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Do green contractors need a green certification?

Certification Basics

A contractor seeking green certification can be certified by many different organizations, and the requirements for achieving these certifications vary. For some, contractors must invest weeks of study and pass a rigorous exam. Other certifications require passing grades from several courses or securing nominations and recommendations.

Below are just a few of the better-known national certifications:

  • National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) - Green Certified Professional (GCP)
  • National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) - Certified Green Professional (CGP)
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) - LEED Professional Credentials
  • Green Advantage (GA) - Green Advantage Certified Practitioner (GACP)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) - Certified Green Contractor

In addition to national certifications, a number of regions around the United States offer certifications for their local contractors.

What do these various certifications mean to a homeowner? One considering specific contractors can research these credentials to see if the contractor's certification pertains to the type of construction that's needed. Then, the homeowner can tell if the contractor has what it takes to design and complete the project. For example, a certification in commercial construction lighting systems may not be much of a match to a homeowner's needs, but home lighting certification would be. The homeowner can also check the certifying body's Web site to be sure the contractor is indeed listed as one of the organization's certified green contractors.

Another way to inspect a contractor's green certification is to research the organization offering that credential. Is the organization well-established, with a long track record of offering certifications? Are the certification requirements lax, or are the certifications hard to achieve and therefore more indicative of commitment? The type of certification your contractor holds can be a helpful clue as to whether or not he's the right one for the project.