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Green Basics

LEED for Homes

USGBC's Residential Green Building Program is Born


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 Standard 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, FSC certification for tropical woods, radon 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 Star level. Points are added as energy efficiency goes up, all the way to 34 points for a house with a HERS 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.

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