NGBS chair reflects on 2023 trends while also discussing third-party certification and what 2024 has in store
Green Home Builder: What are you most proud of from your time as the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Green Advisory Group Chairman?
Bill Greene: It was an honor to be recently selected for the NGBS Advisory Group chairman position during this past August 2023 annual NGBS Green Advisory Group meeting. Troy Johns, our past NGBS Green Advisory Group chairman, has successfully led this group throughout the years and I have learned so much from Troy and from interacting with the NGBS Advisory Group and NGBS Verifiers during my eight-year tenure as an NGBS Green Advisory Group member. I have some big shoes to fill as the next NGBS Green Advisory Group Chairman, but I feel confident I can continue to lead the NGBS Advisory Group into the future. We have a solid group from different sectors in the industry and we all bring so much experience to the table.
GHB: What green building trends have you seen emerge throughout 2023?
BG: As we continue to experience extremes in the global weather patterns, higher demands for energy, significant energy shortages and the increasing strain on our natural resources, sustainable designs and construction practices are moving more and more quickly to front and center in the industry. There are so many lessons learned from the recent global pandemic which we are also continuing to apply to building designs today. I believe we will see more focus on biophilic design, which integrates natural materials such as plants, water and natural light, to generate spaces that improve well-being and efficiency.
Smart technology has also become a vital part of sustainable design. By having more control of lighting, and cooling/heating systems, especially in unoccupied spaces, we’ll be able to have more energy-efficient buildings and lower the energy demands especially at peak times during the day.
GHB: What are the benefits of being NGBS certified?
BG: I believe the biggest benefit of the NGBS certification program is the third-party verification process during the construction phase to ensure the sustainable design standards using the National Green Building Standard ICC-700 applied in the design process are being properly installed during construction. The results of the NGBS certification program will promote healthy homes such as delivering fresh air ventilation that improves indoor air quality and preventing moisture problems that can contribute to mold. Certification also helps lower operating costs by reducing energy and water consumption. Further, it endorses sustainable lifestyles such as preserving and protecting natural resources through responsible practices.
I believe we will see more focus on biophilic design, which integrates natural materials such as plants, water and natural light, to generate spaces that improve well-being and efficiency.”
GHB: Where do you see green, sustainable building practices headed in the next few years?
BG: As building and energy codes become more stringent in the next few years, and within the next decade, I believe we’ll see a bigger push for net zero energy buildings, renewable energy sources, water conservation, sustainable materials, designing for resilience and hopefully more generous government tax incentives.
GHB: Does NGBS have any specific new initiatives in store for 2024?
BG: The 2024 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) was recently released for public comments this past August 2023 with a deadline at the beginning of October 2023. The 2024 version of the NGBS will be the fifth iteration of this national standard which was first established in 2009. Some of the new initiatives will focus on design improvements for insulation and air sealing, plumbing and water systems, and full building envelope enclosure systems. Home Innovation Research Labs, which acts as the administrator of the National Green Building Standard development process, will then submit to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for review and final approval.
GHB: What advice do you have to offer for those looking to build green?
BG: The first step is to evaluate the design goals of the project from the early design phases and what the project budgets are to obtain a green building certification. Is a green building program required by the owner, an investor, or even by the local municipality? More and more cities are requiring a green building program, either their own, or will accept a national green building program as an equal to theirs.
Once determined, a green building program is required, one must evaluate the quality and condition of the site, the proposed building structure, the building envelope/veneer systems and engineering systems along with the installation methods to ensure performance that meets the green building program requirements during design and the third-party verification process during construction.
As an architect, I worked with multiple national green building programs, and have found NGBS to be the most streamlined program throughout the design process and construction verification process to achieve a nationally recognized green building program.