Off-the-Shelf – LEED & National Green Building Standard as Residential Building Code

Cities grafting green-building certifications like LEED into commercial building codes is nothing new, and a number of places like Dallas, Atlanta, Boston and Scottsdale have had such requirements in place for a decade or more.

 

What’s happening now is that cities are doing likewise with residential building, and one affluent enclave close to Denver is even rebating a portion of building permits for owners and builders achieving certification.

 

There are a number of benefits to using an off-the-shelf green-building certification.  Rather than invent yet another green code, building departments can grab a proven certification and implement it quickly. The City of Longmont, Colo. (near Boulder), required the 2008 version of the National Green Building Standard for all new residential construction greater than 800 square feet. The current version of NGBS (2012) is arguably harder to achieve, and it’s unclear whether the city will continue to require the new-and-improved version next year or not.  Still, anyone building new residential construction there not only gets a certificate of occupancy (CO) at completion but a nationally recognized green-building cert, which can add market value to properties in a sale or refinance.[i]

 

For brave cities and counties that have forged their own green-building codes, using known certifications can provide an easier alternative to knock out a lot of their green requirements – things like construction waste diversion, insulation levels, and efficiency of appliances, mechanical systems, and lighting.

 

Boulder’s “Green Points” super-code is essentially straight out of the LEED for Homes playbook.  (Did code officials literally sit down with the LEED book in creating their “Green Points” program?   I estimate 85 percent or more of the points are identical.)

 

If a builder chooses to go the LEED route, they still have to mitigate construction waste (which also adds LEED points) and meet certain HERS rating requirements.  HERS ratings are the “miles-per-gallon” number for homes that undergirds most green-home certs like LEED and NGBS.  In 2013, 50 percent of ALL new construction nationwide had them.[ii]   Driving HERS ratings DOWN also adds points in a LEED tally.   Like in Longmont, Boulder homeowners get both a CO and LEED certification when the home passes final inspection.

 

The City of Cherry Hills Village is an anomaly.  A super-affluent suburb south of Denver, the six-and-a-half-square-mile city has approximately 2,000 single- and multi-family homes. The mean house price there (2011) is $1 million-plus. And of the 14 single-family, new construction building permits issued in 2012, the average permit price was $1.5 million.[iii]

Perhaps wanting to promote a more environmentally friendly building model, the Cherry Hills Village city council passed an ordinance in January, offering rebates on building permits for NGBS certification for projects reaching the various levels of certification. Only a handful of other building departments in the country offer any kind of financial incentives for green-built homes.


One (unintended?) consequence of third-party certification is that building departments are effectively outsourcing energy code compliance – the time, expense and liability.  The building departments I work with, though, are inundated now that home building is on the uptick.  This can only help shift the workload of these good people so inspections can clip along.

An additional note - the 2015 version of the residential energy code offers HERS ratings as an alternate compliance path.  'Again a fork in a decision tree between merely getting a CO or a measurement that can raise home value (the HERS index).  Even if owners are planning on staying in their homes forever, the enhanced valuation can help lift them out of private mortgage insurance range (PMI usually less than 20 percent equity in a property) or set up a home equity line of credit.

 

- Melissa Baldridge

 

[i] I’ve written extensively about this on the GreenSpot Real Estate website blog page. CLICK HERE for more information.

[ii] For more information on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), CLICK HERE.

[iii] Data from http://www.city-data.com/ for Cherry Hills Village.

Views: 318

Tags: Baldridge, Building, Green, GreenSpot, LEED, Melissa, NGBS, National, Standard, building, More…code, green, home

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Comment by Brett Little on June 19, 2014 at 8:02am

Melissa - Great post here on codes. It is seems if NGBS has positioned themselves well as the International Green Code (IGCC) is using NGBS as it's baseline. If someone jurisdiction wants to adopt a green code they can adopt IGCC which is really just some version of NGBS. Looks like USGBC is behind that happening as well. 

I get more excited about incentives programs like the City of Cinncianti's LEED tax abatement program which leaves it up to the market to decide. 

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Latest Activity

Profile IconJeffery Liang and Ellen Phillips Soroka joined Home Energy Pros
Friday
Charles Cormany added a discussion to the group Job Board
Thumbnail

Energy Efficiency Incentive Program Manager - Efficiency First California (Berkeley)

Position Title: Program Manager Terms: Full time, available immediatelyAbout Efficiency First…See More
Thursday
Charles Cormany joined Diane Chojnowski's group
Thumbnail

Job Board

This group is for posting jobs related to all aspects of the home performance industry including…See More
Thursday
Linda Wigington liked Home Energy Magazine's blog post Art Rosenfeld's Legacy
Thursday
terry nordbye added a discussion to the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
Thumbnail

Combustion anaylizer Testo 310

This little beauty only has a few hours on it. Almost brand new in box.Sell: $350.Terry 415 669…See More
Thursday
Barbara Smith's video was featured

Indiana HCA...On Location - Celebrating 40 Years of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) interviewed two clients of Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Both homes were weatheriz...
Thursday
Home Energy Magazine's blog post was featured
Wednesday
Profile IconEfficiency First California and Kevin Daly joined Home Energy Pros
Wednesday

Home Energy Pros

Welcome to Home Energy Pros – the unique digital community by and for those who work in the home energy performance arena.

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (supported by the U.S. Department of Energy) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.  Home Energy Pros is sponsored by the Better Buildings Residential Network. Please honor our Guidelines

© 2017   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service