Propane Gets You There: The National Green Building Standard


Thinking of building or remodeling your next residential project to the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Standard (NGBS)? Think propane. Building with propane can earn you points in most of the NGBS' categories and can earn you a total of 101 points towards NGBS certification, nearly half of what is needed for the bronze level. The certification program is designed to award residential building projects (including remodeling jobs on homes built prior to 1980) that reach specific benchmarks of energy and resource efficiency.

Here's how you can earn points towards a bronze, silver, gold, or emerald NGBS certification:

Lot Design, Preparation, and Development: 10 Points Total

Installing an underground propane tank to fuel a home is quick and easy. Because of shallow trenching or line boring, soil is exposed for a minimum amount of time earning 5 points towards this category. Because propane tanks can usually be placed just 10 feet from a home, lot disruption is at a minimum and boom trucks can be used to place tanks with little driving on a lot. Utility trenches can also be shared across developments with community propane systems, increasing the ease of lot design and earning 5 points.

Resource Efficiency: 8 Points Total

The 70-percent recycled content of propane tanks can help earn 2 points. Using recycled copper or plastic gas lines earns 1 point. Propane tanks and propane equipment (water heater and/or furnace) that are manufactured in a facility certified by an ISO 14001 can earn 1 to 10 points.

Energy Efficiency: 53 Points Total

Install an energy-efficient propane furnace or boiler (points vary by AFUE percentage) and earn 1 to 17 points. Install a unit that has a temperature rest control or burner delay and earn 1 point. A programmable thermostat installation can also earn 1 point. If you add propane water heating to a home, you can gain 1 or 10 points. Utilize propane space heating that doesn't include ducts and see an additional 15 points. Use a trained HVAC contractor to install these systems and earn 1 point. Propane heating systems that are integrated with programmable communicating thermostats, energy monitoring devices, and energy management control systems earn 2, 4, or 7 points respectively.

Water Efficiency: 3 Points Total

Because of the compact size of tankless water heaters, they often facilitate innovative plumbing systems that shorten water distribution lines and earn 3 points towards NGBS certification.

Indoor Environmental Quality: 20 Points Total

Installing a direct-vented propane furnace or boiler earns 5 points as does installing a direct-vented propane water heater. Propane-fueled, direct-vented fireplaces that are ANSI compliant earn 7 points. Propane-fueled forced air systems that accept a MERV 8 or greater filter earn 3 points.

Operation, Maintenance, and Building Owner Education: 7 Points Total

Providing homeowners with the manufacturer's spec sheets, pointing out the location of safety valves, and supplying safety sheets on the handling of propane can earn 1 point. Giving proper instructions on the use of propane mechanics should be used to train homeowners to operate their home's propane systems and can help earn up to 6 points.
For more information on building to NAHB's National Green Building Standard, enroll in our AIA- and NAHB-approved training course, Go Green with Propane.

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