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2015 NGBS Task Group insider describes why transparency and consensus are key to development.

Hayley King
August 13, 2014

3 Benefits of the ANSI Process for NGBS Development

As the Sustainability Coordinator for Balfour Beatty Communities’ diverse housing portfolio, my chief objective is to recommend and execute efficient products and services that reduce our operating costs while increasing our bottom line. We specialize in public-private partnerships throughout North America, and are a leading provider of property management, development, and related real estate services for the multifamily, military, and student housing markets.

In 2012, Balfour Beatty Communities began pursuing NGBS Green Certification for 250 new multifamily homes at Fort Bliss, Texas, one of the Army’s designated net-zero sites. The project is on track to achieve Emerald-level NGBS Green Certification by 2015, and will be the largest multifamily project Home Innovation has certified Emerald to date. At the beginning of 2014, we also began pursuing Gold certification for 85 single-family homes and a four-star green land certification for a project at Fort Eustis, Va., which is on track to become the largest NGBS Green Certified project in Virginia. (Find out more about these projects in our recent release about our Multifamily Project of the Year award.)

The NGBS provided Balfour Beatty Communities tremendous value with a more energy-efficient, yet lower-cost, alternative to LEED-H. This is particularly important within government housing communities like these, because we cannot raise rents to cover any added costs for green building. As part of my company’s work to pursue these certifications, I have become well-versed in the NGBS and its advantages, and wanted to become more involved in the community discussing and shaping this important work. Earlier this year I was selected to participate in 2015 NGBS Development Process as a member of the Multifamily Task Group, which reviews public comments related to green multifamily construction and will make recommendations for the 2015 update. As a first time participant, I’m excited to be part of a diverse group of advocates that includes government officials, home builders, product manufactures, and other stakeholders.

The NGBS was the first residential green building standard to achieve ANSI approval, which means its development follows a set of ANSI-approved steps to ensure openness and inclusion, as well as a mandate for regular review and updating. As an ANSI-approved process, the NGBS development is unique among other green building standards for a few key reasons:

  1. The process allows ample opportunity for public comment, feedback, and input from NGBS users, like me, who can suggest practical improvements or advances in technology since the last version was developed.
  2. It’s open to anyone who shows interest in volunteering their time as a Census Committee or Task Group Member, and actually goes to great lengths to ensure all potential stakeholders have an equal shot at getting their comments heard and addressed.
  3. The process is transparent – anyone who wants to can follow every step along the way via the open Consensus Committee meetings and/or the postings on the NGBS development webpage. This is a key characteristic that often goes unnoticed when associated with green building standards.

Any ANSI-approved product or service must comply with rigorous standards such as transparency, and checks and balances while following consensus-based guidelines. The NGBS development process is no different. Public comments and suggestions are solicited and then taken forward by each volunteer-appointed Task Group, whose members are chosen based on field experience and balance of stakeholder interests. After discussing each public comment, Task Groups develop recommendations for the 2015 NGBS edition to be reviewed by the full Consensus Committee. Once all proposed changes are addressed, the standard will be submitted to ANSI review and approval. To this point, the comments submitted and discussed by my Task Group have been aimed at alleviating common confusion with the existing wording in the NGBS, and introducing some new opportunities for efficiencies. Many of the proposed changes have an emphasis on introducing or enhancing present energy reduction strategies, which leads to a lot of overlap between the Multifamily and Energy Efficiency Task Groups. The process has been very interesting and enlightening.

I’m proud to represent Balfour Beatty Communities in these efforts, and eager to be involved as my Task Group continues consider how to best enhance and refine the multifamily portion of the 2015 NGBS. I am confident we will come out with a green rating system for multifamily buildings that will be even more practical and efficient than we’ve already found the NGBS to be for our projects.

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