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Green Basics

Environments for Living

A Rating System Based on Performance Rather Than Points


EFL Certified Green grew from guidelines originally written by two influential building scientists, John Tooley of the Advanced Energy Corporation and Joseph Lstiburek of Building Science Corporation.

The original EFL program introduced in 2001 sets a number of performance standards for buildings for “gold” and “platinum” status. Unlike LEED for Homes or NGBS, there is no scavenging for points. A building either meets the standards or it doesn’t.

Builders don’t have to use Masco building products to participate, although a companion rating system called “Ecomagination” is essentially a marketing tool for GE products.


Masco launched its original Environments for Living (EFL) program in 2001, and decided to pursue a more comprehensive green program in 2005. The effort faltered, but Masco relaunched it as “Environments for Living Certified Green” at the 2009 International Builders Show. Certified Green homes must meet additional requirements beyond the energy-efficiency requirements on which the program was founded.

EFL’s program has always been based on performance, not points, and has some unusual features, including an energy-use guarantee. Its scope is more limited than either LEED for Homes or NGBS.

Requirements for “certified green” homes are grouped into four main topic areas: energy efficiency, water efficiency (inside the house), durability, and indoor environmental quality. Detailed standards cover a variety of building details: framing, air barriers, insulation, window specifications, heating and cooling system design, ducts, ventilation, pressure balancing, and moisture management, to name a few.

Tight Ducts and a Tight Shell

There are few differences between gold and platinum houses. Tougher standards for platinum are detailed in only two areas other than energy efficiency: airtightness of the house overall and the tightness of heating and cooling ducts. For example, under requirements for air tightness, leakage rates in a gold house…

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