National Green Building Standard Open for Comments

This NGBS-certified home from North Carolina builder Paradise Found Construction was honored with a 2014 NAHB Best in Green award.

This NGBS-certified home from North Carolina builder Paradise Found Construction was honored with a 2014 NAHB Best in Green award.

After months of extensive discussion and review of hundreds of proposals, the Home Innovation Research Labs has released a draft of the 2015 Update of the ICC-ASHRAE 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

The standard offers builders, developers and remodelers points for using the technologies and practices described in six different sections: energy efficiency; water efficiency; resource efficiency; land and site development; indoor environmental quality; and home owner education and maintenance. With nearly 50,000 homes and lots certified, the standard has become the preeminent green rating system in the residential space.

Like the 2012 update, this third version acknowledges the evolving model energy codes as well as the continuing innovation of sustainable and resource-efficient products.

For example, the 2015 draft standard is the first to award points for dynamic glazing: energy-efficient glass that switches between being clear and tinted to control glare and heat gain or loss. This technology only recently has become available for a wider range of residential applications.

“In a lot of ways, the science side is coming more into play. We want science to drive things, and we don’t want to add costs without understanding the scientific value,” said Matt Dobson, vice president of codes and regulatory issues for the Vinyl Siding Institute. Dobson served on the initial 2008 consensus committee as well as the 2012 and 2015.

Also in the draft standard:

  • Home builders can use the HERS Index rating path to earn points in the energy chapter.
  • More ratings points are available for the reuse of materials reclaimed onsite  in new construction.
  • Information on moisture control has been added to the resource efficiency chapter.
  • Additional incentives to builders for conducting more green building education in the home owner maintenance chapter.
  • There is a new provision for plans to assess actual energy and water use on an ongoing basis.

Overall, the new draft standard is much clearer, adds language to make it a smoother “above-code” transition from the International Residential Code and includes more definitions to make it easier to follow, said Consensus Committee Chair Bob Ross, a builder from Austin, Texas.

There are also a number of changes to the remodeling chapter “that make it much more relevant to the remodeling industry,” Ross said, including better definitions, more square footage allowed for attic space renovations, and more clarity on meeting point requirements for additions and remodeled parts of a home, as opposed to a whole-house remodel.

Getting Ready for ANSI

This time around, ASHRAE has partnered with NAHB and the International Code Council (ICC), and ASHRAE, the heating, air-conditioning and ventilation technical education society, has a lot of experience in standards development. Its members ensured that the process followed by the NGBS Consensus Committee dotted all the i’s and crossed every last t, an important consideration when submitting a standard to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for approval.

Home Innovation Research Labs is serving as secretariat, or administrator of the standard development process.

“ANSI rules for standards development provide checks and balances based on the principles of openness, consensus, balance, and due process, lending to the unmatched credibility of the National Green Building Standard in the residential industry,” said Vladimir Kochkin, NGBS secretary and director of applied engineering at Home Innovation.

“The process itself is great,” said Dobson. “The result is a true consensus body of builders, material interests, government, regulators – you’re getting a mixture of interests to make the best product available, which you don’t have in those forums that aren’t ANSI-accredited.”

Comments are due on April 20 and should be submitted using this form.

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