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WASHINGTON, DC-The American National Standards Institute has finalized a residential green building standard, which will encompass site development and multifamily building as well. Written to be compatible with existing building codes, the so-called National Green Building Standard is based in part on input by the National Association of Home Builders and the International Code Council. The National Multi-Housing Council and the National Apartment Assoc. also participated by having the standard expanded to include apartments and the residential portions of mixed-use developments.

Up until now most green building standards for commercial development have focused on office buildings. The US Green Building Council, for example, has issued several versions and updates to its LEED system for office buildings, but only created the position of VP of Residential Market Development a year ago.

In general, up until now most of the standards development work for multifamilies have focused on low and mid-rise buildings. The NGBS can be applied to low, mid and high-rise apartment construction, the Eileen Lee, NMHC/NAA’s vice president of Environment and Energy Policy, says in a prepared statement.

The NGBS’ rollout has laid bare the tug-of-war that often takes place behind the scenes in any standards setting process. In her statement, Lee went on to note that, with a growing number of states and localities considering mandatory green building requirements, “the NGBS offers them a more appropriate alternative for residential properties than other non-standardized green rating systems like the US Green Building Council’s LEED criteria.”

USGBC, for its part, says a new standard–no matter its origin–is good for the industry. “We congratulate them on it,” Nate Kredich, who was appointed to vice president for Residential Market Development at USGBC last year, tells GlobeSt.com. “A rising tide raises all ships.”

The new standard, he says, gives developers more choice in deciding where to participate on the green building continuum. LEED standards “are for market leaders and innovators–folks that want to distinguish their practice.”

The USGBC standard for multifamily building falls under the LEED for Homes program. It applies to buildings that are one to six stories high. Buildings that are between four and six stories can opt for LEED for New Construction, he says. Apartment buildings over six stories must use LEED for New Construction as the standard.

Calli Schmidt, director of environmental communications for the NAHB, tells GlobeSt.com that the multifamily developers the association has queried will likely use both USGBC and the ANSI standard, depending on their circumstances. “They have told us they find the ANSI standard both flexible and intuitive, so some may choose to just certify to ANSI; others will opt for both.”

Kathryn Palovsky, head of Deloitte’s enterprise sustainability practices, tells GlobeSt.com that having more than one standard is a healthy development. “There are different types of competencies that must be considered, touching upon engineering issues or financial reporting or internal controls. Companies now have the option to leverage both standards to understand the issues, as well as develop a comprehensive development approach as possible.”

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