For 35 years, NTA Inc. has provided design review and inspection services to help RV and park model manufacturers comply with national building and safety codes. 

Now, the Nappanee, Ind.-based consulting engineering firm has taken its design expertise a step further by developing national green building standards for recreational vehicles and park models, according to a news release. 

NTA is a product certification agency accredited by the International Accreditation Service (IAS), a subsidiary of the International Code Council (ICC). 

“We are committed to helping manufacturers reduce negative impacts on the environment through all phases of construction,” said Andy Crisp, NTA’s director of energy services, adding that Cavco Industries Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., has become the first company in the nation to achieve NTA’s green certification for park models produced at its manufacturing plant in Phoenix. 

“We believe everyone wants to build and buy ‘green’ as much as possible. That’s why we are putting green elements into every park model and cabin we build,” said Tim Gage, vice president of Cavco’s specialty division. He said some of the company’s solar-powered park models have already been delivered to campgrounds in California, including Sacred Rocks Reserve and RV Park, a 163-acre resort in the mountains east of San Diego. 

Unlike most trailer products, which have to be hooked up to electrical utilities, Cavco’s solar-powered park models have enough panels to generate their own power. The units come equipped with energy-efficient light bulbs and kitchen appliances, including tankless water heaters, as well as maintenance free batteries that are designed to store enough power to last for two days. Gasoline-powered generators are also provided as an emergency backup system. 

Other green features in Cavco park models include recycled tires and axles; an I-beam made from recycled steel; formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation; water and drain pipes made with recycled materials; recycled carpet padding; water saving toilets, faucets and shower nozzles; and Gypsum panels made from recycled paper.  

Crisp said NTA developed its green standards based on its own experience with green building practices, many of which have been influenced by the U.S. Green Building Council, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). 

“These agencies have already established green building standards, but they only apply to commercial and residential buildings,” Crisp said, adding, “There are no recognized green building codes for recreational vehicles or park models. So that’s the void we are trying to fill with our new green standard.” 

Crisp said NTA’s green standards have been developed in accordance with ISO Guide 65. He added that the standards that NTA has developed are very strict, and apply not only to RV and park model products, but to the manufacturing processes and work environments of the companies that produce these products. 

“We look at VOCs in their materials,” said Crisp. “We look at their manufacturing environment and their level of recycling. We even look at carpooling policies and whether they provide a smoke-free environment,” 

Cavco, for its part, scored high marks for its use of recycled materials in construction as well as the high-energy standards of its park models. “Cavco is a very clean and efficient manufacturer,” Crisp said. “They recycle all of their materials. They even use a lot of pre-cut wood to avoid scrap.” 

Gage said Cavco was first introduced to the concept of building green by one of its customers, El Capitan Resort near Santa Barbara, Calif. “I remember first meeting with them and thinking, ‘These guys are crazy,’ ” Gage recalled. “They mentioned wanting materials like tankless water heaters, SIPS roofs and walls and recycled barn wood flooring. These building materials seemed so far out of the box for manufacturing park models and cabins. However, we now recognize the need and the reasoning behind building green.” 

For more information on NTA’s green certification program for park models and recreational vehicles, contact Andy Crisp at (574) 354-2401 or visit the company’s website at www.ntainc.com. 

For information on Cavco’s park models, contact Tim Gage at (602) 763-5488 or visit the park model section of the company’s website at www.cavcoparkhomes.com.