For developers and owners focused on providing efficient, resilient, and healthy buildings, one of the best ways to do this is through advanced design and construction practices. While there are several certifications in the marketplace that emphasize wellness and sustainability, EarthCraft Multifamily is the first multifamily-specific green building program in the U.S. Established in 2003, this certification created an affordable baseline program that provides various opportunities for both market-rate and affordable housing developments, creating high performing buildings with lower economic and environmental impacts.
The EarthCraft Multifamily certification offers benefits ranging from performance and health to sustainability and overall quality. This certification also offers a level of flexibility that is not always available with other programs, allowing support for both new construction and renovation models. This amounts to an impressive multifamily product that can contribute to healthier communities. Below are some of the EarthCraft guidelines that your multifamily project can benefit from.
Preconstruction / Design:
During the early stages of your project, implementing an integrated design approach can be beneficial. This will foster a collaborative environment among the owner, property manager, construction manager, and design team—maximizing available resources and reducing inefficiencies. Establishing project goals, commitments, and certification levels to be attained with the team will ensure that everyone is on the same page before the design progresses. This is also a great time to create a responsibility matrix tied directly to the selected ECMF-Workbook.
This phase is crucial for saving time and money down the road. Ensure that local building codes are incorporated into the design and engage constructability support to consider the cost, schedule, and procurement as it relates to the overall product and equipment selections. The EarthCraft Multifamily workbook requirements, along with any other financing or tax credit and incentive programs the development may include, should guide this entire process.
Collaboration is just as important during the construction phase of the project. Bringing the entire team together, including inspectors assigned to the project and select trade partners performing any scope included in the program requirements, can help ensure everyone has a clear vision of project goals, processes, and expectations.
When planning for construction, it is beneficial to incorporate third party EarthCraft inspection and certification activities into the master schedule. Also consider incorporating any site preparation and/or protection measures into the project specific Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Implementing expanded program education during preparatory and site meetings with select trade partners and suppliers will also ensure that the entire team is on the same page.
A few other considerations during this phase include increasing the quality control photo documentation measures to properly track installation steps and methods applicable to the Workbook selected, as well as ensuring a detailed envelope submittal and mock-up process. This includes testing requirements prior to installation on the actual building.
Timing is important to a successful project closeout. Consider incorporating any specific testing requirements into the overall project duration to ensure that the certification is received after project completion. Also, schedule a detailed project turn-over that includes the building facility maintenance staff to outline specific EarthCraft Multifamily follow-up items and continuing inspection/maintenance protocols. Ultimately, the heightened documentation and organization processes implemented during preconstruction/design and construction should ensure a smooth final checklist and certification process.