Home Innovation Insights

Continual improvement has lead to NGBS Green Certification's growth & success.

Michelle Foster
September 18, 2015

Kaizen is Key to the Success of NGBS Green

Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement; a belief that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. In the six years since Home Innovation played a critical role in the development of the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 (NGBS) and began to offer NGBS Green Certification to the residential industry, our kaizen approach has helped drive our success.

Over the summer, the NGBS Consensus Committee held public deliberations in Washington, DC, on proposed revisions to the 2012 NGBS. As an ANSI-approved standard, the NGBS must be kept current and relevant by means of timely revision, reaffirmation, or action to stabilize. The NGBS specifically is in continued maintenance mode. Regular updates ensure advances in building codes, technology, and other developments can be considered for incorporation into the NGBS; this also safeguards the NGBS’s status as an above-code green rating system. The NGBS was last updated in 2012 and again approved by ANSI in January 2013.

Anyone who has endured the standard development process can attest that re-runs of Gilligan’s Island can at times seem a far more entertaining, even worthwhile, use of one’s time. Nevertheless, important improvements inevitably result from the consensus process to update the NGBS. The 2012 NGBS not only increased the energy- and water-efficiency requirements for homes and multifamily buildings, but also incentivized new technologies such as smart appliances; mandated high-quality insulation installation and ventilation for tight buildings; and recognized small residential remodeling projects that incorporate green practices and products.

The 2015 NGBS deliberations were equally instrumental in helping residential architects, builders, developers, and remodelers to design and construct high-performance, sustainable homes that require even less energy and water. The 2015 NGBS development process is anticipated to be complete by the end of the year, and if ANSI once again confers its approval on the revisions, the NGBS will be continue to serve as an invaluable tool to create better places to call home.

Continuous improvement of the NGBS is just one strategic element helping drive the NGBS to be the green building rating system of choice for the residential industry. Equally important, if not more important is our drive for continual improvement of NGBS Green certification.

Consider, for example, our annual invitation-only retreat for NGBS Green Verifiers. The retreat is designed to engage verifiers as our business partners to ensure NGBS Green certification delivers increasing value to existing and prospective clients. Each year we revisit the same core questions:

  • What are the barriers to the design and construction of high-performance green homes?
  • How can we eliminate those barriers?

On a day-to-day basis, our NGBS Green Verifiers spend long days at design charrettes with architects, inspecting homes under construction, and reviewing building plans and specs. Few individuals are better suited to help develop pragmatic and insightful program improvements. The ideas borne out of the first two Retreats have been instrumental to the success of NGBS Green Certification. Each Retreat yields a bounty of recommendations – enough to supply Home Innovation’s Green Team with a year’s worth of new projects and assignments. As a result, our processes and procedures are more streamlined and efficient, which helps further reduce the incremental cost of green, sustainable construction. Home Innovation looks forward to welcoming Verifiers back to our campus each summer to hear what new ideas and innovations our top verifiers have for us to consider.

The newly formed NGBS Green Advisory Group is yet another way for Home Innovation to engage builders and developers in meaningful discussions as to how the residential industry can profitably produce buildings with higher efficiencies, greater inherent value, and smaller environmental impacts.

When we set out to deliver an affordable, credible, yet rigorous green certification choice for homes, multifamily communities, and land developments we knew we wouldn’t get everything right. Instead of worrying about being perfect, we aimed for nimble, responsive, and reliable. Over the past six years we have tweaked, considered, revised, honed, studied, analyzed, corrected, and reconsidered all aspects of the NGBS Green Certification program. We are continually on the lookout for ways to innovate and for new, better ways to deliver rigorous green certification and boost our productivity.

Earlier this year, Home Innovation celebrated our 50,000th NGBS Green certified home; we’ve now topped 58,000! While we certainly have done some good work, there is still lots more we can do. Every newly registered home offers us an opportunity to improve. Do you have ideas for how we can bring even more value to NGBS Green certification? We’d love to hear from you.

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