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Community Green Building Programs

Green building is becoming more widespread both as a solution to specific building-related problems, and as a means of working toward a sustainable future. Community green building programs such as the following are making great strides toward promoting public acceptance of green building and its benefits, as well as encouraging builders to adopt green building practices. While some green building programs are sponsored by state or local government, others are administered by home building industry associations or by other nonprofit groups. 

Arlington County, Virginia, offers both a Green Choice Home program that promotes green residential construction and a Green Building Incentive Program that requires all site plan applications in the county to include a completed LEED ™ scorecard.

Build a Better Kitsap program promotes environmentally friendly construction, energy-saving concepts, and use of natural resources in Kitsap County, Washington. The program establishes "Code Plus" standards to improve a building's performance and provide significant economic and environmental benefits to the owner and future generations. Features include point weighting for items, and a handbook with carefully linked content areas and local resources.

Built Green is a program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, Washington designed to provide Puget Sound homeowners with comfortable, durable, environmentally friendly homes. The Built Green Checklist, the program's menu of actions that builders use to certify homes, can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Built Green Colorado was developed to highlight green builders in the Denver Metro Region, which now applies statewide. The program is voluntary and serves as a guide and a marketing tool for homes that meet certain green criteria. Builders and remodelers that participate in the program receive technical assistance, discounts on educational seminars, and other benefits.

California Green Builder Program is a voluntary program developed by the Building Industry Institute that sets standards for improvements in energy efficiency, reduction in air emissions, on-site waste recycling and reduction in water use.

City of Austin Green Building Program is a voluntary program that certifies green homes on a scale of one to four stars, with more stars being awarded to homes with more green features. The program also provides assistance to building professionals, such as architects, engineers, and builders, in exchange for offering and promoting green building practices. For more information, see: "Green Builder Program: A Sustainable Approach"

City of Portland's Green Building Program is an integrated, conservation-based effort to promote resource-efficient building and sustainable site design practices throughout the City. Coordinating the expertise and resources of six City bureaus, this intiative sets aggressive goals and recommends a carefully selected set of strategies to leverage local expertise and develop cost-effective solutions for builders, developers, and building owners and users.

EarthCraft House Program is a program of Georgia's Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association that provides training, design and construction technical assistance, marketing materials and direct referrals to participating builders. Building projects earn points by implementing a range of options for site planning, energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation and indoor air quality.

Florida Green Building Coalition Green Home Designation Standard is a standard for green homes, available online in checklist or complete form. The Florida Green Building Coalition also has a broader Green Development Designation Standard.

Governor's Green Government Council, in Pennsylvania, offers High-Performance Green Building Guidelines, as well as numerous online resources, reports, and a green building database.

Green Building is a city program in San Jose, California that has been created to encourage and facilitate new construction or remodeling of homes or workplaces into spaces that are healthier for people and the planet. Program policies are available online.

Green Building Design and Construction, a program of the California Integrated Waste Management Board, not only provides information for the sustainable construction of state facilities, but also offers a Sustainable Building Tool Kit for project managers, and green building case studies.

Green Building Guidelines is the second generation of sustainable residential design guidelines from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, in cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders. With illustrations, case studies, and checklists, the six-chapter book is a valuable resource for builders and even buyers interested in producing or purchasing energy- and resource-efficient homes. The book can be ordered from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, which also offers a companion workshop.

Green Built Home™, a green building initiative that reviews and certifies homes that meet sustainable building and energy standards, is a voluntary program of Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and is sponsored by participating home builder associations in cooperation with leading utilities, organizations that promote green building and energy efficiency and the State of Wisconsin.

Green Points Building Program is a green builder program in Boulder, Colorado that applies to both new construction and remodeling projects. The Green Points New Home Program applies to new construction and additions larger that 500 square feet, and requires building permit applicants to earn "points" by selecting optional measures in order to receive a building permit. The Green Points Remodeling Program is voluntary and applies to remodeling projects and additions less than 500 square feet. Homeowners and contractors are encouraged to include as many green options in their projects as possible.

Hawaii BuiltGreen™ is a voluntary green building program of the Hawaii Building Industry Association.

Marin's BEST! (Building Energy Efficient Structures Today), a program of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, exists to enhance energy efficiency and conservation in residential, commercial, and community facilities. The program offers green building guidelines, technical assistance, incentives and rebates.

Maryland Green Building Program works with county and municipal planners to evaluate and modify codes, ordinances and policies that foster green building and green development. Also coordinates a traveling green building exhibit and sponsors workshops. Maryland also offers a Green Building Tax Credit on commercial construction.

New Jersey Green Homes Office is working to fundamentally improve the environmental performance, energy efficiency, quality, and affordability of housing in New Jersey. Through advocacy, education, and technical assistance they are accelerating the use of innovative green design and building technologies, raising building standards and creating consumer demand for efficient and environmentally responsible high performance homes.

New York's Battery Park City Green Guidelines establish a process for the creation of environmentally responsible residential buildings that are appreciably ahead of current standards and practices. The guidelines, developed by the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, may be viewed in PDF format.

New York State Green Building Initiative offers a tax incentive program for developers and builders of environmentally friendly buildings.

Scottsdale Green Building Program, in Arizona, encourages a whole-systems approach through design and building techniques to minimize environmental impact and reduce the energy consumption of buildings while contributing to the health of occupants. The program rates homes on six environmental impacts.

Seattle Sustainable Building, at the City of Seattle, Washington, implements the city's Sustainable Building Policy, provides guidelines for city facilities, and offers technical assistance and incentives.

The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit coalition of 1,500 leading companies, organizations, and federal/state/local agencies advancing buildings that are "environmentally repsonsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work." Members have developed the LEED™ rating system and third-party certification system for new and existing commercial buildings, and high-rise residential buildings. New products are being developed for homes and neighborhoods. USGBC also offers LEED training workshops and accreditation.

Other Resources

Guide to Developing Green Builder Programs, a publication and CD available from the National Association of Homebuilders Research Center, analyzes six green building programs to determine the most effective requirements and incentives, as well as details like organizational structure and advertising budgets. Identifies the necessary steps to create a program and includes a Green Builder Program Template. NAHB Research Center also has an online section on Local Green Building Programs, with profiles of programs nationwide.

New Home Construction: Green Building Guidelines are provided by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority & Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board. A green building materials resource guide is also available.

Santa Monica Green Building Design & Construction Guidelines were created by the City of Santa Monica to facilitate the development of "green" buildings in Santa Monica without forcing excessive costs or other burdens upon developers, building owners or occupants. Santa Monica also operates a Green Building Resource Center open to the public.

The Sustainable Building Sourcebook was created by the City of Austin Green Building Program. Includes chapters on water, energy, building materials, and solid waste. 

U.S. Green Building Council State and Local Government Tool Kit, released in November, 2002, is designed to assist state and local governments in developing green building programs. The Tool Kit provides information on existing green building programs and publications, particularly those based on the LEED rating system, to serve as models and resources for new programs. Information on starting a green building program and adapting and adopting LEED is included.

Last updated: February 7, 2005

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