LEED for Homes: Guaranteed Green?

| 10/29/2010 11:48:12 AM

Tags: LEED, green-building, ,

LEED Platinum HomeWhat are the pros and cons of building or buying a LEED-certified house?  

The main benefit of any green-building rating program, such as LEED for Homes, is the information you receive during the certification process. All the green features of your home are identified and verified so you know exactly what you’re buying. Also, consider that green-building rating programs have the potential to improve the way homes are designed, built and operated, so by participating in this program you’re helping support the long-term trend toward greener building practices.

Full disclosure: I have done work for several of the major green-building ratings programs, but I am not a rater for any of them and I have no vested interest in which one you might use. I do, however, think there are some aspects of LEED for Homes that make it a standout program.

What is LEED for Homes? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it’s a rating program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED program began in 1998 and was first used for commercial buildings. LEED for Homes is a newer program, which was officially released in 2008.

Points and Prerequisites. Like most green-building rating programs, LEED for Homes relies on a total number of points, and I think this program’s approach to points is a solid one. It makes “good” building mandatory, and awards one point for “better” and two points for “best” building practices. While not all green rating programs have mandatory items, LEED for Homes has 18, and these include some valuable standards. For example, a LEED-certified home must earn the Energy Star label, which creates a solid energy-efficiency foundation for any home.

Home Size. Bigger homes have to work much harder for LEED certification than smaller homes. That’s because LEED for Homes has a unique “home size adjuster.” Homes that are larger than average need more points at each level (certified, silver, gold and platinum), while smaller-than-average homes need fewer points. This makes home size an overarching issue, as it should be, because more resources are required to build and maintain a larger home.

Pat Miketinac
11/11/2010 9:22:46 PM

I found the LEED forms to be incompatible with earth sheltered housing, but useful for conventional construction. For example, my walls and floor have no insulation so as to passively heat and cool the house with the 72 degree ground temperature here in Florida.

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