The Nuts & Bolts of Decatur’s High Performing Building Standard

Green Building


In 2015, the City of Decatur passed a unified development ordinance (UDO) requiring all new residential and commercial construction to be “green certified.” Known as Decatur’s High Performance Building Standard, the regulation aims to move the City of Decatur towards a more sustainable future, focusing on high quality, high performing buildings and wellbeing for residents.

Over the past several years, green certification programs like EarthCraft have taken a holistic approach to green building, high performance, and sustainability. While its commitment to minimizing environmental impact is unwavering, green certification programs have taken a much more active role in its focus on occupant health and wellbeing. It is estimated that humans spend 90 percent of the day indoors, so it should come as no surprise that an emphasis on promoting health in these spaces has become paramount.

Programs like EarthCraft outline requirements for construction practices and materials that help enhance indoor health and air quality, ensuring that building components contain low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other harmful chemicals. Effective ventilation strategies are also outlined to ensure fresh air is brought into a building and improve occupant comfort. Green certified homes and offices are often high performing and excel in energy and water efficiency, helping reduce utility bills and total operation costs for property managers and residents.

In early 2017, the City of Decatur’s ordinance was amended to include substantial renovations as a qualifying criteria for certification. According to the City of Decatur, substantial renovations include all projects whose renovation costs are more than 50 percent of the total value of the home, 80 percent of the building envelope has been affected, or 20 percent of the total floor area has increased. Project teams and homeowners can select from several certification programs, including EarthCraft, LEED for Homes and the National Green Building Standard. For a list of eligible green certification programs, click here.

Planning to build or renovate in Decatur? Follow this simple checklist to ensure you meet certification:

  1. Pick a program
  2. Schedule pre-application meeting with City of Decatur
  3. Contract with a builder/verifier
  4. Contractor/Verifier plans out path to certification
  5. Permits is issued once path to certification/compliance has been chosen and required documentation has been submitted to City of Decatur
  6. Contractor/Verifier reviews project during construction to ensure certification
  7. Project is certified. Certificate of Occupancy issued once project provides documentation.

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