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Understanding Green Building Organizations

Regulations & Organizations

Green Building Links

Regulations & Organizations

There are several Green Building programs throughout the United States, particularly on the local and state level, but currently three national programs appear to be the most popular.  They are the U. S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Guidelines and the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes program.  



LEED is a building rating system that requires the use of a consultant to help rate a building project for one of four levels of certification (Platinum, Gold, Silver or Certified).  LEED offers programs in several areas of building, both commercial and residential.  Rating systems & guidelines can be downloaded from www.usgbc.org .

LEED Credits – Under the LEED-NC for New Construction and Major Renovations
Credit 4.1 Low Emitting Materials under the Indoor Environmental Quality Credit (Must pass the VOC limits of California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule #1169) – 1 Point if all comply

Credit 5.1  Regional Materials under the Local/Regional Materials Credit
(Must have at least 20% of building materials and products manufactured within 500 miles of building or component assembly) – 1 Point

Cities within 500 miles of Columbus, Ohio (which is within a 500-mile radius of 50% of the U.S. population): 




The NAHB has also published a set of guidelines that builders, home building associations (HBAs) and project managers can use to apply green concepts to residential construction projects.  It also works on a point rated system (Gold, Silver and Bronze) and provides a voluntary and affordable option for the mainstream homebuilder.  The NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines can be downloaded at www.nahb.org .

NAHB Credits Under the Model Green Home Building Guidelines
Credit 7.1.3  Use of Low VOC Sealants and Adhesives
(Must comply with California Air Resources Board Consumer Product VOC limits) – 5 points if all comply 


GBI/Green Globes

The Green Building Initiative (GBI), established by the NAHB, has adopted a popular Canadian Green Building program for commercial construction, called Green Globes.  This program is currently the only interactive web-based green building rating tool for conducting environmental assessments of a building project.  It is gaining popularity in the residential arena as well. 

Below is a summary of LEED, NAHB & Green Globes guidelines as it relates to adhesives.  For complete guidelines, visit their respective sites for a downloadable version.  


Green Globes Credits Under Draft Standard for Green Globes Design

Credit E1: Resources, Building Materials and Solid Waste – Get 10 points if a life cycle analysis of the product has been conducted in accordance with BEES or ATHENA software.

Credit E2.2: Recycled Post-Consumer or Post-Industrial Content – Get up to 10 points if 1-20% of materials contain recycled content.

Credit E2.3: Biobased Products – Get up to 5 points if 1-20% of materials are biobased. 

Credit G2.1: Mold Resistant – Get 1 point if mold resistant materials are specified.  Must pass ASTM G21.

Credit G2.9: Low-VOC emitting materials – Get 2 points if construction adhesives have less than 15% by weight VOC (200 g/L).  Get 2 points of caulks and sealants have less than 4% by weight VOC (60 g/L).  Must be third party certified.  



In addition to the green building organizations, states also have regulations for VOCs.  The following states currently have regulations in place for consumer good products (16 oz or less):

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Washington, DC
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island

Below is a chart that can be used as a benchmark for green adhesives for consumer products (less than 16oz).  Of course, the lower the VOCs in a product, the safer your environment becomes. 

 Product Category

 VOC% by weight

   VOC g/L   

Construction, Panel, & Floor Covering



Construction, Panel, & Floor Covering (CA ONLY '09)



Caulks & Sealants



General Purpose Adhesives



Contact Cements (General Purpose) - includes 1 gallon



Contact Cements (Special Purpose) - includes 1 gallon




Green Building Links

Education and information are key when building green. Listed below are some excellent resources for green building products, regulations and information.

US Green Building Council (USGBC)

The U.S. Green Building Council has created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ to outline sustainable building practices. 


National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB)

The National Association of Home Builders is a trade association that helps promote the policies that make housing a national priority. They have written the NAHB's Model Green Home Building Guidelines for sustainable building. 


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Information on energy conservation, indoor air quality, health & safety issues. 


Green Building.com


Building Green.com

GreenSpec Directory & Building Green Products publications. Third-party product testing & listings in all building categories.


Green Building Initiative (GBI)

Developed the Green Globes™ system. The Green Globes system is a revolutionary green management tool that includes an assessment protocol, rating system and guide for integrating environmentally friendly design into commercial buildings. 


Environmental Design & Construction Magazine (ED+C)


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