Green Building Organizations Tackle Credentials and Remodeling

November 21, 2007

With the growing international reliance on the LEED rating system for green buildings, the green building movement is spawning new organizations and a host of related new Web sites. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) started the LEED rating system, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and the council is now composed of more than 12,000 organizations from across the building industry. To keep its focus on buildings, the USGBC announced on November 19th that it will spin off its credentialing activities to a new organization, called the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). The USGBC will transfer its LEED Professional Accreditation program to the GBCI in January 2008. See the USGBC press release and the new GBCI Web site.

Meanwhile, the USGBC has been working with the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation to create the first nationwide green remodeling guidelines for existing homes. The guidelines are part of a new "Regreen" program and cover a range of remodeling options, from simply painting a room to gutting a house down to its framing and then rebuilding it. The guidelines also focus on specific areas of the house, like the kitchen or bathroom, but emphasize a whole-house approach to remodeling. The guidelines are available for comment through December 10th and can be accessed by selecting the "Public Comment" button on the Regreen program Web site. The USGBC has also launched a third Web site, the Green Home Guide, which provides information for homeowners. The site will eventually incorporate the new remodeling guidelines. See the USGBC press release (PDF 26 KB), the Regreen Web site, and the Green Home Guide Web site. Download Adobe Reader.

For those embarking on a remodeling project, or even building a new home or commercial building, BuildingGreen, Inc. has named its top ten green building products for 2007. While some of the products are mainly green because of their use of sustainable or recycled materials, six of them relate in some way to energy, including a super-efficient dishwasher, an ultra-low-flush urinal, a wireless control device that can be powered with vibrations or ambient light, and a fiberglass-framed window that incorporates aerogel packets into its frame for added insulation. Aerogel, sometimes called "solid smoke," is the world's lowest-density solid and serves as an excellent insulator. Of particular interest is the Solmetric Suneye, a hand-held device for measuring the shading caused by nearby trees and houses, which could be useful for both passive and active solar energy projects. Also noteworthy is a lamp that employs light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce 60 lumens per watt, a lighting efficiency that is better than compact fluorescent lamps. The lamp, from LED Lighting Fixtures, Inc., achieves a natural-looking, warm light by combining red and yellowish-green LEDs. See the BuildingGreen press release and the top ten list.