With the green movement in full effect in the home improvement and building industries, many people are going green without fully understanding the environmentally friendly rules and regulations that are out there. With that in mind, let’s go over a few of the organizations (both government and private) that regulate the standards of what is truly considered “green building”.
United States Green Building Council (USGBC)
We’re going to first start off with arguably the most important green building regulator in the U.S., the USGBC. The USGBC was founded in 1993 not as a government agency, but rather a non-profit trade organization. It pioneered what is known as LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The LEED building certification is not mandatory everywhere, however there are many cities within the U.S. that have made it mandatory. Home builders and contractors alike must show proof to the city that they are, indeed, LEED certified. The LEED system currently evaluates commercial interiors, schools, existing buildings, core and shell, new construction, and retail venues in order to give them a LEED certification rating.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA is an agency of the U.S. federal government tasked with enforcing environmental protection laws that have been passed by Congress. President Richard Nixon founded the EPA in 1970 and it is currently the oldest official environmental agency in the United States. A major component in the EPA’s green building initiative is what’s known as Energy Star. Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient products. Energy Star products generally use about 20%-30% less energy than their standard counterparts. The EPA formed the Green Building Workgroup in July 2003 to consolidate all the green agencies and departments together to form coordinated effort to define what is truly considered green construction and green building materials.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international organization founded in 1993 and tasked with making sure the world’s forests are being used in a responsible manner for wood building materials. Materials include garage doors, fences, cabinets, hardwood flooring, and much more. The FSC is particularly concerned with deforestation in parts of the world that once had massive rainforest and tree populations. The FSC has ten principals and fifty-six associated criteria that loggers must adhere to in order to be Forest Stewardship certified. Although joining the FSC is not mandatory, it does look great to eco-conscious consumers who fear massive deforestation.
There are many other organizations out there that regulate the green building industry, but the three listed above are undoubtedly the most important. Make sure to do your research on companies who claim to be “green” before you buy.