NAHB’s 2008 National Green Building Standard for Residential Design and Construction Gaining Acceptance

Originally Published 2009

By Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq.

Green residential design and construction is quickly finding acceptance in the homebuilding industry. However, defining the amorphous and often interchangeable terms “green” and “sustainable” has frustrated residential developers, architects and builders seeking to address a growing market demand and, in some cases, comply with local building ordinances mandating sustainable residential development. Since green design/construction litigation has not yet achieved sufficient critical mass for attorneys and the insurance industry to provide legally defensible definitions for these terms (though this is fast evolving) . . .  the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has stepped up to address the issue with its recent publication, the 2008 National Green Building Standard.

The 2008 National Green Building Standard was preceded in 2004 by the NAHB’s first green publication – the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, which defined seven aspects of green residential design and development:

  • Lot Preparation and Design
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Efficiency and Conservation
  • Global Impact
  • Occupancy Comfort and Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Home Owner Guidance on How to Optimally Operate and Maintain the House

To further the NAHB’s National Green Building Program goals and to produce a nationally-accepted definition of “green” in the context of residential design and construction, in 2007 the NAHB teamed up with the International Code Council to produce the 2008 National Green Building Standard. The 2008 publication largely follows the NAHB’s 2004 Model Green Building Guidelines, but in addition to other modifications, an “Emerald” category was added to the existing bronze, silver and gold certification system. A full description of the NAHB’s National Green Building Program and the 2004 and 2008 publications can be found at the above-referenced links.

Like the U.S. Green Building Council’s “LEED” and the Green Building Initiative’s “Green Globe” certification programs, the NAHB National Green Building Standard is an attempt to provide objective clarity and fixidity in the flux of a fast-evolving green residential design and construction market. But it’s a temporary measure at best under current market conditions. Will “green” and “sustainable” residential design and construction be as in demand in three, five or ten years from now – or even more so? No one can predict – advocates say growth is assured as market acceptance grows – skeptics say they’ve seen it all before and we’re fast careening toward a “green” bubble.

But in an attempt to divine the near future anyway, it’s worth noting that as of the date of this Law/Ark post, the NAHB’s 2008 National Green Building Standard is in its second printing – since March 2009 – and is temporarily out-of-stock on Amazon. And that’s without yet being available on Kindle.

© Copyright Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq. 2009

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