The U.S. National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) reports that usage of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) grew from 2011 to 2013. Among builders of single-family homes, the number using the NGBS grew from 21 per cent to 30 per cent.

Among builders who focus on green construction, which means more than 30 per cent of their work is green construction, nearly 50 per cent use the NGBS. LEED, in comparison, was used by 13 per cent of single-family builders. The survey was conducted by McGraw Hill Construction’s data and analytics team of a set of NAHB single-family and multi-family members in 2013.

The picture is reversed with multi-family homes. The NAHB survey indicates that 32 per cent of multi-family builders used LEED for Homes, and 16 per cent used LEED for Neighbourhood Development. Just 13 per cent of multi-family firms used the NGBS.

Since its launch in 2009, 37,895 projects have received NGBS certification. Units in process total nearly 75,000.

The NGBS was developed by the NAHB and the International Code Council and first published in 2009, with an update published in 2012. The standard was the first residential green building rating system to receive approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is independent of NAHB. Certification for NGBS projects is provided by Home Innovation Research Labs, an accredited third-party certification agency.

Some builders and certifiers say that, though similar to LEED, NGBS is a bit easier to use, and is cheaper.

Kim Hibbs, a custom homebuilder in St. Louis, Missouri, wrote in his blog, “NGBS is created specifically for residential building and is less expensive than LEED. The NGBS is also distinct in that it requires a homeowner education component that is very important for the ongoing efficiency and maintenance of the home.”

The NAHB is a trade association that represents members in many areas of residential and light commercial construction, including building, remodeling, finance, design, subcontracting, and property management.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC), which developed the LEED standard, has certified more than 50,000 residential units in the US since its launch in 2007. The USGBC estimates that more than 150,000 residential units have been LEED certified worldwide and says that LEED is the most-used residential green building standard in the world.

Australia’s Green Star rating tool, in comparison, focuses strongly on commercial buildings, with minimal emphasis on residential buildings. In its 12 years of existence, Green Star has certified more than 640 projects, with 28 classified as multi-unit residential projects. In 2013, 105 Green Star projects were certified, six of which were multi-use residential.