Green Built Homes Evolving to Encourage Regenerative Design

Sure Foot Builders HERS Record Green Built Homes Certification Green Built Alliance

Administered by the Asheville-based nonprofit Green Built Alliance, Green Built Homes is updating its statewide certification program this year to incentivize builders to incorporate elements of regenerative design in their projects.

Formerly known as NC HealthyBuilt Homes, the Green Built Homes program has certified 1,700 houses by more than 250 builders across North Carolina since its inception in 2004.

As codes have changed and technologies have advanced in the 15 years since the program’s inception in 2004, Green Built Homes has continually evolved to encourage positive changes in the building industry and highlight new opportunities to make projects more sustainable.

Sure Foot Builders HERS Record Green Built Homes Certification Green Built Alliance

Most recently, in 2015, the program added a Net Zero Ready and Net Zero Energy Certification to reward builders of homes that produce as much energy on site as they use over the course of a year.

Now in 2019, through the support of the Kendeda Fund and local partners, the Green Built Homes program is poised to take the next leap toward regenerative buildings. Regenerative buildings are designed and built so that they are integrated and have a net-positive impact on the natural environment around them.

“A basic study of sustainability and the built environment’s role in the climate crisis indicate that it is imperative to make every decision an environmental improvement,” said Stephens Smith Farrell, an architect member of Green Built Alliance who also serves on the nonprofit’s Board of Directors. “Green Built Homes has shown that profound market change is possible. We’re going to continue pushing the margins of possibility until creating clean energy, cleaning the air and water, strengthening local economies, and ensuring the well being of all life with every action becomes standard practice.”

The certification system will evolve beyond its current approach of just rewarding features that make homes “less bad” for homeowners and the environment, to begin encouraging even more regenerative elements that actually improve the world around them. For example, a home with regenerative elements may produce more energy than it uses; capture and treat water onsite; incorporate biophilic design to enhance human connection with the natural world; or prioritize site restoration and native plantings or food production.

The program will now reward homes for calculating the total indoor and outdoor water use as designed. Homes that have the capacity to capture enough water to supply the needs of the home and manage 100 percent of their stormwater onsite can receive a new Net Zero Water Certification. Other expanded credit opportunities include use of completely non-toxic materials, onsite food production, restoring landscapes to protect local wildlife and more.

As part of the process, the Green Built Homes program will host a monthly series of in-depth, inspirational workshops through the fall and winter of 2019, which are aimed at educating and engaging building professionals in regenerative design.

“Many local builders and architects are ready for the challenge, inspiration and recognition of an advanced, regenerative version of Green Built Homes,” said Green Built Alliance Program Director Maggie Leslie, who manages the Green Built Homes program. “In addition, embedding items throughout the checklist will educate and inspire builders of all levels with new ideas.”

As Green Built Homes looks toward the next chapter of encouraging regenerative elements in its projects, it is also celebrating the success of its Net Zero Certification. In three years since beginning to offer that, Green Built Alliance has certified 30 Net Zero Energy homes with several noteworthy projects completed in the last months of 2018.

In December 2018, a Platinum Net Zero Energy project completed by Asheville’s Sure Foot Builders received a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index of -10 and attained 313 Green Built Homes points, setting a Green Built Homes program record for the lowest HERS Index within any certified project at that time.

See below for information about the five Platinum Net Zero Energy projects certified by Green Built Homes in November and December of 2018.