Builders Launch Roll-Your-Own Green Certification

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It is official; The National Association of Home Builders have launched their own green building certification system. We griped earlier about it here, suggesting that it was LEED lite and would confuse the public; let's be more positive this time and look at the finished product.

Starting off, it is really LEED ultra-lite; a builder rates his house on the online scoresheet. It is a straightforward system and I can see it being very useful at the design stages, as it is written in comprehensible language that does not need a trained professional to interpret up front. While I wish all houses were designed by architects with LEED credentials they are not, and I might as well face the fact that getting more people building green is better than being pedantic and perhaps elitist. That line in the picture at the top says it all- builders are going to do it their way, so at least get them pointing in the right direction.

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After the builder fills out the form he works with a Verifier, who is accredited by the NAHB. Standards are not quite up to LEED accreditation (one year building experience or a 12 hour course) but there is testing and continuing education. The verifier visits the site at least twice to review progress and check documentation. The final report is sent to the NAHB for certification.

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So it is hard to call it an open third-party verification, since the builders wrote the document, choose the verifiers, and issue the certification. However it is also cheap and easy and accessible, and if builders use it , will they build better, greener houses? Lets look at one category covering house size, a particular interest of ours.

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Instead of just going after the issue of size, they go after efficiency of the plan; a five bedroom house gets a lot more points for being small than it does for being big. Expect to see a lot more five bedroom houses around, but in general points for efficiency is good.

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And they do cover all of the categories.

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As an architect, I think LEED is a great program and wish every builder would use it. As a recovering real estate developer who knows a lot of homebuilders, I know they are not going to spend the time or money on it. While I don't usually like labels without third party verification that are industry written and managed, if the builders, purchasers and municipalities buy into this, we will have better, greener housing. ::NAHB Green Building Program see also Living Home's Steve Glenn debate builder Michael Chander at ::Housingzone.

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