Green Standards and Certifications for Multifamily Housing


There are many positive features that come with having an energy-efficient home. Using quality building materials, and energy-efficient appliances and technology can save property owners and tenants money on energy bills. With more efficient insulation, less heat and air conditioning is needed in the winter and summer months, thus lowering energy consumption. Installing energy-saving appliances and lighting can also lower energy bills by reducing consumption by up to 80 percent.

These products and building materials should not only help save money, but they should also help save the environment. LED lighting is less harmful to the environment due to the fact that LEDs last significantly longer than traditional lighting sources. Thus, fewer light bulbs in landfills. Building and renovating homes to become more energy efficient also keeps natural resources like oil, gas and coal on our earth longer.

Because LED light bulbs last longer than other types of lighting, tenants and property owners don’t need to take the time to replace them as frequently. Houses will stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter with quality insulation and windows. All of these things can make it more comfortable for tenants and even create a higher quality of life.

To ensure tenants are living green, some communities are going as far as requiring tenants to sign a “green lease,” promising they will practice sustainable living habits while living there. These can include anything from recycling and composting to using public transportation.

By creating an energy-efficient home, homeowners are putting money in their pockets from cost savings, but they are also increasing the market value of their home. With increasing energy costs, anything in a home that can lower consumption is a plus. And with the rise of more environmentally conscious buyers, sustainable homes are a must on home-buying checklists.

“The United States uses 56% less energy today than if we didn’t have energy-efficient technologies and policies” – Alliance to Save Energy

Mandatory Certifications

ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1-2014: Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings

“A mandatory model code that contains minimum requirements for increasing the environmental and health performance of buildings’ sites and structures. Generally, it applies to the design and construction of all types of buildings except single-family homes, multifamily home with three or fewer stories, and modular and mobile homes.” (EPA)

This code includes commercial, industrial, mixed use and residential (multifamily with more than three stories) building types – new construction and addition projects.

Subject areas include:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Materials and resource use
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Construction and operations plans

Another mandatory program is the International Code Council’s 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

This code is very similar to the ASHRAE standard, but does not include manufacturing systems and equipment in the industrial segment and includes alteration projects.

Subject areas include:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Materials and resource use
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Emissions
  • Operations and maintenance

Voluntary Certifications

One of the most well-known voluntary green certification programs is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is a rating system used to evaluate the environmental performance of a building that aims to encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.

The five project categories are:

LEED v4 is a credit-based system allowing projects to earn points for environmentally friendly actions. Depending on the total of points earned, projects can earn Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points) or Platinum (80-110 points) levels. (Not every project must meet identical requirements to qualify).

LEED v4 for Building Design & Construction: Homes and Multifamily Lowrise and Midrise Project Checklist includes the following categories:

Other voluntary programs include (but are not limited to):

“Overall, energy efficiency is saving the American government, its citizens and businesses more than $500 billion a year in avoided energy costs.” – Alliance to Save Energy 

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