A couple of years ago, the Metropolitan Builders Association was approached by Green Built Home asking that the association support and promote the new green building program through the Green Built Home Initiative. The goals of the initiative were laudable; however, the program was administratively burdensome and added to the cost of housing.
The GBH coordinators went back to the drawing board after receiving this feedback from builders. They streamlined the program by reducing the amount of paperwork and significantly reducing the cost. More important, they have made the program more flexible by shifting the focus from a laundry list of requirements that must be met to a recognition that there are various ways to approach green building. Because of these improvements, the MBA believes the program is worth another look by home builders.
Let me take a step back and explain the concept. GBH, a voluntary, state-run organization operating out of the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and in conjunction with the Madison Area Builders Association, certifies homes that are built in accordance with standards intended to improve the indoor air quality and energy efficiency of the home. These improvements are meant to make the home safer, healthier, more comfortable and durable. The program also encourages building practices that are above the standards laid out by the state for environmentally responsible building practices.
A checklist of standards
Working together, the builder and customer choose home features from the GBH checklist, made up of standards, each with a point value attached to it. A home must meet some basic requirements and achieve an overall score of 50 points in order to be certified. GBH staff reviews the checklist selections and GBH inspectors conduct random site visits to ensure that the standards have been met. The home is also tested to ensure it either complies with the energy efficiency standards laid out by the Wisconsin Energy Star Home program or that the home operates at an efficiency level 15 percent above what is required by the Uniform Dwelling Code.
There are forms and fees to submit along with the completed checklist and building plans; however, the paperwork has been reduced by 70 percent and the cost has been reduced by at least 33 percent. Furthermore, the updated Web site is easy to use and provides the information and forms necessary for participating in the GBH initiative.
Green building is growing in popularity with consumers. The GBH Initiative lays out a good road map for builders who want to meet customer demand for green building.
On Oct. 22, the Metropolitan Builders Association’s Single Family Builders Council heard a presentation by GBH. The MBA believes the program is at least worth a second look, and I encourage other builders and remodelors to examine the program to see if it is right for you.
If you would like more information about the Green Built Home Initiative, you can contact Nathan Engstrom, program director, at 608-280-0360 or visit www.greenbuilthome.org.
Matt Moroney is executive director of the Metropolitan Builders Association.