Home Innovation Insights

Understanding the scrutiny and rigor of the NGBS Green Appeals Process.

The Who, What, How, When, and Why of the NGBS Green Appeals Process

November 15, 2021

For more than 10 years, homes and buildings have earned NGBS Green certification as proof that the building was designed and constructed to comply with the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 (NGBS). Certification confers myriad benefits to building owners, some of which are quite substantial. (Residents also benefit from NGBS Green certification, but this post is focused on building owners). 

Specifically, NGBS Green Certified building owners benefit from:

As the NGBS Green independent certification agency, Home Innovation takes the responsibility of granting a green building certification very seriously. NGBS Green certification follows a carefully prescribed process designed to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to the NGBS’s rigorous requirements, and our 100% third-party verification system requires an independent Verifier to schedule multiple inspections to ensure what the architect designs is what gets built.

Why the Need for an Appeal?

Construction can be messy and sometimes, even with the best intentions, the process goes awry. Perhaps the site superintendent forgets to schedule the Verifier’s site visit before the sheetrock contractor hangs drywall in some apartments. Or, maybe the building owner misses a key program deadline. Less common, but also possible, is that an NGBS practice is written unclearly, and real-world compliance is uncertain. The NGBS Green Appeals process can offer administrative relief, or at least consideration of an alternative compliance process, for projects that face such issues.

When Should an Appeal Be Started?

The Appeals process should be initiated as soon as the project team realizes that a building’s certification is in jeopardy because the standard process was not followed or there is another certification blunder identified.

Sooner is always better. The longer construction proceeds and the standard certification process isn’t followed the less likely the building will be able to earn certification.

NGBS Green Appeals are uncommon and, generally, the route of last resort. For most buildings, the standard path to NGBS Green certification is easier, less expensive, and less intrusive. The standard NGBS Green certification path was carefully crafted to integrate seamlessly into the design and construction process. When the process goes awry, the Appeals Process can sometimes set the building back on the certification path, but it is never the preferable way to go.

How is an NGBS Green Appeals Initiated?

There is an additional fee for an NGBS Green Appeal - $1,000 per multifamily building and $500 per single-family home or townhouse. The Appeals fee must be paid before the Appeals Board is convened.

The Builder’s Resource Guide lays out in detail what information should be submitted for consideration by the Appeals Board. In general, the applicant should submit via email an explanation of what action is requested – for example, a waiver of the standard verification process if a rough inspection was missed – and why the appeal should be granted. Once Home Innovation receives this information and the Appeals fee is paid, the Appeals hearing will be scheduled via conference call.

Who Participates in the Appeals Process?

Members of the project team, including the Verifier, are encouraged to participate in the Appeals Board discussion. The NGBS Green Team will have several staff members participate to assist with the process and discussion, but most importantly, there are three voting members on the Appeals Board. The voting members do not work within the NGBS Green program but, instead, hold a corporate responsibility to protect Home Innovation’s nearly 60-year reputation as an accredited third-party test lab and a certification agency.

What Is the Objective of the Appeals Board?

Simply, the Board must be 100% confident that despite any lapse in process, the building is, in fact, NGBS compliant and certifiable. For many buildings, the Appeals discussion will focus on the NGBS mandatory practices, and the Appeals Board will want to hear how the Verifier can be certain the building meets those mandatory requirements. Grade I insulation installation verification is one tricky requirement to verify if drywall is hung in the home or any of the apartments before the Verifier could inspect the installation. While many jurisdictions require Grade I insulation installation, few inspect for it; our experience shows that insulation installation mistakes and/or imprecision is common. The Appeals Board may require drywall to be removed in the presence of a Verifier before allowing a project to proceed with certification. No one likes drywall removal as a solution, which is why strict adherence to the NGBS Green protocol from the start is always a better choice – see above.

Successful project teams must come to the Appeals discussion with clear and compelling proof as to how the building is compliant despite not following standard protocol, or at least be open to discussion as to how compliance can be credibly ascertained. While nice to hear, builder/owner assertions regarding their high quality of construction and exceptional attention to detail are not persuasive. Neither is the promise of compliance by any contractor, subcontractor, or employee, or report that any previous building(s) had earned certification. With NGBS Green certification, each building stands on its own and must demonstrate compliance independent of any others. Previous experience with other green certification programs is also not relevant, nor are professional designations, such as Certified Green Builder or LEED AP.

NGBS Green Sounds Tough! Maybe There Are Easier Options?

There are a lot of promises inherent in the NGBS Green certification program. NGBS Green is an affordable, streamlined, credible, third-party green building certification based on an ANSI-approved national standard. Our process is designed to deliver certification decisions that are impartial, transparent, free from conflict-of-interest, and reliable. The NGBS Green requirements are flexible, while still requiring a rigorous performance threshold. Our team promises to be supportive, responsive, and fair. What we cannot promise is that the program is easy.

If you are looking for shortcuts or workarounds, you will not find them here. And that is a promise you can hold us to.

For more information about NGBS Green Certification, check out the plethora of pages behind HomeInnovation.com/Green. If you’re new to the program or looking for more information about our Appeals Process, be sure to check out the Builder’s Resource Guide (or BRG) as a starting point.