Confused about all the green building certifications out there? Me too. But over the summer I've been meeting with a group of builders and designers from around the state as the volunteer "Residential Green Building Advocate" for Vermont to try to get a grasp on the 4 existing programs in the state, and pros and cons of each.
Certification programs give buildings a kind of "seal of approval" for greenness. LEED has become the most recognized green building certification program for commercial projects, but in January 2008, USGBC set out to address the large residential building market with the launch of LEED-H - or LEED for HOMES. However, many municipalities, Home Builder Associations, and states (including Vermont) have had their own residential rating systems for years. With the introduction of a new nationally recognized standard, and various programs to choose from, how do you decide which is most appropriate for your project? A group made up of members from the Vermont Green Building Network (VGBN), Building for Social Responsibility (BSR), Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Housing Finance Association (VHFA), and the Home Builders Remodeling Association (HBRA), has been meeting over the past several months to develop a comprehensive resource for residential green building programs available in Vermont. The short term goal is to develop an interactive website that allows consumers to understand and evaluate the various components of each program in terms of design and building requirements, certification standards, and costs. The overall goal is to have all the groups work together to improve the housing stock in Vermont! We eventually hope to have this resource available as part of VGBN's website, but you can currently find information about individual programs at the following websites:
LEED for HOMES- (LEED-H) USGBC's home rating standard
Vermont Builds Greener - (VBG) Vermont's residential rating program
Energy Star - EPA Energy Efficiency Guidelines for homes
National Association of Home Builders - Model Green Home Guidelines.