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Green Building Certifications, and the Residential Green Building Market - Where are We Now?

placeholder+imagePosted on: 08/29/2022

Rate It Green Members and Friends - 

When Grace Morrison set out to write an Introduction to Residential Green Building Certifications, she wanted to do more than describe existing programs at a high level, but also work to share a window as to how people are making decisions about “going green” and how one might approach this topic as a new homeowner or someone looking to undertake a project, or even as a professional looking to learn more.  The idea was to help interested people find at least bridges to solutions, and to try not to describe something academically or that might seem like it’s “for someone else.”    

There’s still a difference between building the way many are used to, and green building, and change is not as easy as is often suggested, for busy people, particularly those who might be working in small businesses and who are dealing with supply chains and workforce challenges and clients, all while facing tight deadlines.  We need to keep in mind that the building professionals who need to be able to answer questions about sustainable practices and products may not know everything they’d like about these concepts, even if they have been building for decades.  A lack of education about certifications and about green building generally means it's both hard to answer these inquiries and to do the work we need to do to reduce the consumption and emissions of buildings, and to make our built environment healthier for all occupants. How can one enthusiastically sell what they haven’t had time to fully research yet?  And how do we help change this level of knowledge and awareness? 

Grace’s research led her to speak with several industry experts who have been working to green the residential building industry for decades, in their own practices and b working as well to help inform others.  And these conversations led to a second and exciting piece, on the State of the Residential Green Building Market.  We might talk often about whether green building is mainstream yet or not, but I don’t know if we often enough dig down a bit more and share our experiences and frustrations and worries, and hopes and expectations.  Everyone Grace spoke to considers themselves an optimist at some level.  Me too, or why would we keep working so hard to make buildings better, smarter, and safer for everyone?  But we all know there’s so much more work to do to reach our goals, and for everyone.  We’re just about at a tipping point… but it’s also fair to wonder, “Haven’t we been here for quite some time?” And, “Are we there yet?”  

I am really excited to share the words, wisdom, and hopes of these professionals with our wider audience.  Thank you greatly to:

This residential green dream team made their time available and candidly shared their ideas on where we are in residential green building, where we can go next, and how we can hope to get there.  Interestingly, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was passed after these interviews were completed.  I hope therefore we’ve really been able to capture and present a picture of the industry just before a period of great and exciting change, the kind of change these experts have been working to create.  I also don’t assume the IRA is going to magically solve all of our challenges - It’s not yet easy enough to be (or build) green, and we’ve learned this won’t change overnight.  

How do we make green building easy?  And if we are being honest, the right question might be, “How do we make green building more approachable?”  Because we do need to recognize this is hard work, even if it’s important and we need to do it.  These experts know, as they have been working to better our buildings for decades.  As Marla Esser Cloos presents the key set of challenges: Can we convincingly show people they can have the benefits of green building and not spend more or even save, and finance this work to make it cost neutral or at least not a financial burden now?  

What is your opinion?  What can we do to educate and inspire everyone, pros and consumers alike, to do the work needed on each and every building to help reach our climate change mitigation goals? Do you believe that incremental change adds up? Do you want to see even bigger policy change across all buildings and all geographies? What do you think will make the difference? What will the impact of the IRA legislation be?  And, will it be enough?  

Let’s discuss!  If you’re a Rate It Green member, reply to these articles and share your opinion, or write new pieces to share your views.  If you are not a member of this free and open community, we warmly invite you to join (free!) and to jump in!  Share an opinion, ask a question, and please feel welcome to debate!  Thanks to Grace Morrison for her work on these pieces.  I am pleased to share these original opinions as well as her analyses and synthesis with our members and wider community.  

Thank you, 

Allison Friedman
Founder, Rate It Green


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