Green Building Goes “Above & Beyond” with NGBS Green+ Badges

Posted March 27, 2021 in Real Estate Trends

Jarud Martin, Clark County WA real estate agent

With people spending more time in their homes now there is a new interest in how a home can be designed and built with concepts of health, aging, and energy use in mind. The National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is a green building certification process that takes a holistic approach to building in a range of categories involving energy use, water conservation, indoor air quality, universal design, and home resilience. Builders and homeowners can focus on certain areas of green building by going above and beyond code to achieve verification badges in the categories of their choice.

Urban NW Homes is the first in the country to deploy some of these badges in our new model home at the Urban Downs community in Ridgefield. For our model home, we chose the Wellness and Universal Design NGBS Green+ badges, as well as a Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready certification and EPA Indoor airPlus certification. We also chose water-saving elements and products in line with the EPA WaterSense guidelines.

We chose the NGBS Green+ Wellness badge because of how pandemic times have made many people more aware of their health and they are now wanting improved health inside their homes. Though we’re already experienced with building to NGBS certifications, this has been a great time to really dive deeper into the Wellness badge. The badge involves more than just reducing VOCs but also a more holistic approach to improving the home environment in terms of humidity, moisture, light, sound, and access to nature.

Universal Design is the other badge we chose for our model home, which provides flexibility for aging and abilities of residents to have full use and enjoyment of the home they live in now and over time. This design badge takes into account ADA requirements such as wider doorways, curbless entries, and barrier-free showers. During construction we install wood blocks into the walls for future installation of grab bars. With these universal building practices, our homes won’t require expensive and intrusive remodeling for aging or unexpected changes to mobility such as chronic illness or sports injuries. Universal design practices are also beneficial to preventing unfortunate trip and fall injuries for household residents of any age as well as visiting guests, making the home accessible to everyone. These design elements can blend in with the overall contemporary beauty of the home without looking stark and institutional.

Outside of NGBS badges, our model home has a Department of Energy Zero Energy certification. We did that so that the model home was built with techniques to comply with the new energy code. It also comes with amenities like electric car charging stations, LED lighting, as well as forethought design for future solar panel installation. The other certification we chose for the model home is the EPA Indoor airPlus, which complements the NGBS Wellness badge by looking at equipment, materials, sealants, adhesives and other building products, which all have to perform at low or no VOCs for heathier air. While we didn’t pursue the EPA water conservation certification for this build, we did incorporate products and elements in line with this program, such as recirculation loops and low flow fixtures which provide a better use of water and cost savings beyond a home built only to code.

Overall, we built the model home with indoor health in mind as well as flexibility to age gracefully without remodeling. This also saves costs down the road as well as increases resale value. Also, since you won’t have to remodel in the future you can keep a lot of waste out of the landfills, which is a little known benefit.

We built this model home with these badges and certifications so that people can experience what a home built to these higher standards is really like. Our model home is the first house ever to employ the Universal Design NGBS Green+ badge, as well as the first home in Washington to implement the Wellness badge.  Along with the green building codes, this model also showcases other unique features and amenities worth seeing, such as an outdoor entertaining space with a built in barbecue. We invite visitors to come check out this thoughtful design for easy living and aging in place by making an appointment for a private model home tour at Urban Downs. Give us a call or email us at to set this up and get notified for upcoming homes for sale in the community.