Home Innovation Insights

Don't just build green homes. Prove it! Use third-party NGBS Green Verifiers.

Prove Your Green Home Claims through Verification

August 1, 2014

As Ronald Reagan famously declared, “Trust, but verify.” We concur, especially when it comes to green home building. All good intentions aside, there is a lot of complex and interdependent building science at work behind the scenes of any high-performance home, which is why third-party verification is critical for us to have confidence declaring a project “green” via our NGBS Green certification program.

The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) and its compliance requirements are straightforward. The NGBS includes six categories of green building practices. For a project to attain certification, architects and builders must successfully incorporate all of the mandatory green practices and then a sufficient number of additional green products, practices, and technologies into the design, construction, and operation of their residential projects in accordance with the standard. The NGBS does not specifically address the verification process necessary to attain any NGBS Green certification level but bestows that responsibility on the Adopting Entity.

Home Innovation Research Labs serves as the National Adopting Entity for the NGBS and sets the verification protocols necessary for a project to become NGBS Green Certified. Our verification process is the most stringent of all the green building rating systems as we require multiple independent, third-party inspections during construction to confirm NGBS compliance. Only homes and apartment buildings that can pass these stringent onsite inspections earn the NGBS Green certification mark.

Home Innovation requires builders to hire an accredited NGBS Green Verifier to inspect the green building practices installed in any project seeking certification. Home Innovation examines both the rough and final verification reports for every project and certifies the project when all the NGBS requirements have been met.

Nationwide Verifier Network: 300+ Verifiers Strong

Rigorous verification is a hallmark of NGBS Green certification. No other green building certification has as thorough a verification protocol, while still being affordable.

We designed our verification process to be simple and affordable, while still maintaining national consistency, stringency, and credibility. Our national network includes over 300 NGBS Green Verifiers trained to inspect every conceivable NGBS certification project, including: new single-family homes, multifamily buildings, remodeling and renovation projects, land development, and even small projects. Verifiers serve as independent, third-party inspectors and, as such, they set their own competitive verification prices and negotiate their own contracts. Verifiers may also provide other services in conjunction with the verification, which may also impact the fees charged. As long as a builder, remodeler, architect, or developer uses an accredited NGBS Green Verifier, Home Innovation has no preference on who performs the NGBS inspections – all our verifiers are accredited to the same high standard of competency to conduct verifications on every type of NGBS residential project. (However, some verifiers have developed specific expertise for large-scale multifamily projects.)

NGBS Green Verification Process: Two Inspection Minimum

Projects seeking NGBS certification will need to be inspected twice by an NGBS Accredited Verifier.  At a minimum, buildings must be inspected before drywall is installed so that the Verifier can inspect the green building practices that are in the wall cavity walls (such as correct insulation installation or sealed ducts), and when the building is complete and all of the green practices are fulfilled.

All verifiers follow a comprehensive Verifier’s Resource Guide to carry out the verification process. This ensures consistency in the inspections and verification reports nationwide. For a project to earn points, most practices are required to be visually inspected. When visual inspection is not appropriate, acceptable documentation review or other alternatives are specified in the Verifier’s Resource Guide. In general, statements from builders/contractors/developers or photos to confirm that the practice has been or will be met are not acceptable, with very few exceptions (e.g., the mandatory capillary break and vapor retarder may be verified by documentation review of the plans, specifications, and scope of work because it is typically not visible at the verifier’s first site inspection). Some practices, particularly in the Lot Design/Construction section, require both documentation review and visual inspection to ensure that features are implemented as designed.

The Mark Matters: NGBS Green Certification Proves its Green

Some builders like to claim they build green homes. They may even advertise their homes are “built to the NGBS.” Should a homebuyer believe such claims of compliance? No. There is simply no way to know if a home will meet the NGBS’s stringent design and construction requirements unless the home has been thoroughly inspected and verified to meet those requirements.

Other builders claim their homes are green because they are built by a Certified Green Professional. Will this ensure a home is truly green? Again, no. Professional training in green building science is a great way for builders and contractors to learn green building practices, but training can’t ensure that the NGBS’s comprehensive requirements are followed correctly. This is especially true in the home building process, where literally dozens of different contractors will have a hand in the construction process. Things happen on a construction site that can make the final product stray from the original plan – sometimes these are insignificant things, sometimes they’re not. It takes an independent third-party to ascertain if those “things” have had any bearing on the inherent green-ness of the structure, and its ability to still comply with the rigor of the NGBS.

Look for the NGBS Green certification mark, or signage indicating the project is registered with Home Innovation and actively “seeking NGBS Green certification.” Our mark is the only way to be sure a home is truly green.

Can you prove your homes are green to homebuyers, or are you hoping they just take your word for it? We can help you show your claims are verifiably green.