Home Innovation Insights

NGBS Green is many things – clear, flexible, affordable, attainable, achievable. But it’s not easy.

Michelle Foster
December 3, 2020

Don’t Call Us Easy! Just Because the NGBS is Popular, Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Rigorous

We often hear speculation that because NGBS Green is the most widely used green building certification for residentially-used buildings, it must be the easiest and least rigorous to attain. Clearly, the individuals making those speculations have not taken the time to dig in and understand why NGBS Green is the most popular program. Below is my take on why NGBS Green is the leading green certification program – spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with being less rigorous. In fact, NGBS compliance may be the most difficult of all the green building certification programs when measuring the expected performance of the buildings being certified.

Here are 10 reasons NGBS Green is the most preferred green building certification:

  1. Compliance requirements are written in code language.
    NGBS Green certifies buildings in conformance with the National Green Building Standard ICC-700. As an I-code, the NGBS is written in code language, which makes it easily understandable by almost everyone on the project team: the architect, the builder, the insulation installer, the MEP engineers, the HVAC contractor, the carpenters, etc. There is no need for a consultant or accredited professional to translate NGBS requirements. Anyone on the project team can download a free version of the NGBS. And, if it is not immediately apparent what is necessary for compliance, Home Innovation’s resources are always free.
  2. Compliance is aligned with the ICC suite of I-codes.
    Another benefit of being an I-code is that the NGBS is perfectly aligned with the building codes used nationwide. The baseline for the 2020 NGBS is the 2018 International Building Code (IBC), 2018 International Residential Code (IRC), and the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). If the building is in a state that has already adopted the 2018 suite of I-codes, the project team will already be familiar with compliance related to those provisions. And if the building is in a state that has not yet adopted the 2019 suite of I-codes, NGBS Green certification provides an opportunity for the project team to reach that level of building performance as a voluntary stretch code.
  3. The NGBS offers flexibility for compliance.
    Unlike Lululemon, which learned the hard way that one size doesn’t fit all, the NGBS nailed this truism from the first version in 2008. Each NGBS version sets specific building performance standards and then provides flexibility to attain those performance levels. For example, Bronze certification requires 231 points, however, the NGBS offers over 1,100 points from which to choose. For water efficiency, architects can select from a prescriptive (checklist) approach or a performance (modeling) approach to calculate a Water Rating Index (WRI). For energy efficiency, architects similarly have a choice in prescriptive or performance paths, but there are also alternative compliance options for buildings seeking ENERGY STAR certification or those in the Tropical Zone.
  4. The NGBS was specifically designed for homes – no matter how that’s defined.
    The NGBS is specifically designed as a green rating system for homes, multifamily buildings, and other building types where we live, such as student housing, assisted living facilities, and even monasteries and convents. The places we live are different in the way they are used, financed, operated, maintained, and designed as compared to other building types. Other green building rating systems were first designed for commercial buildings, and then residentially-used buildings were shoehorned into those programs. NGBS Green certification was designed for residential buildings ꟷ that is our sole focus and passion. Our laser focus on residential buildings means a better customer experience and an easier “fit” for your building project.
  5. Documentation requirements are sensible and won’t make you pull your hair out.
    NGBS Green verification relies significantly on independent, third-party visual inspection; not paper collection. We want to have a trained and trusted professional see the building is NGBS-compliant. This approach means that no one is spending hours compiling, uploading, and reviewing documents that, in the end, really don’t prove compliance. Another benefit of this approach is that the Verifier is on site to help correct issues before it is too late. For example, Verifiers inspect insulation installation for each home and apartment before the drywall is installed. This means they can have the insulation contractor correct any installation problems before it is too late to remedy.
  6. Verifiers are on your team to serve as coaches, mentors, and building science experts.
    NGBS Green accredited Verifiers are trained to inspect and verify buildings seeking NGBS Green certification. But while they serve as independent third parties, most are active participants on the project team. They provide expert guidance and support throughout the entire process. Equal part cheerleader, mentor, and building whiz, they help ensure the process is straightforward, streamlined, and successful.
  7. The certification process is simple.
    A simple process does not equate to simple certification compliance. The NGBS Green certification process is designed to reduce the resistance likely to originate from investors, subs, and other stakeholders. The Verifier will handle most of the process requirements. Builders and developers must sign a one-time client agreement with Home Innovation and provide proof of applicable/sufficient insurance. Then, for each building seeking certification, the Verifier must submit one rough verification report and one final. Multiple buildings can be batched for a more expedited review. Our program expectations are clearly documented in our Builder’s Resource Guide.
  8. Certification fees are affordable.
    High certification costs are a barrier to green building certification. The NGBS Green philosophy is that certification should be affordable for all buildings, not just Class A trophy buildings. Registration is free. Technical assistance, interpretations, and personal, one-on-one assistance when needed, are all free. We even offer volume discounts for large projects. Our certification fees are listed on our website and are per-building, so they are easy to calculate.
  9. NGBS Green certification moves at the speed of business.
    The NGBS Green Team knows the importance of hustle. Our customer promise is a one-business-day turnaround for technical assistance, interpretations, and final review turnaround. This allows single-family builders to provide the NGBS Green certificate to the homebuyer at closing, and multifamily builders to satisfy any requirements for their permanent financing loans, local bond obligations, or marketing purposes. For General Contractors, our speedy turnaround means you get paid faster, without the 4-6 month wait more typical of other green building certification programs.
  10. Nearly six decades of third-party certification and building science expertise backs up each certification.
    Home Innovation has been a third-party testing and certification agency for the housing industry for 56 years. Our mission is to improve the quality, durability, affordability, and environmental performance of homes by removing barriers to innovation. Our experts possess an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience in all facets of market analysis and building science research and testing. Let us put our NGBS Green Team to work for you to meet your green building certification needs!

Questions about NGBS Green? Check out all our available resources. Need further clarification? Contact us.

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