Simply put, green homes are better built homes. Green homes are designed and constructed to be healthier, more comfortable, have lower operating costs, be more durable, require less maintenance, and be part of a sustainable lifestyle. The builder of a green home incorporates advanced building science and products so that the home performs better than a code-minimum home.
The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is the only green building rating system for homes and apartments approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as an American National Standard. The NGBS provides a blueprint for builders to follow for the design and construction of new and renovated single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings.
Development of the NGBS was a multi-year process that involved hundreds of home building experts. Over 2,000 public comments were considered by the development committee. The resulting NGBS provides builders and consumers with a rigorous and credible green home designation.
The NGBS has green building practices in six categories: Lot Development, Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Operation and Maintenance. Some green building practices are mandatory and others are assigned point values. A home or multifamily building can attain one of four performance levels — Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Emerald. For a building to attain any level, all of the applicable mandatory provisions must be correctly implemented. In addition to the mandatory provisions, the NGBS requires the home include sufficient green building practices in each of the six categories to meet the category minimums for each green certification level.
Many builders claim their homes are green. Builders and sales agents may make all sorts of green claims. But without a Home Innovation Research Labs NGBS green certification, you have to take the builder's word that the green features are installed correctly. Independent, third-party certification is your proof that a home or apartment building is, in fact, NGBS compliant.
Every NGBS Green Certified home is inspected in-person at least twice by an experienced NGBS Green Verifier who is an independent inspector from the builder and has been accredited by Home Innovation Research Labs. Before a verifier can award the home points for the green practices claimed by the builder, he or she must visually inspect nearly every one of the green practices, products, and technologies to ensure they are installed correctly. Verifier conduct an inspection of the home before the drywall is installed so they can verify all the green practices, such as insulation installation inside the wall. Then they come back for a final inspections when the home is complete to ensure all the green practices installed after their first inspection are correct. Home Innovation reviews every single verification report to ensure it is complete and accurate before the NGBS certification is issued.
There are some green practices and products that cost more than conventional construction. For example, a higher efficiency HVAC system will typically cost more than a code-minimum system. Properly installed insulation with a high R-value, or superior insulative properties, is more expensive for the builder than cheap, shoddily-installed insulation. Water-efficient appliances and fixtures also can cost more for the builder to purchase and install.
However, these practices and products also can significantly reduce utility bills and be much more cost-effective for homeowners in the mid- and long-term. In addition, for homebuyers, the incremental additional cost typically adds a nominal amount to the monthly mortgage payment given current interest rates, and can easily pay for themselves in just a few years.
Other green practices cost less than conventional practices. For example, builders that use roof trusses or building products that have been painted in the factory, spend less on construction costs. These savings can help offset any additional costs for building a green home.
Of course some green homes, notably those that meet the NGBS Emerald certification level, will likely cost builders more to construct. While not required, these homes and apartment buildings are likely to include innovative technologies such as geothermal heat pumps or photovoltaic systems. These are very high-performance homes and apartments that use very little energy and water compared to code-minimum new homes or older, existing homes.
Buyers and renters that are looking for an NGBS Green Certified home can use the search directories on NGBS.com. Simply select what you want to do -- BUY a single-family green home, RENT a green apartment or condo, or REMODEL the home you're currently in to make it greener -- and you can easily search through photos and listings of the Home Innovation NGBS Green Certified or Home Innovation NGBS Green Registered (i.e., in-progress) homes and multifamily buildings. Homeowners that wish to renovate their existing home can also find a list of remodelers in their state who have successfully renovated and attained certification for previous projects. To ensure you're getting a truly green home, always be sure to look for the Home Innovation NGBS Green marks.
No. Home Innovation Research Labs only certifies green single- and multifamily buildings. We believe that nothing is a substitute for independent, third-party inspections of each practice and product to ensure they are installed correctly. Professional designations help builders and other industry professionals to stay on top of state-of-the-art building science. Only NGBS certification can give you complete confidence that your home or apartment building meets NGBS stringent requirements.
However, if you connect with a builder or remodeler who is a Home Innovation NGBS Green Partner, it means they have a working relationship with Home Innovation Research Labs -- tell them you are interested in finding a better place to call home ... a Home Innovation NGBS Green Certified home.