is Green Building?
term green building is used to describe design and
construction of homes and communities with some or all of the
Have minimal adverse impacts on local, regional, and even
Are energy-efficient in their operation;
Built in an environmentally responsible manner from
Are durable and can be maintained with minimal environmental
Help their occupants practice environmentalism, e.g. by
recycling waste; and
Are comfortable, safe, and healthy for their occupants.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
do Green Building Certification Programs Do?
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
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.
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
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.
Should I Certify My Home?
answer to this question varies from person to person.
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
whether occupants or building professionals, are clearly
looking for scientific testing and an independent, third-party
verification that their home is achieving green standards.
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.
feel that incorporating green building practices are important
to the health of our planet and to future generations.
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
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
Green Home Certification Programs:
Certified High Performance Home Program
Building Council of Greater Columbia
for Homes (LEED-H) U.S.
Green Building Council (USGBC)
Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center
- Follow the links to learn more about each program
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.
Building Certification Program Comparison
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