3 New Opportunities for Multifamily Developers to Use the 2020 NGBS


People spend approximately 90% of their time indoors; in a pre-COVID-19 world, much of that indoor time was spent away from their home at work or play. Now, many have spent nearly all their time at home for two months or more, giving them the opportunity to better understand the way their homes impact their quality of life every day.

Comfort, efficiency and health were already trending prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and this raised consumer awareness may make it more prevalent to prospective residents looking to rent or purchase an apartment, townhome or condominium moving forward.

Using green, high-performance practices can position multifamily developers and builders to meet that demand. Seeing green is 20/20, and the new ICC 700-2020 National Green Building Standard® (NGBS) provides a flexible roadmap to guide the design and construction of your next high-performance project, while the certification process provides the third-party verification to validate your work.

The NGBS — the first residential green building rating system approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — has been used by building professionals for more than a decade.

As of June 2020, more than 223,000 homes and residential units have been certified to the standard, which provides practices for the design and construction of all types of green residential buildings, renovations and land developments.

The comprehensive NGBS covers all six keys areas of high-performance building: Site Design, Resource Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Building Operation & Maintenance.

And the 2020 edition expands the application of innovative practices and offers additional paths toward certification. Significant changes impacting multifamily developers and builders include:

  • An expanded scope that now includes certification for:
    • Mixed-use buildings in their entirety as long as the residential portion of the building is greater than 50% of gross floor area; and
    • Assisted living facilities, residential board and care facilities, and group homes.
  • A substantially revised remodeling chapter that offers:
    • An option to utilize a phased approach for multifamily remodeling projects; and
    • A choice of prescriptive or performance compliance paths for energy and water efficiency.
  • A new water-efficiency performance path using an index that generates a score relative to a standard baseline property and equates that to an NGBS certification level.

Pursuing NGBS Green certification as part of an overall approach starting early in the design process can result in a cost-effective green property.

  • Start with the "building as a system" design approach. Everything in a residential property — electrical, plumbing, ventilation, building envelope, site, etc. — is interconnected and can either work with or against each other, depending on the design. Early collaboration on these subsystems provides the opportunity to maximize the property’s performance cost effectively for your location and market.
  • Involve your entire project team early on before key decisions are made. Too often, the builders are left out of the design process, even though they have firsthand knowledge of how the systems and components come together in the field. By bringing them into the discussions early, the amount of change orders can be reduced, saving the project time and ultimately saving money.
  • Include all your subcontractors early in this process, too. Show them how their individual roles are key to the success of the project as a whole and ask for their insights. This can also save money and create the best home for your client.

Download the NGBS for free at nahb.org/ngbs.

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