National Green Building Standard Approved for All Residential Construction

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorWashington, D.C.—The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) for all residential construction, which includes apartments, condominiums, land development and single-family homes, as well as remodeling and renovation.This is the first and only consensus-based green building standard for residential properties. A joint effort between the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the National Green Building Standard included input from a number of organizations, including the NMHC (National Multi Housing Council), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.According to Paula Cino, director of energy and environmental policy at NMHC, there was initially a concern that the NGBS would be based solely upon input from the industry. The consensus process, however, ensured that there was public input from a range of stakeholders, including product manufacturers, which Cino believes “provides a certain credibility to the standard.”The NGBS is designed to provide localities an alternative to non-standardized green rating systems, though it is not mandatory. While the industry certainly encourages green building, it does not believe in forcing it upon anyone, Cino tells MHN.The new standard is intended to be a tool for those considering building green and for firms that are looking to bolster their properties, Cino adds. Until now, apartment firms that have built green have had to abide by guidelines designed for either high-rise commercial properties or single-family homes. “This is really the only green criteria that the apartment industry had input into,” Cino asserts. “In other green rating systems, multifamily firms could find a system, but it was broken up through different standards. This puts all multifamily under one program. A lot of green issues have to do with what amounts to occupancy, which is different in offices or single-family homes.”The standard, which will have four levels of compliance—Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald—is based on points in six areas: site sustainability, water conservation, material resource efficiency, energy conservation, indoor air quality and education regarding building maintenance and operation.Because the standard was a joint effort between the ICC and NAHB, it is compatible with existing building codes. This will “eliminate the inconsistencies when builders are trying to follow the green path but be cognizant of building codes,” notes Cino.Part of the ANSI approval process requires that the NGBS be updated on a predetermined schedule, which, Cino notes, is usually every three years. “We liked that because it gave apartment firms a piece of mind that it was paying attention to the latest products and technologies, which is moving very quickly in this area.”Publication of the standard is expected by this spring.