In our continuing series about certified green homes, I wanted to talk more about what is involved in the green home certification process. This post will cover the first 3 steps toward becoming a certified green home.
The process of building (or renovating) a certified green home begins right from the start. While each program has specific guidelines, they follow a similar progression toward certifying a green home project.
Choose A Green Home Certification Program
There are two nationally recognized green home certification programs in the U.S. They are the National Green Building Certification Program from Home Innovations NGBS (formerly known as NAHB Research Center) and USGBC’s LEED for Homes Program. Both provide stringent standards and practices to follow for certifying a green home building (or renovation) project and offer resources to help complete the green home certification process. Other national, regional and local programs are also available. Some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a program:
– costs and resources for the green home certification process, including inspections and needed documentation
– availability of professionals to support the green home certification process
– the architect and/or builder you select may offer input on which program they prefer working with.
Select A Green Home Builder and/or Consultant
As you begin the journey of building your green home, the team you choose to work with will be key. While we expect to work with an architect and a builder (or remodeler), for a green home project, you will want to ensure one of these team members has a strong background in green building or add a green consultant to the team. Professional certification directories for Certified Green Professional (NAHB) and LEED Accredited Professional (USGBC) can help to identify and locate professionals in your area.
Project Goal and Initial Scoring Run Through
Once your team is in place and a program has been selected, you and the team will discuss your overall goals for your new home. As with any building project, it is important that all members of the team “be on the same page” but with the extra importance of quality control and selections in green building, it is critical that all team members are always working from the plan. In addition to the design goals for your green home, you may want to consider performance goals (energy and water use), types of systems, desired certification level, and of course budget. As with most projects, there will likely be trade-offs between desired outcomes and budget. Building a prioritized list of goals and features will help to work through these trade-offs.
Your design and build team may go through a checklist with you to understand your goals in each focus area of green homes: lot and site; efficiencies in energy, water and resources; and indoor air quality. They may also use the homeowner documentation and education to help keep you in the loop and up to date on information about the components of your home. Once you have completed the goals and outcomes, your design and build team will “score” your project using tools for the green certification program you have chosen. This initial score will give you a target to compare with your budget. As you adjust the plans to meet your goals and budget, the tool used to score your project will need to be adjusted to reflect the changes. There will be also be some mandatory items to consider.
The outcome of this step is an agreed-upon design and green plan for your project. Getting the subcontractors on board at this time is usual too.
Check back next week to learn more about the steps of green home certification.