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 In this section:
- What is Green Building?
- What do Green Building Certification Programs Do?
- Why Should I Certify my Home?
- Green Certification Programs
Related:
- Find a Member
- Certified Green Homes
- Certified High Performance (CHiP) Home Program
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CHiP Builder/Verifier Tool Excel Spreadsheet.  Right-click the link and select "Save Target As..." to save this to your computer.
Green Building Certification Program Comparison (Excel Spreadsheet)
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What is Green Building?   

The term green building is used to describe design and construction of homes and communities with some or all of the following characteristics:
 - Have minimal adverse impacts on local, regional, and even global ecosystems;
 - Are energy-efficient in their operation;
 - Conserve water;
 - Built in an environmentally responsible manner from low-environmental-impact materials
 - Are durable and can be maintained with minimal environmental impact;
 - Help their occupants practice environmentalism, e.g. by recycling waste; and
 - Are comfortable, safe, and healthy for their occupants. 
Consensus as to what is “Green” or green enough isn’t universal.  In reality, green building is driven by science not ideology and must result in the construction and reconstruction of our built environment in harmony with the planet’s ecosystems such that we live within the limitations of those natural resources and pass on sufficient resources to future generations.  Driven to the absolute by science, the language above would change from “design and construction of homes and communities with some or all of the following characteristics” to “design and construction of homes and communities with all of the following characteristics.”  While all the tools and techniques needed to do this exist today, a huge educational challenge must be met to get these tools and techniques into use to accomplish this reconfiguration and reinvestment in our built environment.
Studies show great interest in green building but significant confusion as to what it entails.  In too many cases this confusion and accompanying assumptions that green building requires all of the characteristics described previously (and is thus too expensive), actually impede adoption and incorporation of important and feasible advancements toward sustainability.
Debates exist as to whether to label only homes and buildings green when they include all of the previously described characteristics or whether we will move our society farther, faster through applying this label to homes, including some or most of the green building characteristics above.
What do Green Building Certification Programs Do?
Green building certification programs exist to promote sustainable practices and changes to our built environment that bring our buildings into and/or closer into balance with the limits of our natural resources and planet’s ecosystems.  In general, certification programs do this through:
- Education for consumers and builders about green design and building practices.
- Structured checklists and scoring systems identifying required green building features and techniques, conveying the relative value of various optional approaches available, and ranking the accomplishments achieved by a given project.
- Third party verification of the details of construction.  This function (dependent on the level of inspection and verification detail involved) provides assurance that claims that a home or building is green are reliable.  Verification of such claims is provided by trained and accredited persons knowledgeable about green labeling criteria, who have no significant economic interest in the sale of a labeled structure, and who have a significant interest in ensuring the veracity of the green label to be awarded.
- Green labeling/certification used for marketing or demonstration purposes and for verification of a structure’s increased market and societal value.
- Marketing of their green label, certification, or brand to build awareness, brand value, and promote (within the building market/industry) transformation to sustainable building practice as standard practice.
Why Should I Certify My Home?
The answer to this question varies from person to person.
Most people, whether they are building professionals or owners involved in the construction of a new home, use green building certification programs for help in the design process to ensure that they are considering and incorporating all the green design and building principles appropriate to their home.
Some, whether occupants or building professionals, are clearly looking for scientific testing and an independent, third-party verification that their home is achieving green standards.
Some seek certification as they believe it will be of value economically through reduced operations and maintenance costs and/or because a healthier indoor environment should translate to better health.
Many feel that incorporating green building practices are important to the health of our planet and to future generations.
Green building certification program providers all seek to promulgate standards they believe will ensure achievement of at least a minimum acceptable level of movement toward sustainable building practice and hopefully much more.  They also seek to ensure that this minimum level is high enough to be meaningful and avoid criticism as “Greenwashing,” the unscrupulous use of the term “green” for marketing purposes.
Green Certification Programs
A few different organizations certify green homes in our area.  Each of these different certifying programs has established ways to build and verify green buildings.  While each program approaches the process of green building and certifying a little differently, they all subscribe to the tenants of green building and are working toward more sustainable buildings and communities for the common good.
  Green Home Certification Programs:  (Program Name/Managed By)
    Certified High Performance Home Program Green Building Council of Greater Columbia
    LEED for Homes (LEED-H) U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
    NAHB Green National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center
     - Follow the links to learn more about each program
Program Comparison
    Stan O'Brien of Paradime Construction, Inc. put together a comparison of some popular Green Building Certification programs for the council.  This presentation was initially offered in July 2010 at a GBC Quarterly Meeting.
  Green Building Certification Program Comparison (Excel Spreadsheet)  <- Right-click, choose "Save File As..." and save to your computer for viewing
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