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The Green Built Home Initiative


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.


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