Green Building Standards

The building industry in North America currently utilizes a number of green building rating systems. These rating systems focus on providing a measurable way to quantify green building practices. This is an overview of those standards and how electric fireplaces fit in.

Program How do electric fireplaces fit in?
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Electric fireplaces can assist a new home to qualify for 2 points towards LEED certification as they are seen as being equal to having no fireplace in the home. An electric fireplace does not reduce indoor air quality or burn fuel, therefore it is not considered a fireplace for LEED purposes.
National Green Building Standard (ICC-700) While electric fireplaces are not included in the existing ICC-700 standard, Dimplex has submitted an application to have electric fireplaces included in the next revision. It has been proposed that electric fireplaces are equal to having no fireplace in the home because they do not reduce indoor air quality or burn fuel to produce the flame effect and therefore should earn a total of 7 points.
International Green Construction Code (IGCC) Electric fireplaces are not restricted by the IGCC since they do not reduce the indoor air quality or burn fuel to produce the flame effect. All energy used within the building, including appliances plugged into a 110/120V receptacle will be included in the building’s energy assessment, therefore electric fireplaces that use minimal energy are preferred.
Energy Star-Qualified New Homes The Energy Star program looks for products that will make a home substantially more energy efficient than homes that are built to the minimum code requirements. Electric fireplaces are 100% efficient. They do not use combustion to produce the flame, there are no air-pollutants emitted either inside or outside the dwelling and no moisture is introduced into the indoor environment. Electric fireplaces allow the home owner to conserve energy by zone heating since they provide supplemental heat. It’s greener to warm a single room, than to turn up a central heating thermostat.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

What is LEED?

LEED is a third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000, LEED serves as a tool for buildings of all types and sizes. It has been championed in Canada by the Canada Green Building Council since 2002. LEED certification offers third party validation of a project’s green features and verifies that the building is operating exactly the way it was designed to.

How does it work?

Building criteria. Within each of the LEED credit categories, projects must satisfy particular prerequisites and earn points. Currently there are 4 different certification levels that can be obtained by a builder:

  • Certified 40–49 points
  • Silver 50–59 points
  • Gold 60–79 points
  • Platinum 80 points and above

National Green Building Standard (ICC-700)

What is ICC-700?

Recognizable standard definition of green building. The standard (ICC-700) defines green building practices for single and multifamily homes, residential remodeling projects, and site development projects.

How does it work?

The National Green Building Standard is a point-based system endorsed by the National Association of Home Builders in the U.S., where projects earn points for meeting specific green building criteria. In order to attain a higher level of green certification, a home must accrue successively higher levels of minimum points in every category – the highest level of certification is dictated by the lowest category score level. The following tables highlight the point values required in each area for green buildings:

Green Building Categories Performance Point Levels
Bronze Silver Gold Emerald
1 ch 5: Lot Design, Preparation & Development 39 66 93 119
2 ch 6: Resource Efficiency 45 79 113 146
3 ch 7: Energy Efficiency 30 60 100 120
4 ch 8: Water Efficiency 14 26 41 60
5 ch 9: Indoor Environmental Quality 36 65 100 140
6 ch 10: Operation, Maintenance & Building Owner Education 8 10 11 12
7 Additional Points from any category 50 100 100 100
Total Points 222 406 558 697

International Green Construction Code (IGCC)

What is IGCC?

The IGCC is the first model code to include sustainability measures for the entire construction project and its site — from design through construction, certificate of occupancy and beyond. The new code is expected to make buildings more efficient, reduce waste, and have a positive impact on health, safety and community welfare.

The IGCC creates a regulatory framework for new and existing buildings, establishing minimum green requirements for buildings and complementing voluntary rating systems, which may extend beyond baseline of the IGCC. The code acts as an overlay to the existing set of International Codes, including provisions of the International Energy Conservation Code and ICC-700, the National Green Building Standard, and incorporates ASHRAE Standard 189.1 as an alternate path to compliance.

How does it work?

The IGCC was released in March 2012 and all states were expected to update their building codes within 2 years.

Energy Star – Qualified New Homes

What is Energy Star?

Home means that it is independently verified to be at least 15% more efficient than homes built to the International Energy Conservation Code.

How does it work?

To earn the Energy Star certification, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making them at least 15% more efficient than standard homes. Homes achieve this level of performance through a combination of energy–efficient improvements. To ensure that a home meets Energy Star’s guidelines, third–party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater (or equivalent) is required.