Home Innovation Insights

Insider insights on what's going on in the home building industry.

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November 20, 2020

Voice of the Verifier: Amy Otley, NGBS Green Verifier

We are debuting a new opportunity for Verifiers – come takeover the Home Innovation Insights blog! Every few weeks we are going to allow a green blog media takeover and grant posting privileges to a Verifier influencer with green expertise to share.

Our first takeover-er is Amy Otley from TexEnergy Solutions/US Eco Logic. Read on to see what Amy has to say.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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November 9, 2020

Sun-sational, Sustainable Design in the Tropical Zone

Climate change and its effects are accelerating. Consequently, communities are suffering from more frequent and higher intensity climate-related disasters – from hurricanes to wildfires to flooding. With each new event, we have an opportunity to reconsider how we repair and rebuild disaster-damaged homes and how we design and build new homes.

Enhanced resilience is an essential part of any comprehensive green building certification. A green building standard like the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 (NGBS) is designed to eliminate or reduce the environmental impacts of the homes we build (or rebuild), and also includes practices to help homes better withstand future disasters.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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October 27, 2020

Seasons of Green

This month we celebrate another NGBS Green milestone with the certification of our 250,000th NGBS Green Home. When we started the NGBS Green certification program in 2009, our goal was to provide a national, credible, rigorous, and affordable green building certification for the residential construction industry. Until NGBS Green started, residential building certifications lagged significantly behind other building types. The places we lived – our homes, townhouses, multifamily buildings, housing for students and seniors, and assisted living facilities – were foregoing high-performance green building programs because they were too difficult and expensive to attain. We had the audacity to believe that needed to change – and understood the role we could play in helping our entire industry do better. Better for the environment. Better for climate change. Better for homebuyers and renters.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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October 14, 2020

Being Green Just Got a Heck of a Lot Easier

With the 2020 NGBS, single-family homes can earn the NGBS Green Certified level if they comply with all applicable green practices from the 2020 NGBS Chapter 12. This streamlined yet rigorous certification path requires homes to be designed and constructed to be more efficient than 2018 IECC code-compliant homes and to include important building practices that ensure the home provides a healthier indoor environment, is more water efficient, and is more durable. The NGBS Chapter 12 Certified Path focuses on the most impactful practices that improve energy and water efficiency, create a healthier living space, and manage potential moisture issues. For energy efficiency, builders have a choice among Prescriptive, Performance, and Energy Rating Index (ERI) paths. For water efficiency, builders have a choice between Prescriptive and Performance paths. This certification option is more streamlined and, to keep verification costs lower, NGBS Green Verifiers can batch multiple homes for both registration and verification report submittal. Find out more about this option.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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October 7, 2020

Is Wellness the New Energy Efficiency?

Energy-efficient home builders report that their homes sell faster, for more money, and perhaps more importantly, that their buyers are more satisfied with their energy-efficient home than with their former inefficient homes. Win-win-win. Builders are rewarded for their energy-efficient homes, the environment benefits from homes that require fewer nonrenewable resources, and homebuyers get a more high-performing home. But, is an energy-efficient home the golden ticket for builders? Unfortunately, no. Energy codes are becoming more stringent, so now, depending on a home’s location, even code-minimum homes can be relatively energy efficient. That makes energy performance less of a distinction among builders. Now may be the perfect time to consider emphasizing the health & wellness features of your green homes over their energy efficiency.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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September 30, 2020

What’s in a Name? Defining “Residential” in NGBS Terms

When first approved by ANSI in 2009, the NGBS was notable because it was the first national green building rating system specifically designed for residential buildings. Before the NGBS, national programs such as LEED and Green Globes were designed to address the specifics of commercial buildings. Consequently, only a few multifamily buildings in the pre-NGBS days tried to adapt to the compliance requirements of the early green certification options. But even the first few iterations of the NGBS did not cover all types of residential construction. The 2020 NGBS Consensus Committee sought to remedy this issue by revising the NGBS’s definition of residential. Now the NGBS is inclusive of all buildings within which we live during the various stages and phases of our lives. Find out more about the new opportunities now available to multifamily and mixed-use builders and developers.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Building Products, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Marketing

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September 23, 2020

Smart Products Are Green Products

Today, it can seem impossible to find a new appliance that isn’t a “smart” product. I recently purchased a new washer and dryer set, and I noted so many models with mobile and voice notification and control. Some products even featured automatic reordering of detergents and softeners based on sensor feedback!

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Building Codes, Building Products, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Green Building, Marketing

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September 17, 2020

NGBS Version Aversion? How to Pick the Right NGBS Version for Your Project

In early 2020, ANSI approved the fourth version of the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 (NGBS) as an American National Standard. Now, builders and developers have a choice to seek NGBS Green certification based on either the 2015 NGBS or the 2020 NGBS. Which is the best version for your project and your market? Some may presume that compliance with the 2015 NGBS would be less challenging and/or less expensive to achieve compliance. But, don’t be so quick to dismiss the 2020 as a more beneficial option. The 2020 NGBS Consensus Committee made several important improvements that warrant strong consideration before embarking on your next green building project. Check out this post on some factors to consider as you make the decision.

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July 16, 2020

A Q&A With Our Newest P.E.!

As you may have seen in our recent news announcement, Home Innovation recently celebrated the licensure of Nay B. Shah as one of Maryland’s and Home Innovation’s most recent Professional Engineers. Home Innovation is known for conducting cutting-edge building science research, green building certification, laboratory testing, and market assessments. As part of this culture, we highly encourage and support the licensure of all of our engineers. We believe it not only adds value to our clients and our work, but is an important step in the career progression of our engineers.

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March 20, 2020

COVID-19 Update for Current & Prospective Laboratory Testing Clients

We understand the concern and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and want you to know that the entire Home Innovation team is committed to being responsive to the needs of our clients as the situation evolves. At Home Innovation Research Labs, the health and safety of our clients and our employees is our number one priority. As such, we are taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of our staff, while also remaining open for business to provide full business continuity for all of your testing and code compliance needs.

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Product Testing, Building Products, Building Codes, Building Practices

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October 12, 2018

It’ll Cost You! Where Codes Meet Costs

There are lots of passionate individuals and companies in our industry who are working to bring about positive change. Whether developing a new product, testing a new construction technique/method, introducing a new building code provision, or advocating for a new industry policy, cost is always a factor that needs to be considered on the road to innovation. Cost can be the factor that stops a great idea from going forward.

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April 19, 2018

Hot or Not: How's Your Product's Thermal Performance?

With increasingly stringent energy codes, building product manufacturers are developing new products and innovative construction techniques to improve the thermal envelope. Code officials, builders, and architects want reliable thermal conductivity data. But, without testing, you can't know the U-value of the assembled component. Hot Box testing is a reliable way to capture shareable, marketable data that is far superior to modeled performance.

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Product Testing, Building Products, Building Codes, Building Practices

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April 2, 2018

Product Certification: Are You Ready for the Challenge?

For many smaller building product manufacturers, simply following best practices and common sense may work most of the time. But, for those looking to grow market share and compete on a regional or national level, that may not be enough. Having a formal quality assurance (QA) system is often the next step in your company's journey to market growth and success; and it is a must for getting your product certified as code compliant.

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February 9, 2018

Are Your Plumbing Products Designed for Reliability?

Today’s customers, both building professionals and homeowners, have increased their expectations of manufacturers for high quality, reliable products. Product testing identifies problems encountered during construction or service life due to poor durability, strength, or performance. Increase the quality and reliability of your products by detecting failures, pinpointing probable deficiencies, and confirming your product will maintain performance throughout its lifecycle.

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January 30, 2018

Don’t Let Water Infiltration Rain on Your Product’s Parade!

In our wind-blown rain and air infiltration chamber we huff and puff and see what it takes to blow water into even the tiniest entry points of a home's exterior envelope. Would your products pass our rigorous testing?

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Product Testing, Building Products, Building Codes, Building Practices

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January 27, 2017

SolSmart Serves Up Soft Cost Savings

Soft costs can often be a deal-breaker for solar installation. DOE's SolSmart is helping builders and developers overcome barriers to solar in residential construction that can often come from arduous local zoning, permitting, and inspection requirements. Find out more about the program and how it can help in your community.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Solar Energy, Energy Performance, Building Codes

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August 15, 2016

Streamlined Permitting for PV? Yes, Please!

DOE's SolSmart is helping builders and developers overcome the barriers to solar in residential construction that can often come from arduous local zoning, permitting, and inspection requirements. Find out more about this new program and how it can help in your community.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Solar Energy, Energy Performance, Building Codes

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May 1, 2015

An NGBS Retrospective: 50,000 NGBS Green Certified Homes

With the 50,000th NGBS Green Certified home in our very recent past, it seemed like a perfect time to look back on what a game-changer the NGBS rating system has been to the home building industry, and celebrate the achievements of our dedicated NGBS Green Partners who have sought third-party green home certification.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Homebuyer Preferences, Marketing

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February 12, 2015

Don’t Go It Alone: Verifiers Can Help Avoid Scheduling Issues, Costly Damages

One of the most important aspects of multifamily construction is scheduling. If done properly, it can save the owner and the general contractor a lot of time, money, and frustration. But all too often, this process is not monitored closely enough. In large multi-million-dollar projects, the smallest mistakes in construction sequencing can be devastating to the project by causing costly delays, damages, and legal actions. NGBS Green Verifiers can help you plan so that a small error in scheduling doesn't result in a major catastrophe in your green building.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Air Sealing Design, Insulation

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December 26, 2014

Delivering Green for Those Defending the Red, White, and Blue

In light of the recent approval by Congress of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and specific recognition of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) in that legislation, Balfour Beatty's Hayley King discusses how the NGBS can work well for military housing and the land on which it’s developed.

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Green Building, Marketing, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Building Products

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September 23, 2014

No Product is an Island

No home is made of just one product. And no one product within a home works without some reliance on one or more other products. Does your product play well with others? Don't be the weakest link in your clients' home systems, or get in your own way on the path to your next innovation. Understand how your product works in relation to a range of connections and assemblies by conducting non-standard testing with Home Innovation Research Labs.

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August 27, 2014

“R” Your Insulation Products Meeting Expectations?

With model building codes ramping up thermal envelope requirements for homes, and homebuyers becoming increasingly concerned (and knowledgeable) about managing their energy bills, both builders and buyers are scrutinizing the performance of the insulative products used in their homes. R-value is the most obvious and universal “proof point” that batt insulation will perform as expected, but how confident can you be that the R-value posted on a label actually reflects how that product will perform? Very confident … as long as the product also carries our Lab Certified mark.

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August 13, 2014

3 Benefits of the ANSI Process for NGBS Development

As the Sustainability Coordinator for Balfour Beatty Communities’ diverse housing portfolio, Hayley King's chief objective is to recommend and execute efficient products and services that reduce our operating costs while increasing the bottom line. Find out why she's found the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) an invaluable resource to accomplish these corporate goals, and why she values the openness, transparency, and diversity of stakeholder input in the development of the 2015 NGBS.

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Green Building, Marketing, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Building Codes, Building Products

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June 27, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Lab Director: Post-Audit Reflection

The phrase, “You’re being audited,” can strike fear into the heart of anyone. I am personally recovering from our latest lab audit, or, more accurately, our latest surveillance assessment. Unlike an IRS audit, however, the audits we undergo as an accredited third party are not at all unpleasant; in fact, they’re very beneficial. But they do take a big commitment of time and energy, and involve a certain amount of stress as our company’s credibility relies heavily on the value imbued by our accreditations. Find out what's involved and how this helps define our culture of accountability.

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June 25, 2014

A 50-Year Legacy of Innovation

Having just marked our 50th year in business last week, it seems like a perfect time to look back on some of the key home building innovations our team has helped to gain acceptance in the mainstream by eliminating barriers to market penetration. While there's probably no one builder who uses all these innovations, I bet most builders use at least one on a regular basis. We're proud of that legacy.

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June 18, 2014

Off the Shelf Green: Don't Reinvent the Wheel

For decades, cities have been grafting green building certifications into commercial building codes, but more and more they're doing likewise with residential building. Rather than invent yet another green code, building departments can benefit from using a proven, off-the-shelf green home building certification that can be implemented quickly and effectively. Plus, homeowners get the added benefit of having a nationally recognized green home certification, adding market value to properties in a sale or refinance.

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May 30, 2014

Conquer Conservative Builder Syndrome: Get Tested!

Product failures happen. Because they do, builders tend to stick with the “tried-and-true” building materials, believing that wise builders don’t get fooled by new product claims. So how do new products break through? Consistently, our research shows the most important factor in a builder’s decision to try a new product is confidence that the manufacturer has done the proper testing and evaluation on the product. Have your products been tested?

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Product Testing, Building Products, Marketing, Building Codes, Energy Performance

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May 28, 2014

Get Help Navigating The ‘Gray Zone’ in Green: Commercial-Grade Residential Construction

Use of the NGBS for multifamily construction has been booming over the past few years, and it's being accepted as the green program of choice at near exponential rates. All NGBS Green Verifiers are trained by Home Innovation to verify all types of green projects, but on-the-ground expertise varies. If you are transitioning from multifamily low- and mid-rise buildings to multifamily high-rise buildings, it's important to work with an NGBS Green Verifier who understands the "gray areas" and differences with this kind of project to maximize the value of your verification.

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Air Sealing Design, Building Codes, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Green Building

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May 22, 2014

Moisture Testing: An Ounce of Prevention, Better Than a Pound of Cure

Energy efficiency requirements in the building codes are becoming more and more stringent. This has lead to the unintended consequence of builders having to contend with and mitigate excess moisture in the homes they build. Making houses tighter with less air infiltration creates positive energy benefits but, unless adequate ventilation is provided in the right way, there can be moisture-related issues like mold growth. Proper moisture testing for building products is crucial to ensure they perform as manufacturers, builders, and homeowners desire.

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May 15, 2014

NGBS Keeps Builders on The Cutting Edge

It's 2014, the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is gaining ground and being accepted in many states, and it is no longer a question of "if" but "when" you will be required to meet a certain building leakage number. So if you're a home builder still asking, “Isn't it better – and greener – to just let my homes 'breathe' naturally rather than sealing them tightly and relying on mechanical ventilation?” you're in for an abrupt and rude awakening when the new code comes to town. Don't wait. The future is now. And certification to the NGBS is your best tool.

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Air Sealing Design, Building Codes, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Green Building, Insulation

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April 7, 2014

It's Gettin' Hot in Here...

Guests who tour Home Innovation Research Labs are impressed with our sizeable Hot Box. Indeed, we have one of the largest in the country. Less brawny, but equally titillating, are our four heat flow meters. This equipment is essential to measure the thermal efficiency of insulation (and a variety of other building products), commonly measured by R-value, a measure of resistance to heat flow. And increasingly, as Professional Builder magazine recently noted, energy efficiency is table stakes for the new market.

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March 20, 2014

Green Homes Are Expected to be Durable (Now Let’s Make Sure)

High-performance homes appeal to consumers because of their touted benefits: a healthier indoor environment, lower operating costs, and increased durability. Certainly, the benefits are compelling. But do we know if high-performance homes can live up to these elevated expectations?

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March 10, 2014

Our Credibility Is Your Currency

There is a common barrier to innovation faced by builders and product manufacturers alike. They may be certain their product or technology is superior, but can they convince relevant decision-makers to change from tried-and-true methodologies and products? The answer is yes – if they have credible and demonstrable proof to back up their claims.

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March 6, 2014

Go forward? It's the only thing to do!

It's a basic rule of business: if you're not moving forward, you get left behind – and the green building market is no exception. With the ink barely dry on the 2012 National Green Building Standard (NGBS), Home Innovation Research Labs is starting the development of the 2015 NGBS. It will take us about two years to fulfill ANSI’s demanding requirements and comprehensive process. That's why it's critical that we start early to have a completed NGBS when the market is ready.

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December 19, 2013

Student Design Teams "Race to Zero" in DOE's Challenge Home Competition

In mid-December, we closed out registration for the DOE Challenge Home Student Design Competition. The response we got from colleges and universities across North America was really inspiring — all told, 32 teams have stepped up to the challenge in DOE's "race to zero" in energy-efficient home designs. Find out more.

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Air Sealing Design, Building Codes, Building Practices, Energy Performance, Green Building, Insulation, Solar Energy

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November 21, 2013

Up Close and Personal with "The Racker"

While its name might conjure up images of a middle ages torture machine or a modern-day MMA move, our "Racker" is actually used to understand the shear wall performance of building assemblies. Find out what makes this custom piece of test equipment particularly well-suited for ensuring structural systems are up to the test.

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October 17, 2013

Not Your Average Product Torture Device: Home Innovation's Large-Scale UTM

Think all Universal Test Machines are the same? Think again. Find out more about our large-scale Southwerk-Emery UTM, one of the workhorse pieces of equipment in our product testing lab.

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September 5, 2013

Putting Cabinets Through Their Paces

Ever sneak a peak at what's inside your neighbor's cabinet? Not to be creepy, just to see if they were KCMA Certified. Let us quell your curiosity by telling you a little more about the third-party product testing we provide to give KCMA confidence in the products that bear their mark.

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July 25, 2013

Look for the Home Innovation Label

As new and improved building products come onto the market, how do you know what's going to stand the test of time? It's easy — just look for the Home Innovation Lab Certified mark.

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May 23, 2013

The Modern Crawlspace: No Rot, Mold, or Bugs About It!

The IRC now has provisions for unvented crawlspaces, which can be practical, energy-efficient options for those building in hot-humid climates. But what's the best way to build these types of crawlspaces? Our new builder resources can help.

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Building Codes, Air Sealing Design, Energy Performance, Green Building, Insulation

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April 5, 2013

2013: A Green Building Odessy

So far this is turning out to be a really transformative year for green home building generally, and the Home Innovation NGBS Green Certification program specifically. Find out why. 

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February 14, 2013

NGBS 2012: What's In It For Consumers?

What does ANSI approval of the 2012 National Green Building Standard mean for home buyers and owners? Plenty ... and good! Find out more about the consumer benefits imbued in the 2012 NGBS. 

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February 7, 2013

Want Product Success? We Can Help

Like seeing your child graduate and walk across the stage, diploma in hand, it's always gratifying for us as researchers to see a building product we tested gain commercial success. Check out this example — we can do the same for you.

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January 31, 2013

How Wet is Too Wet?

It's all relative. That adage certainly holds true when considering moisture content in wood-based building materials. A retrospective on what we've found over the last five years of our investigations on moisture performance of common wall assemblies, and a call for the next round.

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January 24, 2013

Under the Hood: ANSI Standards Development Process

With the January 10th approval of the 2012 National Green Building Standard by ANSI, here's a glimpse into the practice of “due process” – a hallmark of a formal consensus process that sets the NGBS apart.

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Building Codes

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January 11, 2013

Moving to a Higher Green Standard

The 2008 National Green Building Standard has been helping transform the residential construction industry since it was published in January 2009. With the ANSI approval this week of the 2012 version of the NGBS,  I look forward to the even greater transformation to come.

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December 27, 2012

Drop by Drop: Water Infiltration Testing

In our wind-blown rain and air infiltration chamber we huff and puff and see what it takes to blow water into even the tiniest entry points of a home's exterior envelope. Would your products pass our rigorous testing?

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Product Testing, Building Products, Building Codes

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November 22, 2012

'Tis the Season for (Percent Energy) Savings

Visions of holiday savings at the mall may be dancing through the heads of consumers across the country this Thanksgiving weekend, but I've been thinking about percent energy savings instead. What can I say? I'm an energy code geek!

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Energy Performance, Building Codes, Building Practices, Air Sealing Design, Green Building, Insulation

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November 8, 2012

When You're Hot, You're Hot

With thermal performance requirements being ratcheted up throughout the building code, it's more important than ever to get a true sense of how the building envelope performs as a system. The Home Innovation can help with our large-scale hot box.

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Tagged:
Energy Performance, Product Testing, Building Products, Building Codes, Insulation

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October 11, 2012

It's Hip to be Square Footage Savvy

The Home Innovation Research Labs recently ushered the ANSI square footage standard through a regular review and updating process. Are you confident in your ability to assess square footage? This standard can be a huge benefit.

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Tagged:
Building Practices, Building Codes

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September 27, 2012

What's New in the 2012 NGBS?

The next version of the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard is soon to make the scene in the home building industry. Find out what has changed from the 2008 version.

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Tagged:
Green Building, Building Codes, Building Practices, Energy Performance

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August 23, 2012

An Open Invitation to the Home Building Industry

Many know Home Innovation Research Labs for our product testing and certification marks, but here are some examples why we’re much more than just a pretty certification label. The invitation is open – get to know us!

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Tagged:
Building Codes, Building Practices, Building Products, Product Testing, Affordable Homes