Certified vs Building Codes?

Certified  vs  Building Codes?

Who’s going to come out the winner with Consumers?

Do you know what a Certified Home is verses a home built just to the Washington State building codes?      Let’s take a quick look:

Building codes exist in each State.  These codes are enforced by Building Inspectors.  Through the course of construction at various stages there are check points (if you’re a Truck Driver, they would be your weigh station along the journey) the Inspector will come out and verify compliance to these standard codes.  In Washington State, our Building codes have been amended numerous times to expand the quality requirements of this highly impactive industry.  The Building Industry has a tremendous impact on our environment, creating more than 136 million tons of waste per year, comprises 40% (3 billion tons) of U.S. raw material usage and its effect on natural resources extraction and pollution is gigantic!  It’s no wonder that the National Home Builders Association is promoting GREEN initiatives to its members as the way of the Future…their involvement in changing the way business is conducted in the building industry is an undeniable reality.  Building codes in States have mostly focused on safety issues.  You’ve probably heard something like, “….that’s a code violation, as it’s unsafe to have a double-tap in the electrical panel.”  The codes typically deal with details for a structurally sound building, fire and safety issues and municipal considerations.

GREEN Home Certifications go beyond requirements for a structurally sound building, fire and safety issues and municipal considerations and extend into its impact before, during and after construction.

Many of you, around my age, will remember the “Good Sense” Home Certification or Label.  I recall walking into open houses with my Mom and would see little promotional table tents around the home with the Good Sense logo.  The reason, at that time, certain Builders built their homes according to this prescription was due to the increase in energy costs during the 1970’s.  These Builders decided that they wanted their homes to be more cost effective for their customers and this certificaiton was one way that they showcased their efforts to Buyers looking to purchase a home.  During the 80’s, 90’s and really up until the last couple of years, building codes have been the dominate Builders guide to the way they could build a home.  Please note:  There have been Builders in every community across our Nation that have built their homes with care and consideration way above the standard codes of the area.  What’s nice about the “New Direction or Path” in the Building Industry as a whole is the recognition that “Stand-out” Homes can achieve by building to prescriptive guidelines, achieved through third party verification.  These Certified Homes take into consideration certainly State and Local Building Codes but extend to impact before, during and after construction.

  • Energy Star Certified, Built GREEN Certified and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified….are Real Property prescriptive guideline programs that a Builder can have their homes qualify for certification by earning points which is verified by a third party. 

>LEED: Sustainable sites, Water efficiency, Energy and atmosphere, Materials and resources, Indoor environment quality, Innovation and design process.  Available certifications:Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum

>Energy Star Certified (recognized for higher energy efficient appliances/products) but also available for homes and commercial buildings.  Certified to be atleast 15% more energy efficient.  Available for homes of three stories or less, including; Single, Attached, Low-rise Multifamily, Manufactured, Modular, Log and Concrete.  Commercial, Industrial and Institutional Buildings.  The program uses a point scale that analyzes energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

>Built GREEN Certified is a checklist that has a bunch of action items with minimum point requirements for each section:  Site and Water, Energy efficiency, Indoor Air Quality and Materials efficiency.

All of these certification point programs are guidelines to a prescriptive building model that help the building industry address its impact before, during and after construction. 

Do you think consumers will like these verified checklists?  How do you think it will benefit them?

I want you to share your thoughts on the subject.  Do you think that consumers will choose a Certified Home over a home built just to code and why??

If you’d rather keep your conversation private, email me @ [email protected]

For more information on the individual certification programs, please visit the following websites:

www.greenbuildingcouncil.com, www.energystar.gov, www.inwbuiltgreen.org, www.sbcc.wa.gov

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