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Green Building - Codes and Standards

Understanding requirements of building codes is an early step in designing and constructing a green building. Going "beyond code" opens opportunities for adding more value to the building. Certification and rating systsems provide credible frameworks and standards to guide developers, architiects and contractors who want to go beyond code.

      Green Building Policy and Standards
      Building Rating Systems - Commercial & Institutional
      Building Rating Systems - Residential
      Green Building Proposal and Contract Language
      Barriers to Green Building Codes and Standards

Questions to Consider


Green Building Policy and Standards

Building Codes Assistance Project
(For State and Local Code Agencies)
The Building Codes Assistance Project provides custom-tailored assistance on building energy code adoption and implementation. It assists state and local regulatory and legislative bodies and helps coordinate others representing environmental interests, consumers, labor, and industry.

Criteria for Energy and Resource Efficient Buildings - Energy Efficient Building Association

Energy Program Building Standards
Washington State has progressive energy and ventilation construction standards. These standards include building codes, which apply to all new and remodeled residential and commercial construction in the state, and voluntary construction standards for manufactured housing.

Revisions to Seattle's Green Building Standards
The City of Seattle requires that project teams participating in LEED™ and BUILT GREEN™ incentive programs conduct a sustainable goal setting meeting no later than the end of the schematic design phase.  The city has also made some adjustments to the incentives to allow projects more flexibility in achieving higher levels of performance throughout design and construction phases.  For information, contact Peter Dobrovolny at

California Energy Commission - Energy Efficiency Standards
These newly adopted standards for energy efficiency in residential and nonresidential building construction are expected to cut the state's peak energy use by more than 180 megawatts annually.

Executive Order 13213: Greening the Government through Efficient Energy Management
(For Federal Agencies)
Applicable to federal facilites, this order includes the Energy Star Building Criteria.

University of California (UC) Green Building Policy And Clean Energy Standard
This new policy calls for UC to adopt energy efficiency and sustainability in capital projects, to the fullest extent possible. The policy mandates reduction in overall energy consumption, renewable energy installations, purchase of a minimum amount of energy come from clean sources, and all new campus buildings (except acute-care facilities) be built to green-building standards.
UC Berkeley News, 23 July 2003, GreenClips.220, and

International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) (For Commercial and Industrial Facility Operators)
Offers standards for measurement and verification of energy and water efficiency projects.

Process Guidelines for High-Performance Buildings
An interactive database of guidelines for high-performance building design, construction, and operation – developed for the State of Florida, usable by anyone.

Cleveland, Ohio - Green Appendix to City Building Code
Cleveland has a "green appendix" to the city's new building codes (which are pending adoption). The green appendix is advisory at this point, but is hoped to eventually become a standard part of the code. The appendix is a a work in progress and open for comments. Cleveland is developing a county "green print" for zoning.

State of Nebraska Executive Orders 98-1 (Renewables) and 98-6 (Efficiency)
(For State Agencies)
Intent of orders is to encourage use of renewable energy and greater energy efficiency, particularly for state facilities.
Contact: Jerry Loos, 402-471-1999

Building Rating Systems - Commercial & Institutional

U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The LEED Green Building Rating SystemTM is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven building rating system based on existing proven technology. It evaluates environmental performance from a "whole building" perspective over a building's life cycle.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)
BREEAM is a widely used international method of assessing building quality and performance in terms of energy efficiency, environmental impact, health and operation and management.

Seattle Sustainable Building Action Plan and Built Smart
(For Multi-Family Projects in the City of Seattle)
The program operates a voluntary rating and green certification system for multi-family projects. One rebate example is that $0.55-0.65 per square foot is paid for meeting insulation requirements.
Contact: Wayne Knipple, 206-684-4286.

Green Building Program - Austin, Texas
The City of Austin has promoted green building through a city resolution adopted in 1994. The program has a residential and a commercial component, which rates the following dwelling features for sustainability: water, energy, materials and solid waste.
Contact: Public Information Office, 512-499-2220, or Publications, 512-499-7827 Efficiency/Programs/Green Building/index.htm

Scottsdale’s Green Building Program - City of Scottsdale, Arizona
Program monitors and scores construction projects for ~150 green measures. This "yes/no" system is an alternative option to a "multi-star" program like Austin.

Green Building Initiative, City of Portland, Oregon
Their "Integrated Building Design" provides actions and opportunities from predesign through operations and maintenance. Their "Green Building Guidelines" provide specific opportunities in building design and construction practices.

Building Rating Systems - Residential

BUILT GREEN™- King and Snohomish Counties (Washington)
(For Puget Sound Homeowners)
An environmental building program designed to help Puget Sound homebuyers find quality, affordable homes that offer opportunities to protect health and the environment. The program provides an easy-to-understand rating system, which quantifies environmentally friendly building practices for remodeling and new home construction.

Built Green - Denver, Colorado
The State of Colorado has funded a comprehensive green building program since early l997, supporting the Denver Metro Homebuilder Association's "Green Built" Program. The program provides substantial public relations, builder training, and a home rating system.
Contact: Tom Brotherton, 303-620-4292 x233

The Green Builder Program - Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico
NASFA, the State of New Mexico, PNM, Fannie Mae, and Owens Corning are program partners in this first environmental building rating system in the state.

Health House Advantage Certification - The American Lung Association
This program is nationally recognized for raising the standards of residential air quality and energy efficiency.

City of Boulder, Green Points Building Program
Promotes sustainable construction for projects not eligible for the Denver Metro Home Builder Association's "Built Green" program. This program is unique, as the only regulated (i.e. non-voluntary) green building program. The program also has a component for remodeling (including small projects), as well as new construction, and it is required and monitored through Building Inspection Services, in contrast to the typical voluntary, "market-driven" rating program.
Contact: 303-441-1880.

Build a Better Kitsap
(For Homes in Kitsap County, Washington)
A network of architects, builders, subcontractors, suppliers and real estate agents working together to provide quality homes that are cost effective to own and operate, protect occupants' health and well being, and help preserve the Northwest environment. Self-certification checklists, budget information and other helpful resources.

Super Good Cents and Natural Choice Homes
(For buyers of manufactured housing)
This certification ensures manufactured homes are comfortable and energy efficient. Unique quality controls provided by the state energy office assure that every Super Good Cents (SGC) and Natural Choice home meets the program's exact standards. For the Northwest, contact the SGC regional hotline at 888-355-6277 to confirm certification.

Evergreen Building Guide - City of Issaquah, Washington
Guide outlines a four-star rating system for creating a regional definition for green homes and neighborhoods.
Contact: David Fujimoto at 425-837-3400

EcoHomes - by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), United Kingdom
This recently launched rating system is a voluntary certification scheme that assigns qualified homes a rating ranging from pass to excellent. This rating is determined by qualified assessors and evaluates seven areas: energy, transport, pollution, materials, water, ecology/land use, and health/well-being. BRE has also established a standard method of life-cycle assessment and has developed a reference aid, the "Green Guide for Housing Specification".

Green Building Proposal and Contract Language

Writing the Green RFP: Sustainable Design Language for Consultant Requests
The American Institute of Architiects' Committee on the Environment (COTE) published this guide to greening requests for proposals (RFPs) and qualifications (RFQs). Written for clients, it presents the basics of the RFP for design services, addresses some considerations unique to the green RFP, and offers sustainable design language. (Environmental Building News, Apr 2003, p 15, by Jessica Boehland).

Sample LEEDTM Services Procurement Language
A tool for green building planning, design and construction offers sample language for many sections of a request for proposal. Written in 2002 by the City of Seattle's Green Building Team.

Barriers To Green Building Codes and Standards

Breaking Down Barriers: Challenges and Solutions to Code Approval of Green Building Available at
The results of a survey by the Development Center for Appropriate Technology about the effect of building codes confirm that green building codes can be a barrier, for various reasons including fear that the building will not get approved. The report also gives examples of rejection by inspection officials, and strategies for success.

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