2011, as an optional addendum to Fannie Mae Form 1004, the most widely used form for mortgage lending purposes. Form 1004 devotes limited attention to energy-efficient features, so green data usually doesn’t appear in the appraisal report, or it is included in a lengthy narrative that often is ignored. The updated five-page green addendum, which reflects input from both NAHB and USGBC, now allows appraisers to identify and describe a home’s green features, from solar panels to energy-saving appliances, and identify specific green certifications, including NGBS and LEED certifications. (See the item on this in our March 2013 Insider Update.)

NGBS Program Grows to Serve Our Partner Needs

Based on the feedback we have received, we understand that our NGBS program partners, be they architects, accredited verifiers, home builders, or multifamily developers, have appreciated that we try to be responsive and deliver exceptional customer service throughout the certification process. Technical assistance, interpretations, and building science support are available to all of our NGBS Green Partners and our goal remains a one-business-day turnaround. We understand that the residential construction industry has multiple certification options available – we strive to be the green home certification program of choice for the industry.

To ensure that we can continue to provide exceptional customer service, we were very pleased this week to welcome Cindy Wasser as our new manager of green building programs. Cindy comes to Home Innovation from the National Association of Counties (NACo) where she  developed and implemented a variety of educational programming and technical assistance related to green building design, residential energy efficiency, and green product purchasing for county elected officials and staff. Her expertise working with a wide variety of clients from product manufacturers to local officials will help us continue the growing nationwide recognition and acceptance of NGBS certification from within the industry — working with builders, remodelers, and developers — as well as outside the industry promoting the NGBS to elected and regulatory officials. Cindy also looks forward to helping NGBS certification program partners effectively communicate the benefits of certified green homes to home renters and buyers. We hope that you will welcome Cindy to our staff and feel free to contact her directly (301.430.6206) if she can provide you with green certification assistance.

Looking Ahead

Our 2013 green workplan is comprehensive and ambitious. We are excited about a number of new initiatives we are working on to break down some of the transaction barriers related to green homes such as appraisals that don’t recognize green and energy-efficient features, lending practices that don’t consider utility expenses, and developing improved ways for consumers to find certified green homes. If you are an existing certification program partner, we hope we are able to provide you with increasing value and to help you attain the highest level of success, whatever your specific business in the residential construction industry. If you are new to our green home certification program, or considering participating, we hope you take a closer look at how we can leverage our expertise, relationships, and passion to ensure your future success.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:51 PM
"Finally, Appraisal Institute Introduces Green Addendum. This will encourage home owners to install Green/energy saving features knowing there will be financial return at time of sale."