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American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air...
Click 'Standards and Codes' under the Resources and Activities heading. From there, Publication Upda...
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Breaking Down The Barriers: Challenges and Solutio...
Results of a survey of both 'code users' and 'code officials' represents the first comprehensive eff...
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Building Codes, Standards, Guidelines and Rating S...
Provides links to federal and state agencies regarding building codes and links to "Green Building" ...
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Specification of Energy-Efficient Installation and...
This manual is a tool to help achieve energy savings from quality installations of HVAC equipment: p...
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Treated Wood Containing Arsenic : EPA Announces Tr...
Industry has voluntarily agreed to phase out wood treated with chromated copper arsenate, also known...
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Pollution Prevention and Residential Construction- Building Codes and Standards

Resource Efficient
Residential Construction

Building Codes and Standards

Building codes assure that quality and safe construction practices are used when constructing or renovating a building. In recent years, codes have been established to address environmental concerns such as:
  • Energy- efficiency
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Water-efficiency

While these codes have been adopted in some locales, most building construction efforts in these areas are still "beyond code". Builders and homeowners striving for resource efficient construction often apply strategies beyond those outlined in building codes, and oftentimes work closely with building code officials to ensure that these strategies are understood and approved.

Building codes and permits that have been adopted are complex in nature and vary across the country. Many levels can apply including national, state and local. In addition, non-building code but related requirements and permits may apply to projects for handling waste, runoff and pollution.

Many codes do not directly apply to pollution prevention or "green building", however codes can dictate issues such as material selection, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and water/sewer systems. In other cases, building codes directly apply to green building procedures, such as in Washington state where progressive energy and ventilation standards have been included for residential construction. For more information on Washington's program click here http://www.energy.wsu.edu/buildings/.

Applying Codes and Standards

Learning the local, state, and national building regulations is key to a successful building project. The local Home Builders Association can help to get you on the right track for your location. The National Association of Home Builders provides a convenient list of state and local association contacts at http://nahb.know-where.com/nahb/#. Additional on-line research into national models for codes can include the following:
  • International Code Council (ICC) http://www.intlcode.org/ - Formed in cooperation of three nationally significant code professional associations: International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI), and Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA).
  • Model Energy Code (MEC) - The MEC was originally developed jointly under the auspices of the Council of American Building Officials (CABO), Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS), and Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) under a contract funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. For details on the Model Energy Code go to http://www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/codes_standards/buildings/residential_codes_products.html .

Numerous programs also exist to establish standards and voluntary guidelines for builders interested in resource-efficient design and construction. Guidelines and standards cover everything from 'whole system design' and efficient site-use to thermal-, energy-, water- and materials- efficiency, lighting, appliances and ventilation criteria, landscaping and paving.

The following are descriptions of a few national, state and local programs that provide standards and guidelines for green buildings. By no means is this a complete list.

Many "green" building programs offer home certification (or ratings) as well as technical and financial assistance to builders. Certification generally establishes a home as being beyond code, a builder as being proactive, and sets the stage for advanced marketing capabilities. Federal, state, and local governments as well as Home Building Associations, or a combination of organizations, administer certification and ratings programs.

Examples of Rating Programs

EnergyStar is an example of a federal program that provides a label for homes that meet the energy performance standards, typically 30% more energy efficient than standard homes. Builder Option Packages (BOPs) are offered that represent a set of construction specifications for a specific climate zone to assist the builder. Building to these standards enable a home's energy performance to qualify for the Energy Star label. To receive a label for a home, the home must receive third-party verification regarding the home's energy performance or confirmation that BOP standards have been met. EnergyStar has become a nationally recognized standard for many other green building programs. For more information on the labeling process see http://yosemite1.epa.gov/estar/homes.nsf/HomePage?OpenForm. Check out the "Technical Resources" for more on BOPs.

Scottsdale's Green Building Program provides a rating system for environmentally responsible building with a focus on a desert environment. The program encourages healthy, resource- and energy-efficient materials and methods in the design and construction of homes This program offers homeowners a means to judge the environmentally nature of homes. Homes are rated in six areas: site use, building materials, solid waste, energy, indoor air quality and water. Builders score their homes using a checklist of green building options. The program offers plan reviews, workshops and resources, promotional packages and signs to builders while providing inspections to existing homes. Source: http://www.ci.scottsdale.az.us/greenbuilding/Facts.asp .

Built Green Colorado is organized similar to the Scottsdale program, with a checklist of green building options, a builder scores individual homes to receive a BuiltGreen designation. Builders in Colorado first join the program to receive assistance and guidance and an annual award program highlights their achievements. The Home Builders Association of Metro Denver (HBA) administers this program with support from state and local organizations. See http://www.builtgreen.org/ for more information.

Check with the local Home Builders Association to find out about local and state programs providing certification or standards for resource efficient construction in your area.

The Residential Construction Topic Hub was developed by:
Peaks to Prairies
Contact Laura Estes at Peaks with questions or comments:
406-994-3451 or laurae@montana.edu