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New Codes Means New Checklists!

Posted on Nov 20, 2020 in:
  • Built Green News

Author: Sonja O'Claire, Built Green Program Manager

Updated January 29, 2021.

Since February, the Built Green team has been meeting with our executive committee and numerous community stakeholders to update its signature checklists—the Single-Family/Townhome New Construction checklist (SF checklist) and the Multifamily New Construction checklist (MF checklist). The team is finally ready to share the last nine months of work that have culminated into a completely updated 2021 Single-Family/Townhome New Construction checklist! We are still deep in the process of updating the energy section of the Multifamily New Construction checklist and look forward to sharing those details in the coming months.

Why are we updating these checklists now?

Our main goal with our checklists is for Built Green homes to perform better than code and reward our designers and builders for this voluntary accomplishment. Checklist updates are primarily influenced by code changes, technological advancements in the building industry, new products that hit the market, and housing market trends. As checklist updates evolve throughout the years, 4-Star projects from older checklists are not the same as 4-Star projects under the new updated checklists. The changes represented in the 2018 Washington State Energy Code (WSEC) represent a significant change to the industry and to standard building practices. Many have been asking how the new energy code will affect Built Green and its checklist, and how Built Green is staying current. Read on to get all the answers.

Preview of the new Equity and Social Justice section of the Built Green 2021 Single-Famly/Townhome New Construction Checklist

What are the some of the changes you can expect to see in the 2021 checklist updates?

There are two checklist updates that are planned to go into effect on February 1, 2021. The first is a full checklist update of the Single-Family/Townhome New Construction checklist. Below are some of the notable changes you can expect to see in the 2021 SF Checklist:

  • New Equity and Social Justice credit section
  • Simplified performance and prescriptive pathways for energy performance and water conservation, with increased quality control and assurance
  • Increased value for deconstruction and salvaged materials
  • Combined comingled and source-separation recycling point allowances
  • Embodied carbon credits
  • Removal of outdated or code-required practices

What has not changed:

  • Point requirements per sections 2-5 and total points for each Star level
  • Housing size multipliers
  • Credit item alignment with local green building incentives and rebates

The second checklist update our team has undertaken is on the Multifamily New Construction checklist to address changes in the 2018 WSEC. Similar to the SF checklist update, our team aims to offer builders simplified performance and prescriptive pathways for energy performance, with increased quality control and assurance. These updates are still in progress and will be announced in the coming months.

BDR Sonata transit-oriented apartment building adjacent to light rail, photo credit Heiser Media

Photo credit: Heiser Media

Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County Built Green 4-Star Sammamish Cottage Community

When do the new Built Green checklists take effect?

Both checklists will have enrollment deadlines in which any project enrolled after that date must use the updated checklist. The new checklists for both Single-Family and Multifamily New Construction will coincide with the 2018 WSEC going into effect on Feb 1. All projects permitted under the 2018 WSEC will be required to use the 2021 checklists. Projects currently permitted under the 2015 WSEC will be required to use the current 2017 or 2018 version of the new construction checklists. Our 2021 Single Family checklist is now available for download and piloting so designers and builders have time to look this over, get comfortable with these updates, and ask any lingering questions you may have. Enrollment Certification deadlines, along with important dates, are as follows:

  • 2021 Single-Family/Townhome checklist effective date: Feb. 1, 2021
  • 2021 Multifamily checklist effective date: Feb. 1, 2021
  • 2018 WSEC goes into effect: Feb. 1, 2021

Again, all projects enrolled with Built Green after these dates will have to use the updated 2021 checklists! Again, the checklist version a project is required to use is determined by the WSEC it was permitted under, not enrollment date.

Certification deadlines have also been set to ensure that projects are certified under the relevant checklist. Certification deadlines are as follows:

  • Single-Family/Townhome checklist certification packet due date: Feb. 1, 20222023
  • Multifamily checklist certification packet due date: Feb. 1, 20232024

Certifications submitted after these dates will have to use the updated checklists, irrespective of their enrollment date. For further questions about this, contact Built Green Program Manager Sonja O’Claire. Built Green will be sending out plenty of reminders before these deadlines are in effect. Please keep a lookout for these important reminders!

How did we determine what to update?

The Built Green team put out the call to our members for feedback and consulted many Washington state green building industry experts, policy makers, and community stakeholders to help us research key sections and give expert opinions. Multiple rounds of feedback provided us the insight we needed to create an even more robust set of checklists for our members, that reflects their contribution to shifting the housing market.

To update the SF checklist, we collaborated with city and county representatives, experienced green builders, Built Green verifiers, energy modelers, and social equity experts. These representatives gave us their expert opinions on how to smoothly incorporate new credit items and what changes needed to be made to current credits. This team worked incredibly hard to help the Built Green team update this checklist in its entirety. We are also thankful for the builders and verifiers who will also be involved throughout the winter to pilot the new SF checklist before its official launch in February 2021.

Since the Multifamily checklist update primarily focuses on updating energy requirements and adding new equity and embodied carbon credits similar to the Single-Family checklist, the Built Green team has teamed up with Built Green third-party verifiers and energy modeling experts from various parts of Washington state to make sure our new energy modeling pathway coincides with the 2018 WSEC and that builders can model this section statewide.

Build LLC Built Green 4-Star building with green wall, photo credit Andrew van Leeuwen

Photo credit: Andrew van Leeuwen

Lopez Community Land Trust Built Green Salish Way Cottages

What if you need clarification on a new credit item?

That is what the Built Green handbooks are for; those are also being updated to match the new checklists. The Single-Family/Townhome handbook will come out in two phases. The unchanged credits and portions of the handbook—and the new Equity and Social Justice section, Energy section, and embodied carbon credits—will be published February 1. The remaining handbook sections and any clarifications revealed during piloting will be published in the final SF handbook by June 2021. The Multifamily Energy section handbook will be updated and available soon after the checklist goes into effect. Both handbooks will be available online, for free, as a PDF. Please discuss these updates with your Built Green verifier, as it’s important to understand these changes and deadlines.

We know changes to our checklists can be confusing and, at times, frustrating. Don’t worry! Built Green staff and your Built Green verifiers are available if you have questions, so don’t hesitate to reach out. We are also developing classes throughout 2021 to help you understand some of the newer concepts and how they can be implemented on your projects.

Thank you all for your continued support with the Built Green program! We’re excited to show you these updates.


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