What Are Green Building Standards?

If you want to build a healthier, more sustainable home (or renovate your existing one!), one way you’re sure to get there is by focusing on a particular green building standard — and, trust us, there are plenty out there for you to choose from.

But what exactly do each of these green building standards entail, how do they compare to each other, and which one is best for your home? Let’s take a look!

A green building standard is a certification system that lists specific requirements for improving the performance and reducing the environmental impact of a building. In most cases, a standard and its requirements are established by a government agency or nonprofit organization.

Most green building standards are intended to accomplish a few or all of the following within a home:

  • Reduce or eliminate consumption of non-renewable energy sources
  • Reduce harmful emissions
  • Reduce ongoing maintenance requirements
  • Tighten the building envelope
  • Increase the use of sustainable materials
  • Improve indoor air quality
  • Improve overall health and comfort levels

From there, it’s plain to see that the overarching goal of most green building standards is similar: to build a healthier home for you and your environment. However, all green building standards differ in one way or another — and those differences shine a light on which standard can provide the healthiest, highest-performing home.

There are many green building standards you could choose to follow. Below, we’ve listed just five of the most common with brief descriptions.

  • Passive House homes are designed to work with their surrounding environment, reducing the need for additional energy. Passive House homes take the most comprehensive approach to building health, longevity, and efficiency. We’ll elaborate on why they’re so great in the next section.
  • Net-Zero homes are designed to generate as much energy as they use with renewable energy sources and advanced construction techniques.
  • LEED homes focus on various green building aspects — from energy efficiency to sustainable site location, indoor air quality, and more.
  • ENERGY STAR homes prioritize energy efficiency, especially through the use of energy-efficient fixtures and appliances.
  • Living Building homes take a regenerative approach, connecting occupants with nature and promoting self-sufficiency by remaining within their locations’ resource limitations.

If you want a healthy, high-performing home, Passive House is the way to build. While other green building standards have well-intended goals for energy efficiency and performance, they are fundamentally flawed in their approaches.

Passive House relies on a few main building science principles to create some of the healthiest, highest-performing, most comfortable homes out there. Those principles include:

  • Airtight construction
  • Thermal comfort and intentional insulation
  • High-performing windows and doors
  • Low heating and cooling demands

When you bring all these principles together, you can achieve a highly efficient home that also provides great indoor air quality and comfort. You’re not sacrificing some critical aspects to accommodate others. Instead, you have a space that prioritizes all the important parts of a healthy home — for both you and your environment.

That’s why Tectonic is a Certified Passive House Builder!

No! For some homeowners, meeting all the requirements for Passive House or a different green building standard just isn’t feasible — and that’s okay. There’s no “correct” or “perfect” way to build or renovate sustainably. What matters most is that you do the best you can with the tools and techniques available to you, and that you reduce your impact as much as possible.

Perhaps this means you choose to reduce your construction waste by deconstructing instead of demolishing it. Perhaps this means you’ll prioritize a more timeless design, so your home won’t require resource-heavy updates for several years. Or maybe you’ll just decide to follow a few Passive House principles. Any way you slice it, you’re being more intentional about your footprint, and you’re building a healthier, higher-performing, more rewarding home.

Interested in configuring your home to meet Passive House or other green building standard requirements? Choose Tectonic Design Build. We’re experts in healthy home builds and remodels, and our thoughtful design-build process can help us achieve the new aesthetic, functionality, and efficiency you’re looking for. Get started today by contacting us online.