U.S. green building rating systems have so far largely failed to address renovations of existing homes, in particular so-called multifamily dwellings like apartment buildings. But that is set to change. We’ve learned that the Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit Build It Green has secured grants to expand its GreenPoint Rated system to include such larger residential buildings. Tenaya Asan, a Build It Green program manager, would neither disclose the value of the grants nor say where they came from, but she did say that the nonprofit plans to have the new multifamily rating system ready within a year.
Designers and builders alike should delight at the news. Green building rating systems are akin to report cards for structures, with higher grades given to those with the most green features, such as insulation, sustainable materials, and energy-efficient appliances. Though the industry is still in its infancy, developers and homeowners increasingly want greener buildings and many existing structures, especially in high-density areas like San Francisco, are considered multifamily dwellings. Industry watchers say buildings certified as green tend to be more valuable than their less-green peers, sell more quickly, and retain tenants longer.
Currently, Build It Green’s GreenPoint system covers only new single-family and multifamily homes and existing single-family homes. The largest U.S. green building rating system, LEED, managed by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, has a residential remodeling program for existing homes that provides resources and tools for remodeling projects, but LEED does not yet have a rating system for existing homes. Build It Green’s system is primarily used in California, with about 70 cities statewide officially embracing their guidelines. The organization is, however, pushing to expand beyond the Golden State.