In the state of Washington we have enjoyed a set of very robust and thorough Built Green programs, operated by our local home builders' associations. One of the advantages of these programs is that at the lower levels, builders are able to self-certify, saving valuable Built Green dollars for product instead of expensive third-party certification. At the higher levels, we require the same certification required by the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) National Green Building Standard. Partly because we had a five-year head-start on the NAHB in developing our programs and educating our builders, and partly because our population base is more likely to be in smaller towns and communities, there is no problem with "greenwashing". Members of the local Built Green programs across the State have a very good record of keeping their standards high. Without each of us doing our part for the integrity of our programs, we would not have the acceptance of the public that we have enjoyed over the last ten or twelve years.
Built Green Washington is an organization we set up to oversee and support the eleven different local programs. BGW has developed classes for builders, real estate professionals and appraisers, to help them all understand how to properly represent our products in the marketplace. For more information, visit Built Green Washington.
Another program I like is being run by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center. This national program is based around the National Green Building Standard, the only ANSI recognized green building program. Because it is a national program, their checklist is much simpler than our local Built Green checklists, but it is still very robust, and covers a lot of territory. It requires third-party verification at all levels, however, which can run up the cost of a green project by up to $1,800, depending on how far your green building verifier needs to travel to visit your site. This can be crippling for lower cost projects, especially if they are in a remote area, or if there are not accredited verifiers nearby. Their checklist is available on-line, as a downloadable Excel spreadsheet.
I have used the NAHB program as a guideline to assure that my own projects, and our local program, are in compliance with the Nationally recognized Standard. If you have a local program, and want to use it to save money, try taking advantage of what the NAHB program has to offer, use it as a barometer for each of your projects. Then when you need a higher level of scrutiny for a discerning customer, you will be prepared.
Ted L. Clifton is a designer-builder from Coupeville, Wa., with over 45 years of hands-on experience in the construction industry. His two companies, Zero-Energy Plans LLC, and CVH Inc. have won five Energy Value Housing Awards, and two National Green Building Awards for Concept and Research. Ted has been closely involved with the development of both his local Built Green program and Built Green Washington.