The amount of residential green building programs is numerous, but they are not all concrete specific. However, concrete does play an important role in green building. It can help earn points in multiple categories toward a green certified home, and decorative concrete is gaining popularity among home owners looking to remodel instead of buy new. The below national programs as well as many local programs are available to help you go green.
NAHB National Green Building Program
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) launched its new National Green Building Program in February of 2008. The NAHB program is not a rating system or certification program but rather a tool to help local green building programs and contractors who want to build green, says Emily English, Green Building Program manager.
"What the national program does is allow HBAs (home builders associations) to have something in common. It also makes it easier for a new home builder association to come on board because its members don't have to spend time setting up a program and figuring out criteria," English says.
Although the program officially launched in 2008, NAHB released its Model Green Home Building Guidelines back in 2005. The guidelines were the start to the program, which now consists of three major components, English says.
The first component is the technical component. NAHB provides a green scoring tool that helps contractors figure out what the home may potentially score when certifying it green. However, English points out this is just a tool and not a way for contractors to get a home certified.
Another technical aspect of the NAHB program is the National Green Building Standard which is waiting ANSI approval (see "Defining Green Building" sidebar on page 42).
The second component is education, including training, conferences as well as other educational tools available on the NAHB website (www.NAHBgreen.org).
A major education aspect for NAHB is its Certified Green Professional Designation. This certification comes from taking a couple courses - which are taught both locally and at national shows - signing a code of ethics, and earning continuing education credits. English says by August 2008, NAHB had certified 702 green building professionals since the program started in February.
English says after contractors earn their diplomas, NAHB provides them with logos to use for advertising as well as an imprint for business cards. "We also have a searchable directory of certified green professionals online, for those looking for an expert in green," English says.
The final component of the program is networking. "Builders can talk to each other and share information and materials," English says.
Contractors can use the NAHB program and green building guidelines in planning the concrete elements of the building process. A concrete contractor can also use the online scoring tool to calculate the number of credits the concrete work might earn and then use that when bidding on a job, English adds.
LEED for Homes
Launched in November 2007 by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED for Homes is a voluntary rating program designed to help enhance construction of residential building, says Nate Kredich, vice president of residential market development for USGBC.
The rating system consists of eight categories in which contractors must earn a certain number of points to achieve various levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. "A basic rule of thumb is that each of the successive certification levels require about 33% more points than the prior," Kredich says.
The categories are location and linkages, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and design, and awareness and education.
Kredich says over 600 homes had been certified in 2008.