Saving the world, one house at a time

2013-08-17T15:03:00Z Saving the world, one house at a timeMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 17, 2013 3:03 pm  • 

That’s precisely what the Valparaiso-based team at Energy Diagnostics does every day.

As the leading green/energy efficiency home verifying company in the Midwest, Energy Diagnostics handles more than 50 percent of the certifications in the state of Indiana, as well as a good number in Illinois and Michigan, according to Green Specialist Chris Schwarzkopf, who was just honored by Home Innovation Research Labs as one of 46 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Green Partners of Excellence for outstanding contributions to advancing green building in their communities and commitment to voluntary, market-driven, third-party certification of high-performance homes.

“We are extremely proud to be recognized once again by Home Innovation Research Labs as one of their NGBS Green Partners,” he said. “They don’t promote specific businesses, but they recognize about 40 individuals each year – 10 of which are accredited verifiers like myself. In reality, my whole company has been earning this recognition over the last couple of years.”

One of the first NGBS Green Verifiers to be accredited to 2012 NGBS, Schwarzkopf’s commitment and leadership is demonstrated through Energy Diagnostic’s work with builders, developers and remodelers so their residential projects can attain certification through the National Green Building Standard.

Earlier this year, with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval of the ICC 700-2012 Nation Green Building Standard, Home Innovation Research Labs began offering 2012 NGBS training. As of July 1st, Schwarzkopf was among the first batch of 135 verifiers accredited as qualified to conduct inspections for 2012 NGBS projects.

Working with Sarah Oudman of Treasure Homes, Schwarzkopf and the Energy Diagnostics team verified the third overall NGBS 2012 home in the country, which was also the first to achieve the highest Emerald status.

“Sarah does a phenomenal job,” he said. “A home needs to be a minimum of 40% above the 2009 code, which is Indiana’s standard right now, in order to meet the NGBS 2012. To achieve Emerald status you have to achieve even more points through other efficiencies such as lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality and homeowner education – the operation and owner’s manual. Every point matters, especially when you’re going for all of them.”

Along with Oudman of Treasure Homes, Schwarzkopf also frequently partners with Kelly Kaminiski of Coolman Communities and Dick Yoder of Yoder’s Custom Builders.

“Every house in Coolman’s Fairfield Green is built to the NGBS Gold Standard at minimum,” he said. “That’s fairly unique for this area. Dick Yoder always strives for that super low HERS score, and then tries to beat it on his next house.”

According to Home Innovations Labs, NGBS is the most rigorous national green building rating system available for residential buildings. Like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design which was originally designed for commercial projects and later adapted for the residential market), NGBS has a set of mandatory practices (LEED calls them prerequisites) that must be successfully implemented for a project to be certified at any level.

Also like LEED, NGBS has six categories from which architects and builders select the green practices they will incorporate into their homes and multifamily buildings.

That is where the similarities end.

For LEED certification, a building must attain a certain number of total points from any of the green building practices. For NGBS certification, a project must meet the point minimum in every category of green building practices. Each and every NGBS Green Certified project must incorporate sufficient green practices designed to increase resource efficiency, boost energy efficiency, reduce water use, minimize land development impacts, improve the indoor environment, and help ensure the building’s future performance through informed owner operation and maintenance.

Further, to attain higher levels of NGBS certification, the project must incorporate an increasing amount of green building practices in every category. This stringent requirement is designed to ensure that projects attaining higher certification levels are designed at higher performance targets for every aspect of green building. Got a net-zero energy home? Fabulous. But even with a very energy-efficient, high-performance home like that you can’t attain Emerald, the highest certification level in the NGBS, unless you also attain the Emerald point minimums for the five green building categories other than energy efficiency. If you are looking to set your projects apart from the competition from a performance perspective, only the NGBS ensures the highest level of rigor.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes in this last year – changes in the industry, in our company, and in the National Green Building Standard,” Home Innovation Labs President and CEO Michael Luzier said. “While all the changes have been extremely positive, we recognize it takes a lot for a company or an individual to ‘roll with the punches’ and persevere with the same level of enthusiasm and excellence in a certification program as rigorous as ours. That is why this year we were compelled to recognize the significant commitment to innovation and leadership in the residential construction industry that some of our NGBS Green Partners have displayed. We are truly impressed and inspired by what these companies and individuals are achieving in the field and the market transformation they are helping to accomplish.”

“Homes Innovation Research Labs accredited verifier Chris Schwarzkopf has been an accredited verifier since 2008 and is one of our highest volume verifiers in the country,” Vice President of Innovation Services Michelle Desiderio added. “Chris has experience verifying both new single family homes and multifamily buildings, as well as renovations and land developments to the National Green Building Standard. Few verifiers have that depth of experience. Builders and developers who work with Chris can feel confident that he will be able to deftly guide them through the certification process.”

For more information on the NGBS or the Home Innovation certification program, visit HomeInnovation.com/Green or call Energy Diagnostics at 219.464.4457.

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