Study: Cost Advantages for Green Standard

Originally published by: NAHBSeptember 19, 2011

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A new study on green certification costs for home building and remodeling in the Chicago market demonstrates that the National Green Building Standard is a more flexible, affordable alternative for certifying single-family homes, townhouses and condos.

The study compared the standard with the Chicago Green Homes (CGH) program and LEED-H, the rating system for single-family homes developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“In all cases, registration, verification and certification costs for LEED-H were greater than the estimated costs for the CGH and the standard,” the study found. “LEED-H registration, verification and certification costs are approximately $2,776 compared to about $500 for verification and certification in the CGH or NGBS rating systems.”

“We are happy to see yet another independent study provide proof that certification to the National Green Building Standard is a credible, yet affordable path to high-performing, green residential buildings,” said Michael Luzier, president and CEO of the NAHB Research Center.

“This study underscores the ‘win-win’ proposition of certifying to the standard — it gives builders a way to legitimately go green and market that differentiation without busting their budgets, and it gives consumers at any price point a third-party, national certification they can rely on as verification of the green claims their builder is making.”

Released by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, the "Urban Green Building Rating System Cost Comparison" was conducted by FitzGerald Associates Architects, PC.

The study focuses on both the direct and indirect costs of meeting the requirements to attain certification under the three rating systems.

While previous studies have demonstrated that building homes to the National Green Building Standard is less expensive than building them to other, equally stringent rating systems, this is the first study to look at six-flats, the multifamily condo buildings typical of many Chicago neighborhoods.

When a home builder or remodeler complies with the standard when building or remodeling multifamily buildings, “the certification cost savings multiply greatly, so you can see the true benefit of using that rating system,” said Patrick Coveny, chair of the Chicago HBA’s High Performance Home Green Building Council.

The HBA hopes the study will help convince city leaders that the standard should be an option, along with LEED-H and CGH, for home builders and remodelers participating in the city’s green building initiatives.

The implications can also be much wider, said Kevin Morrow, senior program manager for green building at NAHB.

“While the study is centered on Chicago, the findings can be used in other urban areas to gauge the cost of meeting various residential green building programs, especially where multifamily construction predominates,” he said.

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