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
- Energy- efficiency
- Indoor Air Quality
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
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
- 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_
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
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. Find more information at 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.