What are LEED Homes?

Mary McMahon

LEED homes are homes which have been inspected and rated under the LEED for homes program, administered by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED for homes program provides homeowners and contractors with the opportunity to access the inspection and certification system used for other structures, like commercial buildings, to determine how environmentally friendly they are. Having LEED certification indicates that a home is energy efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, and it can increase the sale value of the home significantly.

LEED homes are usually planned out in advance of construction.
LEED homes are usually planned out in advance of construction.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification has been offered in the United States since 1998. Buildings all over the world have also been certified with LEED, a standard which involves assigning points to a structure in a number of areas, ranging from energy efficiency to innovation in design. The scale ranges from “LEED Certified” to “LEED Platinum,” reflecting the number of points the structure has received.

For LEED certification, the homeowner must work through a LEED certifiied provider.
For LEED certification, the homeowner must work through a LEED certifiied provider.

LEED homes are rated under a slightly different scale which has been customized to address specific concerns of homebuilders. The certification program is designed to provide an incentive to build in environmentally friendly ways, and to create a standard which can be used to rate buildings. By defining environmental friendliness and creating a rubric, the USGBC can fairly examine and rate structures all over the world. People can also draw immediate inferences about a structure on the basis of LEED certification, a definite plus over more vague sustainability certification programs.

To receive LEED certification for a home, people must work through a LEED provider, a local coordinator who can connect homeowners and contractors with the resources they need to successfully build or renovate a home to LEED standards. Because LEED homes involve design considerations from the ground up, it is advisable to do research before planning a structure's construction, as there may be important issues which need to be addressed in the early planning phases.

Asking to have a home LEED certified is voluntary, but there are some incentives which make it appealing. In addition to raising the value of a structure, LEED ratings indicate that a structure will operate more efficiently, saving costs involved in the running of the home in the long term. Some local governments also provide grants, tax breaks, and other incentives to people who pursue LEED certification, as a way of encouraging their communities to build with the environment in mind. LEED homes may be viewed as community showcases of environmental design, and it is not uncommon for contractors and homeowners to receive civic commendations for their LEED homes.

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