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First released in 2005 as the NAHB Model Green Building Guidelines, the current 2012 National Green Building Standard for residential buildings has undergone significant content improvement, while enjoying new partnerships. The NGBS is developed as an ANSI American National Standard, under the rules of the Home Research Innovation Laboratory (formerly NAHB Research Center). The 2008 and 2012 editions were both developed using a broad and balanced committee of stakeholders. The American Wood Council served on the ANSI committees responsible for approving the 2008 and 2012 editions of the NGBS and is currently a member of the 2015 committee.

The scope of the NGBS includes residential construction, ranging in complexity from single family dwellings to high-rise condominiums. Portions of mixed-use residential buildings, which are non-residential occupancies, cannot use the rating system. The rating system is point-based, with an entry level of bronze and a top level of emerald for the ultimate in high performance green building. Energy requirements are tied to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), providing builders with a mechanism to meet code and earn points for green buildings. There are site layout and disturbance provisions for single lots or subdivisions, depending on the nature of the development. The materials chapter includes criteria for life cycle assessment at the product, assembly and whole-building level.

Since its inception in 2005, the NGBS has steadily increased in popularity with home builders and buyers, alike. The 2008 edition was co-produced with the International Code Council (ICC), providing immediate recognition by the building code community. This valuable connection to the International Codes, provides consistency in terminology and fundamental requirements, so that builders can confidentially use the standard and not be concerned with non-compliance to the codes.

For the 2015 edition of the NGBS, NAHB has partnered with the energy expertise of ASHRAE. This new partnership will provide the rating system with a high-degree of specificity and rigor related to building energy performance. The NGBS is well positioned to retain its leadership position in residential green building standards. A strong partnership with organizations that can provide a complementary vision for content will continue to grow demand for dwellings that are NGBS compliant.

Four levels of achievement are available: bronze, silver, gold, and emerald.