The Certification Landscape

Certifications and ratings are available for homes, professionals, and many types of products and building materials. But it’s important to look beyond the label and recognize what aspects of greenness the certification judges. When discussing the pros and cons of certification with your clients and customers, consider these key points:

  • Some certifications and ratings cover the whole house and others focus on specific areas, such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality, or water use. What is being certified—a home, company, product, manufacturing process?
  • Is the evaluation process conducted by self-reporting or does a third-party rater examine the property? Certifications and ratings that must be verified by an evaluator generally ensure greater accuracy of information about the property.
  • For a particular market, a regional or local certification may have more meaning than a national one.
  • A house that lacks certification can still be very green. A documented certification, however, provides a powerful signal to the marketplace. Third-party certification is the best evidence that a home meets green standards.
  • Leading national production builders have completed a large enough volume of certified green homes that they can now deliver basic level green certifications at competitive prices. Higher grade levels of certification, like LEED gold or platinum, can command price premiums.
  • It is possible to get lost “chasing points” for certification and miss opportunities for easy, low-cost green features and upgrades.
  • If a home, appliance, or product received a certification several years ago, there’s no guarantee that it is still performing at that level—current documentation is critical.
  • The use of certified materials or appliances in a home does not constitute a whole-house rating. A few Energy Star appliances do not constitute an Energy Star home.
  • Certified green homes consistently sell faster and closer to list price than non-certified homes.

Whole Home and Building Professional Certifications

  • NAHB Research Center Green CertifiedTM
  • U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
  • U.S. Department of Energy and Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Energy Star

Energy Efficiency Ratings and Professionals

  • Residential Energy Services Network, Home Energy Rating System (HERS®)
  • Department of Energy, Home Energy Score


  • U.S. Department of Energy and Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Energy Star
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Energy Guide