The National Association of Home Builders' new National Green Building Standard covers many heavy topics, but one part of it holds particular weight for dealers. Called "Resource Efficiency," it focuses on minimizing the material that goes into a home, choosing environmentally friendly products, and generating less waste.
While the standard may result in fewer sales of some materials, it stokes the sales of others. And the section gives dealers the chance to work with builders throughout the construction process to become crucial in meeting green objectives. Here's a summary of the NAHB rules most likely to affect dealers.
Getting Certified. To get certification under NAHB's standard, builders must earn points by completing mandatory tasks and following suggested guidelines. These range from siting a building in a way that minimizes environmental impact to recycling unused construction materials.
To reach the minimum level of certification, Bronze, a builder must earn 222 points. The Resource Efficiency section must make up 45 points, the second-most total required for any category. To reach Emerald, the highest level of certification, a builder must get 697 points, of which 146 need to come from the Resource Efficiency section.
Planning Ahead. The Resource Efficiency section is a double-edged sword for dealers. Several provisions give points for practices that lead to builders buying less wood than before. On the other hand, the section gives dealers an important role in the construction process; they can work with builders to develop the best possible project plan. And dealers can ensure that builders don't overstock products, says Kevin Morrow, NAHB's green building program director.
Using advanced framing techniques that can lower lumber needs will earn builders up to nine points. Builders get up to 13 points for minimizing material cuts, which reduces waste, if they do so for at least 80% of specific areas, such as floors, walls, and roofs. The standard rewards four points for detailed plans, materials lists, and onsite cut lists.
The Parr Co. of Hillsboro, Ore., which includes a lumberyard, developed a green builder program that creates specific project instructions to reduce lumber waste by 75%, compared to traditionally built homes, the company says.
Recycling. Both dealers and builders can become greener by working together to reuse products. Builders that recycle two or more types of construction material can get up to six points. Dealers can decide what could be returned to yards.
Using Prepared Products. The standards provide a variety of green products dealers can stock. Builders get 12 points for using pre-cut or pre-assembled components for 90% of floor, wall, and roof systems. Roof trusses, floor trusses, and engineered wood are listed as products that use less waste than their conventional counterparts. These types of products can get builders up to nine points. Materials that do not require additional finishing get builders up to 12 points.
Preventing Deterioration. Porch roofs and awnings, roof overhangs, and termite barriers can get builders up to 13 points. Using termite-resistant materials gets builders up to six points. Where required by the International Residential Code or the International Building Code, installing a water-resistive barrier or drainage plane behind exterior veneer or siding is mandatory. So is installing ice barriers at roof eaves in areas prone to ice formation.
To get six points, flashing must be installed around exterior fenestrations, skylights, and doors; at roof valleys; at deck or balcony intersections with buildings; and at roof-to-wall intersections and roof-to-chimney intersections. Drip caps must be provided above unflashed windows and doors that are not flashed.
Using Environmentally Friendly Products. Builders get three points if at least 90% of a roof surface uses products that meet Energy Star cool-roof requirements, and three points if builders use reclaimed or salvaged materials (so long as the cost of these materials and related labor is at least 1% of a project's total construction cost). Using materials with recycled content for two minor or major parts of a home earns up to nine points. Minor parts include trim and cabinetry; major parts include walls, floors, and roofs. Using indigenous materials for major elements gets builders up to 10 points.
Certified Wood. Certified wood is accepted from the American Tree Farm System, the Canadian Standards Association's Sustainable Forest Management System, the Forest Stewardship Council, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Systems (and programs it recognizes), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative's program. Using two certified wood products on minor elements gets a builder three points, four points if used on major elements. The NAHB says the required documentation depends on each certification's requirements. For example, dealers would need chain-of-custody certification to sell FSC- and SFI-certified wood.
Bio-based materials also earn points. These are certified solid wood, engineered wood, bamboo, cotton, and cork; products made from straw or natural fibers; and products made from crops, such as soy-based and corn-based materials. Each should have at least 50% bio-based content by weight or volume or be designated as BioPreferred by the Agriculture Department. At least 0.5% of a project's total material costs need to come from bio-based materials to get builders up to eight points.
Considering the Cycle. Builders are encouraged to think about how products are made and delivered. Using materials from companies with green practices can earn builders up to 10 points, if costs equal at least 1% of the estimated building materials cost. If a company's production facilities are ISO 14001 certified, then its products can count to this category. Companies get the certification from an outside party that determines they meet specific environmental management requirements. Products that do well on life-cycle assessments earn builders up to 15 points.
During a life-cycle assessment, many factors are considered to determine a product's environmental impact: how much energy went into making a product, what it contains, how far it travels, whether it's reusable, and more. For example, a cabinet made locally has less of impact than the same cabinet shipped across the country.
Software programs can demonstrate which products are best according to life-cycle analysis. One program, BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability), available for free online, can help dealers choose products.
Going Beyond Products. The Resource Efficiency section shows that builders must think green throughout a project. Lumber dealers can become key in making this process easier.
"It isn't just delivering materials that are stamped as resource efficient," Morrow says. "There are plenty of opportunities in making sure a builder can become greener."