LEED for Homes

USGBC's Residential Green Building Program is Born

LEED

A “Good, Better, Even Better, Best” Approach to Scoring Houses

LEED for Homes sets baseline requirements for homes to be green, and then awards extra credit for going above and beyond the call. Above basic certification, you can earn Silver, Gold, and Platinum.


Design

Innovation and Design Process — 11 points

Putting your head together with other stakeholders means identifying hidden benefits that might not be seen otherwise. LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. recognizes three types of Innovation & Design Process credits:

Integrated project planning: A way to integrate cost effective green design and construction strategies. Passive solar orientation falls under this category. (4 points)

Durability management process: To achieve a durable enclosure through design, materials selection, and construction practices. (3 points)

Innovative or regional design: Minimize the environmental impact of a home above and beyond what LEED specifies. An opportunity to take local issues into account and raise the bar. (4 points)


Site

Location and Linkages / Sustainable Sites

There are six types of Location and Linkages credits.

Neighborhood Development: Minimize the effect by utilizing LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. for Neighborhood development certification.

Site selection: Avoid developing sensitive environmental areas, such as wetlands.

Preferred locations: Build near existing communities.

Existing infrastructure: Build homes where infrastructure already exists.

Community resources: To reduce the need for cars, use development patterns that are pedestrian-friendly.

Access to open spaces: Build near parks or other recreational spaces.

There are six types of Sustainable Sites credits.
Site stewardship: Minimize long-term environmental damage to the lot during construction.

Landscaping: Use native plants and discourage invasive species.

Local heat-island effects: Use the landscape to absorb heat.

Surface water management: Use the landscape to absorb storm water.

Non-toxic pest control: Use design to discourage pests rather than relying on poison.

Compact development: Smaller lots means less disturbance to the land.

Location and Linkages: 10 points
Sustainable Sites: 22 points.


Water

Water Efficiency

There are three types of Water Efficiency credits.

Water reuse (recycled water, such as gray-water systems) and rainwater storage.

Irrigation systems: Reduce the need for water with an efficient delivery system.

Indoor water use: Water-conserving plumbing fixtures and fittings.

15 points are available in this category.


Energy

Energy and Atmosphere

There are three types of Energy credits.

Optimize energy performance: Insulation, air sealing, windows, heating and cooling equipment, and distribution. Basically you need to beat minimum Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. for Homes specifications. Lighting, appliances, and renewable energy are also part of this category.

Hot water piping: Design efficient hot water distribution systems and insulate the pipes.

Air-conditioner: Refrigerant charge testing and ozone-friendly refrigerant use.

38 points are available in this category.


Materials

Materials and Resources

There are three types of Materials and Resources credits.

Material-efficient framing: Use less wood when framing.

Environmentally preferable products: Use locally made or harvested products and materials and generate demand for better products by specifying green products.

Waste management during construction: "Reduce waste generation to a level below the industry norm."

16 points are available in this category.


IEQ

Indoor Environmental Quality

There are ten types of Indoor Environmental Quality credits.

Points are awarded for:

  • Compliance with the EPA's Indoor AirPlus program;
  • Combustion appliance venting measures;
  • Moisture control;
  • Local exhaust fans;
  • HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. distribution systems;
  • Air filtering;
  • Indoor contaminant control;
  • RadonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. protection; and
  • Garage pollutant protection.

21 points are available in this category.


Education

Awareness and Education

There are two types of Awareness and Education credits.

Points are awarded for education of the homeowner / tenant, and education of the building manager.

3 points are available in this category.


Will Rival Green Rating Programs Merge?

Brendan Owen, the vice president of LEED technical development at USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems., sees no urgent need for harmonization between LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. and similar programs. “I think that what NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. has done and what LEED for Homes does are two different things,” said Owen. “We try to create rating systems that are leadership standards. We are working to create a mechanism that recognizes high-performance green building.”

Time To Harmonize
According to Bion Howard, an energy consultant from Valley Center, California, the way forward involves dialog. “The time is right for USGBC to have a series of meetings with NAHB about harmonization,” said Howard. “If the purpose of these guidelines is to provide better information to consumers, then it behooves everyone to get on the same page.”

Could NGBSNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. Become a Prerequisite for LEED for Homes?
Prodded to consider the possibility of harmonization, Owen suggested a parallel between the NGBS and ASHRAEAmerican Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). International organization dedicated to the advancement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education. Membership is open to anyone in the HVAC&R field; the organization has about 50,000 members. 189, a green standard for commercial construction.

“One of the things we have done on the commercial construction side is to partner with ASHRAE to create standard 189, which is another type of minimum green building standard that seeks to establish a floor, that sets a new minimum,” said Owen. “If ASHRAE 189 evolves the way we hope it does, it could serve on the commercial side as a prerequisite for LEED. There is still a lot of work to do on 189 to see if the resultant document can serve that purpose, though. And we haven’t entered into any type of discussion with NAHB around that topic.”

ABOUT LEED FOR HOMES

LEED for Homes is the residential version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED for Homes was released in February 2008 after two years in pilot status. By January 2009, LEED for Homes had certified 1,304 houses, with another 13,836 registered for certification.

The program is on a two-year cycle for revisions, so the next planned modifications will take place in 2011. The U.S. Green Building Council says it is too soon to say whether any parts of LEED for Homes will be revised.

LEED for Homes has prerequisites, but offers flexibility
LEED for Homes is less likely than the National Green Building StandardNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. to require points in a specific category. Four categories, in fact, have no minimum point requirements at all.

LEED for Homes requires compliance with 18 prerequisites covering such topics as erosion control, FSCNonprofit organization that promotes forestry practices that are sustainable from environmental and social standpoints; FSC certification on a wood product is an indicator that the wood came from a well-managed forest. certification for tropical woods, radonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. control in high risk areas, the elimination of invasive plants, and construction waste management planning, to name a few. No points are awarded for prerequisites.

LEED says its overall point strategy is to make “good” building practice mandatory and then assign 1 point for “better practice” and 2 points for “best practice.”

Energy Conservation is part of the deal
LEED for Homes sets no point minimums for energy conservation, but it requires all houses to be at the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. level. Points are added as energy efficiency goes up, all the way to 34 points for a house with a HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. Index of 0 (a net-zero-energy house). There are more potential points for energy conservation than any other category, making it highly likely (but not required) that a house with a high rating will perform better than a house that minimally complies with Energy Star requirements.

THE POWER OF BRAND RECOGNITION

For Many Buyers, “LEED” Rings a Bell

Branding and marketing can help direct home buyers to particular houses or communities. And on this score, LEED seems to hold the edge. It’s the “Xerox of green,” says North Carolina builder Michael Chandler of Chandler Design-BuildCompany that handles house design and construction. Since both services are provided by the same firm, integrated design can often be more easily achieved..

A marketing bump
Brian Hendrickson, principal architect of 180° Design Studio in Kansas City, says real-estate agents who are trying to sell houses see added value in buildings that can be labeled green. “They tell us, ‘Yeah, it’s a real marketing bump for them to be able to say it’s a green building,’” he says. “It costs more to get LEED certified but LEED also has a much more recognizable brand than any other green standard that I know of.

“LEED has done a remarkable job of developing the brand of LEED,” Hendrickson adds. “Maybe NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. is going to catch up with that, or any of the other green home rating systems throughout the country, but LEED certainly has a jump start on that.”

“I don’t know what it means, but I want a LEED home”
It’s a safe bet that most consumers don’t know a lot about the particulars of rating systems even if they can’t escape the clamor over green building. In Hendrickson’s travels around the country, he’s heard many people ask for a “LEED building” even when the meaning is vague. “They know the word,” he says, “they know the buzz word of LEED but very often people don’t what that means in terms of cost.”

Chandler says he’s never had a client say, “I want a LEED house.” He’s much more likely to get a request for green features or even “LEED points,” which may mean that it’s up to builders to build effective marketing around whatever green rating system they happen to like.

“The real customer here is the builder who is trying to differentiate himself in the marketplace,” Chandler says.

FURTHER RESOURCES

LEED for Homes Web site.

A pdf document explaining the LEED for Homes rating system.

An Excel spreadsheet containing a LEED for Homes checklist.


Image Credits:

  1. Daniel Morrison / GreenBuildingAdvisor.com
  2. Andy Engel / Fine Homebuilding
  3. Courtesy of TBES
  4. Giles Douglas
  5. Chuck Lockhart/Fine Homebuilding #174
  6. Courtesy of Panasonic
  7. SXC
Tags: , , , , ,
Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!