EPA and Tribal Workgroup Launch Toolkit to Support Tribal Green Building


SAN FRANCISCO – August 18, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its Tribal Green Building Codes Workgroup—which consists of representatives from tribal nations and federal agencies—announced a new toolkit designed to assist tribes to prioritize and implement healthy, green building policies and practices.

Traditional tribal buildings were often informed by cultural values and an intimate knowledge of place. The Tribal Green Building Toolkit supports the integration of tribal ecological knowledge and priorities into building codes and practices. The Toolkit was developed with tribes and may also be useful to other communities working to adopt or update green building codes.

“There is a tremendous need for healthy, green, affordable tribal housing – almost 20% of tribal households spend more than 50% of their income on housing,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This toolkit will help tribes develop affordable green building strategies that can dramatically cut utility costs.”

The Big Sandy Rancheria Band of the Western Mono Indians received EPA green building technical assistance and adopted green building codes in 2014. Unlike state and local governments, tribal nations are not covered by state or local building codes. In many cases, tribes do not have building codes, and consequently, building standards and practices implemented on tribal lands may not meet a tribe’s sustainability objectives.

“The Green Building Codes have helped the Tribe to consistently make sustainable choices not only for new homes, but for even the smallest renovation. Public and environmental health are now in the forefront of every design and decision, from incorporating renewable energy to the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in flooring,” said Jaime Collins, Environmental Programs Manager with Big Sandy Rancheria. “The implementation of the codes continues to increase staff and resident awareness of sustainable building choices and empowers the Tribe to address a variety of environmental and cultural concerns.”

The Toolkit is a detailed “how to” guide with checklists designed to identify tribal land use and building priorities and develop codes, policies and enforcement strategies to support cultural priorities and healthy, green building practices. It covers Land Use, Materials and Resource Conservation, Green Manufactured Housing, Human Health Hazards, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Water Access and Conservation and Resilience and Adaptability.

Other tribes that have worked with EPA on green building code development include: Kayenta Township on the Navajo Nation, the first tribal government to adopt the International Green Construction Code; Pinoleville Pomo Nation, the first tribe to use EPA General Assistance Funding to support building code development; Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Spokane Tribe.

Download the Tribal Green Building Codes Toolkit on EPA’s website at:

More information about the Tribal Green Building Code Development is available at:

Soledad Calvino, 415-972-3512, calvino.maria (at) epa (dot) gov


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

EPA employs 17,000 people across the country, including our headquarters offices in Washington, DC, 10 regional offices, and more than a dozen labs. Our staff are highly educated and technically trained; more than half are engineers, scientists, and policy analysts. In addition, a large number of employees are legal, public affairs, financial, information management and computer specialists.


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