Neutral Third Party Verification of Green Building Standards

With the national growth in interest in green building, inspectors are facing business decisions about whether to become involved, and if so in what way.

The choices range from courses offered for $59, to becoming verified to provide HERs ratings, to other choices in between.

Which course to pursue depends upon which organization winds up writing the accepted National Green Building Standards. At this point, it’s too soon to tell.

The NAHB and the ICC are now at work on what they call the National Green Building Standards. If their Standards become the most widely accepted, there will very likely be a place for home inspectors in providing Neutral Third Party Verification of compliance with the Standards.

If LEED for Homes (US Green Building Council), soon to emerge from the pilot program, becomes the most widely accepted standard as it has for commercial buildings for the federal govt. and many state and local govts., HER’s raters will have tons of work and home inspectors without that training (generally costing $5,000-$7,000 with equipment, training and certification) will miss out.

There are other organization who are players too, like Built Green, ASHRAE and IESNA (lighting engineers) who have a good shot at it. These different organizations have different agendas, with builder-oriented organizations working to keep requirements low (non-mandatory) to protect profits, and organizations at the other end of the spectrum writing standards with sharper teeth to for environmental reasons.

There’s big money at stake, much of it not very apparent at this point. Because we now provide Neutral Third Party Inspection, home inspectors have a good background for Neutral Third Party Verification, not just of green standards, but of green features present in homes. This market would be buyers, one we already serve. Anyone see potential in these places?

Good points Kenton, but this field would require a tremendous amount of studying and dedication on someone’s part to be fluent in it’s meanings, applications, enforcements, and monitoring.
I do not think that the Builders out there are anywheres ready for this Building Green thingy.

I can’t see where it would hurt for any of us to educate ourselfs in relations to LEEDs and Building Green.

I found information pertaining to courses of on line study if anyone is interested.

The Commercial Building I am working on right now is a Green project and I found it very difficult in understanding how the system works.
Everything to dumpsters for wood, metal, drywall, and general debris is counted and monitored for disposals and 75% recycleables needs to be maintained throughout the project in order to get a 1 point credit.
Most of the employees do not have a clue as to what this is about.

In General, I believe we are all on a learning curve with all of this,
but let’s face it, it will be the wave of the future.

So, I believe for new Inspectors of the HI field, it might not be a bad idea to start looking into it.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

What I have in mind doesn’t involve becoming LEED-certified, Marcel, although I believe LEED for homes will be considerably simpler than LEED for commercial buildings or new construction. I doesn’t tak much for an inspector to recognize green freatures like Photovoltaic panels and solar hot water collectors.

Well, that is ok Kenton, can you elaborate on what you mean?

Marcel :slight_smile:

some programs like LEED, have more complicated requirements for certification, but some, like the standards being written by the NAHB with the ICC, are much simpler. Some standards will likely require verification of green features using a checklist.
I think any inspector capable of performing a thorough home inspection to NACHI standards is capable of learning to recognize green features and a little of how they work. It wouldn’t require having to inspect a Photovoltaic system for proper operation, just verify its presence if the paperwork claimed that it was installed onsite.
I should be able to be more specific in a couple of weeks.

Thanks Kenton


Thanks Kenton.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

There is definately a good future if one is LEEDS certified but just getting the certification isn’t going to bring business to your door, you still will have to go out and sell this service, then the fun begins.
There are associations that can help in getting your network underway.

There are lots of builders who are specializing in this area.

As a home inspector this has been my area of focus from the beginning. I have specialized yet. But this has always been the direction I’m heading.

I think it sells itself. Put it on your website and other advertising and consumers who are Green conscious will head to your business over others.

Where you live has a lot to do with it. Classes from EEBA are a good place to start in preparing to take advantage of the opporunities. LEED accreditation is good, but LEED for Homes is still in the pilot program stage and LEED Commercial is a whole different ball game as Marcel pointed out. For home inspectors, I think becoming familiar with energy efficient systems/design and sustainable materials and practices along with understanding the home as a system will open avenues.
Energy rating is going to be in big demand in various places in the not-to-distant future. Too bad it’s so expensive to get training and buy equipment.

From the EPA…

"(Washington, D.C. - July 12, 2007) In 2006, the percentage of newly
constructed single family homes earning the government’s Energy Star for
superior energy efficiency exceeded 12 percent in 15 states. The 15
leading states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware,
Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas,
Utah and Vermont.

“Consumers don’t have to limit their smart energy choices to energy efficient cars and appliances,” said Bob Meyers, EPA’s principal deputy assistant administrator for Air & Radiation. “EPA is pleased to see builders in so many states leading the effort to offer their customers high-efficiency, low-emission choices in new homes.”

Nearly 200,000 new homes nationwide earned the Energy Star in 2006, bringing the total number of Energy Star qualified homes across the
nation to almost 750,000. To date, these homes have locked in annual savings of more than $180 million for homeowners by saving over 1 billion kWh of electricity and 100 million therms of natural gas.

Homes that earn the Energy Star offer homeowners all the features they want in a new home, plus energy-efficiency improvements that deliver better performance, greater comfort, and lower utility bills, all while helping to protect the environment.

To earn the Energy Star, homes must be independently verified as meeting EPA’s strict guidelines for energy efficiency. These homes are least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code, and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20 to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes.

Home energy use accounts for nearly 17 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 21 percent of energy consumption nationwide. For more than a decade, EPA has been working with the housing industry, utilities, states, and independent energy efficiency home ratings professionals to bring increased energy efficiency to the homebuilding industry. Today, more than 3,500 builders are committed to building Energy Star qualified homes. And there are Energy Star
qualified homes in every state across the country."

That’s just ENERGY STAR and doesn’t include homes built to the guidelines put out by the NAHB, Built Green, the small avalanche of Natiohnal Green Building Standards which will be appearing soon and local programs in effect and about to come into effect in various parts of the country.

Check out the ENERGY STAR builder list and you will see big developers starting to build green homes.

India and especially China are building infrastructure like crazy and will be powering the expansion with mostly coal-fired power plants, building an unbelievable number of homes, developing a big new middle class who will be driving cars and greenhouse gases will be a steadily growing concern which, along with rising energy prices and dependence on foriegn oil will continue to fuel the movement toward more energy-efficient homes, both existing and retrofit.