Monday, July 2, 2007

Proliferation of Standards

To date, the "platinum" standard for evaluating green construction has been the LEED performance rating system propogated by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). (NOTE: I highly recommend the USGBC website, and the Delaware Valley local chapter However, there are a two standards available in draft form (and available for public comment) which add
new dimensions to the Green Building standard arena.

Of interest are two standards being developed by heavy hitters in the code world--ASHRAE Proposed Standard For The Design Of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings (available at, and the International Code Council/National Association Of Home Builders National Green Building Standard (available at

The ASHRAE standard is very similar to LEED, and was developed in conjunction with USGBC. The big distinction with the ASHRAE standard is that it is written for inclusion in municipal building codes, and includes a greater degree of detail and specificity than the LEED rating system.

The ICC/NAHB standard provides criteria for rating the environmental performance of
residential construction practices. Like the LEED standard, it allocates points towards a level--bronze, silver or gold--and provide criteria for earning the points.

I think that teaming with ASHRAE for the building code standard is a good pairing. Many of the LEED points already referenced ASHRAE standards to demonstrate compliance. In addition, to the extent that the slightly vague and amorphous LEED points can be honed to more specific requirements, it will be easier for local governments to adopt.

As for the ICC/NAHB standard, it appears to compete with the USGBC's LEED for Homes, which is currently in pilot version. It will be an interesting test case to see if the USGBC can retain its premier status as the regulator of green building, or whether other standards will become relevant for different kinds of construction.

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