Home Innovation Insights

One-on-one insights from NGBS Green Verifier Phillip LaRocque.

Michelle Foster
December 11, 2020

Voice of the Verifier: Phillip LaRocque, NGBS Green Verifier

Philip LaRocqueAbout Phil

I have been an NGBS Green Verifier for 10 years. Prior to that, I was the CEO of the New York State Builders Association (NYSBA) for 14 years, and served another 14 years as an executive/lobbyist for the New York State Associated General Contractors (AGC), New York State Building Chapter. While CEO of NYSBA, I operated a related foundation and managed the NY State ENERGY STAR Low-Rise Program under contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). I became a Verifier because I love the dynamic building industry and have developed useful energy efficiency and green building knowledge at both the macro and micro levels.

My company, LaRocque Business Management Services, LLC, provides extensive consulting services in the areas of green building certification, energy efficiency, Net Zero, U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready (DOEZER), solar advisement, identification and qualification for energy and green program incentives, and diagnostic/testing services such as blower door tests, duct leakage testing, air flow testing, smoke and infrared camera work and more. We provide input during project planning and design phases to maximize the opportunity for project success. Additionally, we offer our clients training classes on marketing green and energy-efficient projects.

Below are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about building green.


Q: Why do I recommend NGBS Green for my clients’ projects?

A: This disciplined, independent third-party certification is extremely valuable to the home or apartment building owner. NGBS Green is the leading green building certification program with over 260,000 housing units now certified, both single- and multifamily. For builders, this certification provides a third-party quality assurance that can mitigate against many code, callback, and warranty challenges down the road. Builders invest a relatively small amount in the NGBS Green program up front, so their return on investment is the savings from costly building issues post-construction. Not only does the certification provide value for the quality assurance it provides, but the certification also establishes an unequalled market distinction in a very competitive housing market. Further, there are financial incentives for the builder/developer and homeowners, depending on the type of building certification and its location.

Q: When do I recommend clients engage a green Verifier?

A: NOT AT DRYWALL TIME! All joking aside, the optimum time to engage a Verifier is during the planning phase, or design phase at the latest. While you can retain a Verifier as late as the foundation or even framing stage, engaging a Verifier must be done prior to the time for a rough inspection (post-insulation, pre-drywall) to meet the first verification inspection requirement and to have a completed NGBS Green Design Report/Scoring Tool to work with as the benchmark for the inspections.

Q: How do I make sure the project team understands what is required?

A: Once under contract with the builder/developer, I provide various checklists for start-of-project items and items that need to be completed at rough and final inspection. I then identify the roles for each project stakeholder relating to NGBS Green compliance and success. I recommend clients create a stakeholder project team (builder/developer, project managers, key trade contractors/suppliers) and schedule virtual or face-to-face meetings to walk through the plans and specifications and discuss how they need to be coordinated and identified with the NGBS Green design report to be drafted. Once the project team is assembled, I schedule a detailed walk-through of the verification and certification process from project planning to final inspection. My goal is that everyone on the project team clearly understands the process and what is expected from each team member to ensure a smooth, successful certification process.

Q: What does the Verifier do behind the scenes?

A: Most of my Verifier work is behind the scenes. Typically, I will have an extensive “sit-down” with the builder/developer during the development of the NGBS Green Design Report/Scoring Tool to identify which NGBS Green practices they will incorporate into the building. I will work with the team to identify hard and soft costs for NGBS Green certification, depending on the project’s initial plans and specs. Based on my extensive verification experience, I want to make sure the project team has early discussions of typical challenge areas by each NGBS chapter to hone in on those most common certification issues, and to identify the best NGBS practices to pursue in terms of cost and time.

Q: What skills should a client look for in a Verifier?

A:  A successful Verifier should have: thorough knowledge of the energy and building codes in the project’s jurisdiction; a history and commitment to the building industry; solid planning, scheduling, vision, and organizational skill sets; strong written and verbal communication skills, extensive technical experience in energy and green testing/diagnostics; knowledge and ability to assist builders/developers with financial incentives tied to energy efficiency and green building programs at the federal, state, and local levels, and private offerings. In addition, the Verifier must be available to assist or answer questions pretty much round-the-clock. It’s important that the Verifier is able to perform jobsite or classroom training on proper insulation, testing, diagnostics, compliance, and preferably, marketing and selling green certifications; maximizing Verifier value, and creating document libraries for future NGBS Green projects.

Q: How can a project team help the subcontractors be successful?

A: All subcontractors or trade contractors and suppliers should be informed about the project pursuing NGBS Green certification during the bidding process. Bidding documents should integrate NGBS compliance requirements affecting their respective bids. The builder/developer should provide specific expectations and NGBS practices for which the subcontractor is responsible. Key trades and suppliers should be part of the NGBS project stakeholder team and be involved in all relevant meetings of this group.

Q:  What are some other common questions I am asked by prospective client builders/developers when discussing Verifier engagement?

A: Prospective NGBS Green clients typically want to know the scope of services that I can provide to their team as a Verifier. Typical questions include:

  • Do you offer assistance in Chapter 10 Manual Development?
  • Do you offer on-site training with any trades such as proper Grade 1 insulation installation?
  • Do you demonstrate to the builder/developer (or their rep or trade contractors) how the blower door/duct blaster equipment is set up and works?
  • Do you provide classroom training topics such as marketing NGBS Green to homeowners and tenants, the NGBS process, and how to ensure a tight whole building envelope, how to properly ventilate your building?

My business philosophy is to be a comprehensive, one-stop-shop for verification services. Based on my long-term experience as a Verifier, I understand that a building will be able to earn NGBS Green certification more easily and often for less money if the Verifier plays a more robust role beginning at the design process, assisting with subcontractor training, and offering additional value-added services  such as marketing support —rather than simply just inspecting the building for compliance.

Thanks for your insights, Phil! Check back for more “Verifier Takeover” posts in the Home Innovation Insights blog in the coming weeks.


Back to Top

Filed Under:

Add your Comment

All fields marked with * are required