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Green Basics

Local Green Building Programs

Local Programs Can Be Geared Towards Local Issues

Lesser known, but maybe more relevant

Some of the local and regional green building programs are much older than either of the two best known national brands, LEED for Homes and the National Green Building Standard. In Austin, Texas, for instance, green building has been around in some form for more than 20 years.

Given wider publicity, national programs should have better name recognition and a marketing edge among home buyers just moving into the area. But local and regional programs presumably are better tailored to local conditions and may be appealing to home buyers who already live in the area and know the label.

Green building in the Texas capital city got its start more than 20 years ago when the Austin City Council created an Energy Star program. That later evolved into the city’s Green Building Program, which in 1994 became a charter member of the U.S. Green Building Council. A program for commercial buildings was launched 1995, and in 1998 the program became part of Austin Energy, a municipally owned electric utility.

It’s interesting to note the city requires all municipal buildings to be certified as LEED silver.

Austin’s residential green building program rates single-family houses and duplexes in Austin Energy’s service area. Performance is measured in 11 categories that will sound familiar to students of LEED for Homes or NGBS, including:

Certification is awarded on five levels (one to five stars) depending on the number of points the house wins. Basic certification plus 50 points, for example, wins two stars; basic plus 125 points equals five stars.

Among basic requirements:

Builders must submit a Manual J report (a calculation of heating and cooling loads), and the house is subject to rough and final inspections as well as performance testing by a third-party inspector. Inspections and certification are viewed as…

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