GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
EarthCraft is a regional green building program that addresses the challenging energy, water and climate conditions of the Southeast. By meeting specific guidelines, each certified EarthCraft building or community saves energy and water, meets strict indoor environmental quality standards and protects our land and natural resources. EarthCraft was developed in 1999 as a partnership between the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and Southface. By lowering energy costs 28 percent on average when compared to the typical new home, all EarthCraft House homes qualify as ENERGY STAR® New Homes. EarthCraft also includes other programs including EarthCraft Renovation, EarthCraft Communities, EarthCraft Multifamily and EarthCraft Light Commercial.
Developed by USGBC, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in nine key areas: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Locations and Linkages, Awareness and Education, Innovation in Design and Regional Priority. LEED projects go through a multipart third-party inspection process that ensures optimal performance and energy savings. Southface is a LEED for Homes provider and can help administer LEED projects.
ENERGY STAR, a national program from the U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE, offers a comprehensive approach for new and existing homes and commercial buildings that reduce energy costs, while creating a more comfortable, healthier building. ENERGY STAR qualified new homes are at least 15% more efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and they include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes. Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is a related program that helps homeowners save energy while improving the comfort and health of their existing homes. Commercial buildings qualify as ENERGY STAR after demonstrating that they are as energy-efficient as the top 25% of comparable facilities. A residential or commercial building design can earn the Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR qualification by making informed decisions about energy efficiency during the design process.
The Building America Builders Challenge is a voluntary program from the Department of Energy intended for builders constructing homes with a focus on energy efficiency. The Builders Challenge provides participating homebuilders with an easy way to differentiate their exceptionally efficient homes from other homes in the marketplace, and to make the benefits clear to buyers. A Builders Challenge home must perform 30% better than a code-built home. In addition, a home must meet the Builders Challenge Quality Criteria, which provides best practice guidelines for durability, comfort and indoor air quality.
The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) developed both the ANSI- approved 2008 National Green Building Standard and the NAHB Model Green Homebuilding Guidelines. Both give builders guidance on green home building, referencing lot design, resource efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, homeowner education and global impact. To receive certification, a builder must incorporate a minimum number of these features.
Environments for Living is a green building program developed by Masco Contractor Services, a building products and services company. Based on the principles of building science, the program provides residential builders with clearly defined requirements, along with the tools and assistance they need to create a more sustainable building. The program focuses on energy efficiency, durability, indoor environmental quality and water efficiency.
Green Communities provides funding and guidance to affordable housing developers to build and rehabilitate homes that are healthier, more energy-efficient and better for the environment. Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that focuses on community development and affordable housing, sponsors the program. The Green Communities Green Criteria contains detailed information that addresses aspects of design, development and operations such as integrated design, site, location and neighborhood fabric, site improvements, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials beneficial to the environment, healthy living environments, and operations and maintenance.
The NC HealthyBuilt Homes Program provides a certificate for homes meeting the "green home guidelines" and built by residential builders who practice sustainable, high-performance building strategies, making the home a comfortable, healthy and affordable place that reduces energy and water usage, promotes renewable energy use and helps protect the land where the home is built. The program is administered by the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University.
The Florida Green Building Coalition offers green building standards for commercial buildings, community developments, residential high rises, homes and local governments.
The EPA created Indoor airPLUS to help consumers identify homes that have good indoor air quality, a distinction that is especially useful for individuals with asthma, allergies and other breathing issues. Indoor airPLUS qualified homes have features that protect homes from moisture, mold, combustion gases and other pollutants.
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the EPA, is intended to save water and protect the environment. The WaterSense New Home Certification System is designed to recognize new single-family homes that comply with the program specifications for high-performance, water-efficient systems.