GreenPoint Rated Goes National: What Multifamily Developers Need to Know

GreenPoint Rated (GPR) is a third-party rating system for healthy, energy-, and resource-efficient homes. GPR began in California and is the state’s leading residential green building rating system with over 73,500 rated homes. Only in 2020 has it officially spread nationwide and is now an option for new multifamily developments across the country.

Build It Green, the organization that administers GreenPoint Rated, has yet to release a national green standards comparison. While that will provide a comprehensive look at GPR’s new nationwide rating system for new multifamily developments, here we will cover a high-level take on GPR and where it may be best for developers to consider it. To get developers across the country up to speed, we’re outlining how GPR requirements, process, and value compare to other rating systems, mainly LEED for Homes, so you can decide which will work best for your new multifamily project in California and beyond. Dive into these three key areas for consideration when evaluating your residential green building rating system options:

FLEXIBILITY
With over 150 measures to choose from, you get to truly pick and choose your path with GPR. Unlike in LEED for Homes, GPR measures are not lumped into credits that can be more difficult to achieve as a group. As long as you achieve a minimum of 50 points across GPR’s five categories (energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, resource conservation, and livable communities), which includes a whopping 25 points from energy efficiency prerequisites, you’re good to go. This a la carte approach makes it easier to apply the same GPR measures across all projects in your portfolio, which can be difficult in a more complex rating system like LEED for Homes.

The one very rigid aspect of GPR is that it is strictly for residential developments. If you’re developing a mixed-use space with apartments over ground floor retail, you won’t be able to certify your non-residential space with GPR (though if your non-residential space outperforms the energy code, there will be additional GPR points available for your residential space). Programs like LEED and WELL both offer more flexibility, as they have rating systems for both residential and commercial spaces.

CERTIFICATION PROCESS
GPR’s straightforward process is one of its main benefits to developers. There are very few mandatory measures and far less required documentation compared to LEED for Homes because GreenPoint Raters go on site to verify compliance through pictures, avoiding LEED for Homes’ lengthier process of tracking down product data and submittals.

Through the process of getting GPR certified, GPR projects in California also fulfill CALGreen compliance. Every time a new California code is released, a new version of GPR is released to match it, ensuring projects meet not only the ICC 700 national green building standard, but also stricter local code. This may be true for code compliance in other states as well, though Build It Green has not outlined anything about alignment with other state codes yet.

PRICING AND VALUE
GPR affords developers the greatest benefit through its pricing. GPR certification costs less than LEED for Homes and is based on number of units rather than square footage. In addition, consultant costs can be cheaper by as much as 50 percent; GPR projects require only a GreenPoint Rater to get certified, whereas LEED for Homes projects require a LEED Provider, LEED Rater, and LEED Consultant, which significantly add to the administrative costs for certification.

GPR is especially great for affordable family developers because of its low barrier to entry and additional state and federal funding streams such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and most recently, Fannie Mae’s Multifamily Green Financing, Freddie Mac’s Green Advantage, and LIIF Community Capital and Grants for Green Facilities products where properties can be eligible for preferential pricing.

While GPR certainly has LEED for Homes beat on pricing, the name recognition of LEED is undeniable, which can lend itself to stronger marketing value. That didn’t stop Natalie Gubb Commons, a GPR Platinum affordable housing development in San Francisco’s East Cut neighborhood, from being featured in the New York Times, but the reality is LEED currently has much better brand recognition and has an even greater marketing edge outside of California where GPR is brand new.

There is no bad choice when looking into residential green building certifications; a UC Berkeley and UCLA collaborative study found that any home with a sustainability certification can sell at nearly 9 percent more than a comparable non-certified home. Whatever you choose, a sustainability certification will add value to your multifamily development, and we are excited that GreenPoint Rated is now another strong option for developers nationwide.

For more information, GreenPoint Raters can learn the differences between the California and National New Home Multifamily systems in this webinar and home developers can explore GPR on Build It Green.

About the Author: Linda Tim (GreenPoint Rater, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador) managed the GreenPoint Rated (GPR) program at Build It Green for two years and now uses her in-depth knowledge of the certification system to advise design teams on sustainability practices in new multifamily construction projects at stok. In her six years in the sustainable real estate industry, Linda has helped certify over 700 GPR units with over 2,000 more GPR units in the pipeline and has become well-versed in LEED, WELL, and Fitwel certification to deliver energy efficient and healthy buildings to her clients.

Article posted by permission of stok. Original article can be found here: https://stok.com/greenpoint-rated-gpr-national-multifamily.