The importance of LEED and NAHB and green home standards
Adding to the confusion of defining a green home, is the number of green building programs and standards.
When defining a commercial green building, we accept the LEED standard or Green Globes.
For homes, often municipalities and states have a unique green rating system. Usually, the green rating system is orchestrated by the recognized experts. The issue being, what makes an expert? And, who is qualified to write a green rating system for homes?
If green rated homes are going to be successful, they must share a common language. The two most recognized green rating systems are LEED and the National Green Building Standard, verified by the NAHB.
Sometimes, when an agency or homebuilder cannot meet the demands of LEED or the NAHB, they will create their own standard.
For example, Meritage Homes has labeled their version of green homes, stating the homes are Energy Star or better.
Shea Homes at Trilogy, calls their “green” homes Superiorology; they are located 45 miles from downtown Phoenix, yet Shea Homes claim they help reduce the carbon footprint. KB Home has created their version of a green home called, My Home My Earth,
Beazer’s version of a green home is called eSmart, and focuses on energy and water use.
Another Top 10 home builder Ryland, makes no claim of a green home. Kudos to Ryland.
As “green” continues to gain interest, many are jumping on the bandwagon, including big home builders. But, until a builder adopts LEED or NAHB green building standards and certification, then they are only adding to confusion for the consumer.
Ultimately, if we are going to see green be successful in home building policy must set the standards with one or two common rating systems. Most practical, would be the National Green Building Standard which is currently adopted by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This is a big step toward a common language and a single green rating system for homes.
We should commend builders or organizations that create their own green standard for homes, as an effort in building a better home. But, we should also caution against those who are using green as a tool to further sales or jump on the green bandwagon. In other words, a builder who is carving out sub-divisions in locations far from the city center should not be using the word green. Building new homes in areas that require miles to commute, is not green.
The most important step a builder or municipality could make in greening homes would be to adopt a recognized standard such as LEED or the NGBS.