Home Innovation Insights

Verification may be the biggest cost associated with green certification -- be sure you get the most out of it.

Michelle Foster
November 14, 2014

Maximize the Value of Your Green Home Verification

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

We designed our verification process to be straightforward and affordable. Our national network includes over 400 accredited NGBS Green Verifiers trained to inspect every conceivable residential project: single-family; multifamily; new construction; remodeling/renovation (whole-house/building or small projects); and land development. 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. So long as you use an accredited NGBS Green Verifier, we have no preference for who performs the NGBS inspections.

One thing is for sure, an experienced verifier can help your project team get the most value out of the verification. So my suggestion is to not just endure verification. Rather, embrace it. Make it work for you on whatever project you’re having certified. After all, you are paying for it – why not maximize the value of the verification!

Here are five easy tips to maximize the value of NGBS Green verification:

1. Select a Verifier Early

The sooner the better. Interview accredited NGBS Green Verifiers as soon as you are thinking about green certification. All Home Innovation-accredited verifiers have been trained to do any of the certification types (land development, multifamily, single family, renovations), but many have specific areas of expertise so it pays to speak with a few before you make your final selection.

Verifiers understand the NGBS Green Certification process, they are experts on the NGBS, and they know the documentation that must be collected.

2. Meet & Consult With Your Verifier

Ideally you should meet with your verifier before construction starts to go through the checklist of green practices in detail. At this meeting review the mandatory practices that must be completed for any level of certification. Review the rest of the green practices to hear from the verifier which practices are checked at the rough inspection and which are inspected at the final inspection. Make sure you know what documentation the verifier will need to collect. Verifiers can typically suggest the most cost-effective and easy-to-implement practices, and those that make the most sense for your particular project. Confirm the project point total and points required by category so you can see what certification level (Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Emerald) you are likely to attain. Always plan to attain some extra points in each category, just in case your verifier doesn’t approve all that you’re seeking to reach a certain certification level.

3. Build a Documentation Library

Every builder has a number of green practices and products that they rely on over and over again. For these practices, you should create Master Documentation Folders, either electronic or physical, organized by NGBS practice. For example, if you regularly use a carpet brand that complies with Practice 901.6, save a copy of the manufacturer's literature in your appropriate NGBS folder so you have it handy to reference for future projects.

4. Get The Whole Team On Board

Attaining NGBS Green Certification for your projects is an exciting achievement for the whole team. Make sure you get everyone on board early and help equip them for success in reaching this shared goal. Communicate your desire to have the project certified. Tell your staff, subs, trade partners, and contractors what will be necessary from them in clear, specific terms. For example, if you need your contractors to use low-VOC adhesives and sealants, make sure they understand the specific VOC limits they need to meet. Your window supplier should understand that last-minute substitutions of windows that do not meet the NGBS requirements could jeopardize certification. Provide training, if necessary, on specific issues such as keeping HVAC supply registers covered during the construction process. Make sure everyone understands that the project will be inspected by a verifier who will occasionally be on site.

5. Simplify The Process

Soon after you receive your first green certification, be sure to do a quick debrief with your team and verifier to figure out what worked well, what could be improved the next time, and how to streamline the process going forward. Many of our NGBS Green Partners have found that going through the NGBS Green Certification process not only helps them construct better homes, but also helps them improve the processes within their construction businesses.

Third-party verification of NGBS compliance provides consumers with assurance that their home will truly be green as defined by a national, ANSI-approved standard. For builders, verifiers can serve as a trusted green adviser who can help streamline and add value to the NGBS Green Certification process.

What specific benefits have you found in working with NGBS Green Verifiers? Let us know.

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