These non-profits and local agencies work tirelessly to protect the environment and provide us with green resources.  A passionate familiarity with these sites is one of the ways we keep abreast with the latest trends and innovations.  Browse these entities for ideas from everything from sustainable lumber to programs that reward reduced water use.

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Green Building Non-Profits

Build It Green
Build It Green is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote healthy, energy- and resource-efficient building practices in California. They work with mainstream stakeholders in the housing industry to accelerate the adoption of green building practices throughout California.
Build it Green is leading the green education, certification (Certified Green Building Professional) and promotion.  Thanks to their Green Point Rated program,the leading green home rating system in the state.  While Green Point Rated has been rating new green homes in northern California for years, they are now growing into southern California and are the first rating system in the country to have an independent platform for rating green remodels of existing homes.  Fantastic resource, great people.  Advised by Marc Richmond, from Practica Consulting and David Johnston, What’s Working.
Earth Bound Homes currently has the highest rated Green Point Rated home ever tested (Bluebird Residence – 309 points). As of 2010, with the addition of the Sun residence (272 points) and the Kaneda Residence(265 points), we have the three highest homes ever rated by Green Point Rated. When the Mekechuk (~340pts.) and the Riordan (~290pts.) residences are completed, we will have the top five houses ever rated.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
The FSC Principles and Criteria describe how the forests have to be managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. They include managerial aspects as well as environmental and social requirements. In fact, FSC rules are the strictest and have the highest social and environmental requirements of any forest conservation program in the world.
The FSC is truly the standard bearer for environmentally responsible forestry practices in the world.  Rules for certification include rights for indigenous peoples, complete conservation of forest ecosystems and truly sustainable lumber harvest plans.  All green building rating systems throughout the nation specifically reference FSC certification exclusively as certification by industry sponsored certification systems like Sustainable Forestry Initiative(SFI), have significant deficiencies in their rules by which their environmental claims are significantly overstated and deceptive.
Earth Bound Homes only buys FSC certified lumber, except in the case of engineered lumber products.  Depending on the species and the type of lumber or lumber product, this lumber is 10-30% more expensive than comparable, non-FSC certified lumber from clear cut forests.

Building Green 
BuildingGreen is an independent publishing company committed to bringing its subscribers accurate, unbiased, and timely green design information.  BuildingGreen brings the best research, thinking, and writing to you through many publications, including Environmental Building News, the GreenSpec directory of green products, and the BuildingGreen Suite of online tools.
A subscription based service at $200/year that allows the subscriber access to GreenSpec listings of environmental Preferable products.  This is the gold standard for green ratings of building materials and any material that does garner the attention of BuildingGreen can be considered a deep, dark green material.  Very high, unbiased standards, an incredibly deep understanding of what makes green better makes this site and this organization the place to go for information about building better homes.  This magazine keeps a steady finger on the pulse of the markets as well as the governmental regulations and trends.

The Green Building Initiative
The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings by promoting credible and practical green building approaches for residential and commercial construction.
They use environmental assessment and rating tools to increase large mainstream builders and developers throughout the nation to start building green.  They are not focused on custom homes, small builders or the leading edge of green.  Prefer market driven approaches to regulatory ones.  There is no GBI efforts in California in the residential market though does list incentives and rebates for green building efforts in the state through its DSIRE incentives database.

Built Green 
Colorado’s green home building program.  One of the oldest industry driven programs in the nation, this web site  describes how green, efficient homes are built in the harsh Rocky Mountain environment.  Focused on trying “to encourage homebuilders to adopt green technologies, products and practices that result in homes that are better built and better for the environment.”
Built Green, like California’s Build It Green, is a non-profit that collaborates with large and small builders, industry and state and local governments to encourage green homes through a locally relevant Built Green green home rating checklist and certification program, similar to Build It Green’s Green Point Rated.  Has a 1.5 day training, called Built Green University, to train builders, designers and architects on the technical know how required to submit a project for Build Green certification. 

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Southface promotes the transformation of the marketplace for sustainable practices and includes amongst it’s public educational programs: EarthCraft House Certification ( and GreenPrints, a trade conference for architects, city planners and builders focusing on designing sustainable communities.

Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB)
CARB is a team of designers, home builders, and product manufacturers who have joined the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program to increase the productivity and profit of the U.S. residential building industry by constructing houses that are of higher quality, are more affordable, more comfortable, and energy- and resource-efficient. CARB is building a series of attached and detached prototype houses and housing developments to test these goals in the marketplace.
By analyzing the acceptance of green building options in the new home market, CARB is using field testing in residential developments to determine the most cost effective and acceptable methods of increasing the efficiency and sustainability of homes.  The goal is 100% penetration of Zero-energy home technology by 2020.

Building Industry Research Alliance (BIRA)
Building Industry Research Alliance (BIRA) is a diverse coalition of over eighty industry partners committed to improving energy and resource efficiency in residential housing for the Department of Energy's Building America Program (BAP). The goal of BAP is to build marketable, cost-effective Net Zero Energy Homes across the country by 2020. BIRA, one of the six DOE teams, is led by California based energy consultant ConSol.  BIRA works with innovative home builders to combine solar energy systems with highly energy efficient designs, construction practices and technologies to produce homes on a community scale.
BIRA is largely focused on revolutionizing large builder and developer standard operating procedures throughout the country by collaborating with Western builders to produce green developments,  largely located in California.  By analyzing the data not only from cost of production and energy savings, but also through increased sales rates and higher pricing of green homes, BIRA is developing market based motivation for other builders to adopt green building programs.

Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership
Perform cost shared research to reduce the energy cost of housing by 30% to 70% while enhancing indoor air quality, durability, resource efficiency and marketability and assist in the construction of thousands of energy-efficient industrialized houses annually and commercialize innovations.
Web site contains an enormous amount of test data and an incredible amount of information about case studies.  If you are looking to find out what made big differences in the amount of energy a certain process changed or how a certain material effected the sales of a green home vs a non-green home, this is where you should visit.


Building America(US Dept. of  Energy)
Building America forms research partnerships with all facets of the residential building industry to improve the quality and energy efficiency of homes. The goal is to develop cost effective solutions that reduce the average energy use of housing by 40% to 100%. Ultimately, Building America research will lead to net zero energy homes, which produce as much energy as they use.   The research programs are in collaboration with the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings(CARB).
With a focus similar to PATH (see below), Building America is where the applied science of green building happens.   The most important element of their focus is that they are working with green building strategies that will not increase the cost of building homes.  While this is great in that it lowers the potential barriers to adaptation by the mainstream building establishment, it is also fantastically restrictive.  One could easily argue that in order to stop global warming, we need to make significant changes to the way we build homes, whether or not they are cost neutral.  Additionally, is it realistic to assume that we can build zero energy homes just by making changes that don’t increase the cost of a home. 

United States Green Building Council (USGBC)
It’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) green building ratings system is more commonly known that the USGBC, but it continues to be the leading green building organization in the nation.  It has until recently been organized strictly for the commercial building sector but with the rollout of LEED for Homes (LEED-H), the USGBC is trying to make a significant impact on all building throughout the nation.  The greatest impediments to nationwide implementation of LEED-H is the substantial costs(~$10,000 per home for custom homes), lack of a remodeling platform, oppressive paperwork burden and the extremely high qualification threshold.  Regional green building rating systems(like California’s Build it Green Green Point Rated) have greater penetration into the residential market.
Web site is abundant resource for information about the LEED rating systems, especially with respect to commercial buildings, though most information is more about correctly filing paperwork for LEED than it is about defining or informing the reader about green building issues, emerging technology or advocacy.

Energy Star
Description of Energy Star Program, including levels, guidelines, statistics and searchable databases of Energy Star Certified homes and buildings and participating builders. 
While Energy Star is easily the most well known of the Energy efficiency standards, the low efficiency levels these standards are placed at is not commensurate with the much more stringent levels capable of being produced by our current technology.   

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Main governmental resource defining the laws and regulations for protecting the environment including air, water and land pollution, governmental programs, current research and resources for mitigation strategies.
The US EPA is the resource for information and resources about clean air and water testing and current research in the areas of ecology, global climate change and human health.  Additionally, while not generally considered a governmental entity advocating for green building, the US EPA has recently supported education activities devoted to decreasing waste production through educational resources and a Lifecycle Building Challenge competition.  This competition focuses on developing innovative designs that minimize waste, reuse materials and cut green house gas emissions by increasing a buildings usable lifespan by allowing non destructive remodeling activities to occur in the house without significant production of building or remodeling related construction demolition debris production.

City of San Jose
Under Mayor Chuck Reed, San Jose is stating its incredibly ambitious “Green Vision”, which, if successful, will be the worldwide standard by which cities should be run.  Included in this 15 year timeline will be:

  • 25,000 green tech jobs created
  • per capita energy reduced by 50%
  • 100% electrical power from renewable sources
  • 50 million sq. ft. of buildings retrofit to be green
  • 100% of waste from landfills diverted 
  • 100% of wastewater recycled
  • all public vehicles will run on alternative fuels
  • 100,000 trees planted
  • 100 miles of interconnected trails created for non-motor vehicle methods of commuting. 

San Jose was one of the first cities in the state and the country to actively take on green building ideals and enact what at the time were tough ordinances to increase recycling and decrease construction demolition debris production.  Unfortunately, their current method of increasing private sector green building within the city is limited to offering some information under the “Green Vision” section of the web site, links to information on other web sites about green building and “provide leadership and guidance to encourage the application of green building practices in private sector planning, design, construction, management, renovation, operations, and demolition of buildings by promoting the voluntary application of the San Jose Green Building Policy goals.”
Offering information about ways residents of San Francisco can care for their homes, the city and the planet.  Covers city’s recycling, pollution prevention and energy conservation programs and policies, grants, meeting, events and task forces, recycling locations and acceptable recycled materials, including appliances, batteries, hazardous waste, Christmas trees, etc.  

Santa Clara Valley Water District
Stream stewardship, wholesale water supply and flood, stream and watershed protection for Santa Clara County, California.  This public agency sells water to all the local city governments.
Fantastic resource for everything you need to know about water conservation, usage, purity, testing, available rebates and programs that pay you to increase the water use efficiency of your home or business.  Great information about just how much water we use in the Bay area and lots of ways to decrease our water usage and qualify for rebates, incentives and discounted water conservation hardware, including weather based irrigation controllers and aerators and faucets.

RecycleWorks County of San Mateo
RecycleWorks, began as tool to teach recycling and composting but has grown to include a Web site for kids and numerous educational tools for students and teachers.  The program that teaches children how they can protect the environment in fun and creative ways has received the state's highest environmental honor, Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
RecycleWorks is similar in program scope and its current advocacy role in green building to the program of Alameda County, CA(below).  Together with its obvious goal of encouraging recycling and providing a fantastic web site overflowing with information about what can be recycled and where in the county recycling can be dropped off, it focuses on increasing education and knowledge of regional resources for energy efficiencies, solar power, rebates and incentives, green building ordinances and educational opportunities, landscaping, air quality and sustainable agriculture.  Additionally, they offer regional green building and green lifestyle talks in their “A Taste and A Talk Series” and are in the process of developing tours of locally green homes as examples of what residents have done to build green.
StopWaste.Org is the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board operating as one public agency.   These agencies are responsible for waste collection and reduction services and recycling services in the Alameda County of California. 
This organization had an integral role in the development of Build It Green’s development and effect on the promotion of green building throughout California.  Through an incredible far reaching and comprehensive plan and subsequent follow through, has taken on the problem of waste management at the source, buildings where most of our waste is produced, and elaborated it to promotion of jobs, sustainability, energy efficiency, education, landscaping, composting, recycling, hazardous waste disposal.  Real world resources(Alameda County only) and information for all the above topics can be found on the web site for both residential and commercial applications.

City of Austin, (Texas) Green Building Program
One of the first green building governmental programs in the nation.  This program showed the rest how to do it right.  Austin, Texas, in the middle of oil country, continues to be one of the greenest cities in the nation.

U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The clearing house for informational resources for homeowners, business owners and anybody who can use information from the government about tax rebates, ways to save money and energy by increasing efficiency of cars, homes, businesses, et.


Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter (Silicon Valley) www
One of the leading environmental stewardship non-profits in the nation. 


Union of Concerned Scientists
Scientific testing, analysis of current testing in the scientific and research literature and unbiased reporting on current commercial technologies having to do with resource conservation, energy efficiency, global warming, clean energy, clean vehicles, nuclear power and nuclear weapons, food and agriculture and invasive species.  An outstanding resource that provides to the layman, clear and concise information about where we are now and where we can be.

Stop Global

Nature Conservancy
Buying land and letting it be.

League of Conservation Voters
Turning environmental values into national priorities.

Natural Resources Defense Council
Nation's most effective environmental action group.