Home Innovation Insights

ANSI approval process ensures the National Green Building Standard stays current.

Michelle Foster
July 1, 2016

2015 NGBS: Keeping Up With The Times

In April, ANSI approved the most recent version of the ICC/ASHRAE 700-2015 National Green Building Standard (NGBS). This iteration preserves the standard's tradition as the building industry’s benchmark for residential projects designed and built for high performance, and makes it easier than ever to incorporate green features into your next project.

First published in 2009, the NGBS sets the bar for sustainable and high-performance residential construction and provides a pathway for builders and developers to seek third-party certification of new single- and multifamily homes, developments, and remodeling projects. While the NGBS is completely voluntary, it serves as the basis for many federal, state, and local green building programs.  Builders, developers, and consumers whose projects are NGBS Green Certified may also be eligible for incentives, such as tax credits, permit streamlining, or density bonuses.

Forecasts suggest that the green single-family housing market will represent 26 to 33 percent of the market this year. As green building becomes more common, the value of the NGBS to the industry becomes clearer. The NGBS is the only ANSI-approved green building standard specifically designed for residential projects. It covers everything from converting raw land into finished lots, to single-family new home design and construction, to high-rise multifamily development. The standard also delivers a stand-alone chapter for both home remodeling and additions to and renovations of apartments and condos.  

In short, the NGBS outlines a variety of green practices and materials that can be used to minimize a project’s environmental footprint and create a higher quality home that provides consumer benefits, such as lower utility bills, improved indoor air quality, and increased home value. Recognizing that what is considered green construction will vary according to the climate, geography, and market preferences, the standard’s flexibility allows builders, developers, and remodelers to integrate green features at the appropriate level for their businesses and housing markets.

The 2015 edition incorporates changes that better align the NGBS with the 2015 family of ICC building codes, expands the application of innovative practices, and builds upon years of designing, building, operating, and certifying to the NGBS. Some of the more notable updates include:

  • Substantial revisions to the Energy Efficiency chapter, which now has more stringent rating levels based upon whole-house energy savings that are above the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code
  • A new energy compliance path for the HERS Index
  • Mandatory Grade I insulation installation
  • A comprehensive update of exterior and interior lighting provisions, including common areas in multifamily buildings
  • Mandatory installation of carbon monoxide alarms for all IRC-regulated buildings, regardless of level of certification or local code
  • Revamped stormwater management options that encourage low-impact development practices, such as swales and rain gardens
  • Greater emphasis on and recognition of multi-modal transportation options including bicycle parking, pedestrian connectivity, proximity to transit. and electric-vehicle charging
  • New references for Environmental Product Declarations for both specific and industry-wide products
  • Expanded provisions for Universal Design

Home innovation certifies projects to the Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Emerald levels by reaching progressively more rigorous goals for energy, water and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, site development, and home owner education. The NGBS is the only national rating system that requires this kind of comprehensive rigor for all the attributes that contribute to a home’s “green-ness.” With more than 80,000 NGBS Green Certified homes to date nationwide, Home Innovation’s certification program is increasingly becoming the program of choice for builders and developers across the country.

For anyone in the residential construction industry looking for a credible and comprehensive definition of green that allows for regional and market-based flexibility, the NGBS is the best option. It allows builders to set themselves apart by responding to the growing consumer demand for more responsible, higher-performing housing options without creating unnecessary administrative burdens or adding significant cost. Building to the standard is also responsive to the criteria homebuyers have identified as being the most influential in their purchasing decisions – energy efficiency, low maintenance, resale value, and a healthy indoor environment. Whether new to high-performance building or a seasoned veteran, the NGBS and NGBS Green certification make it easy to become part of the growing green market.

As of July 1st, all NGBS Green Verifiers (as well as prospective verifiers) have access to the 2015 NGBS Green training course. We’ve also recently made the 2015 NGBS New Construction scoring tool available to download for those interested in scoring their new single-family or multifamily projects. We have not made a determination yet as to when the 2012 version will sunset, but you can sign up to receive our Insider Update, where we’ll announce that decision when it’s made. If you have questions about the new version of the standard or the certification program, let us know.

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Michael R Weekes PE
Monday, September 12, 2016 12:42 PM
"Great article.

I'd like to chat
Please,see my
SANE house article
July 3rd
State newspaper
Small, affordable, neutral energy.

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I have a write paper and ppt to go with it."