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Naive question on LEED certification

Bdgray | Posted in General Questions on


At the risk of sounding naive, I have a question on LEED certification. For the last seven years my wife and I have slowly renovated our home in the Chicago burbs. There was no master plan, I’m just OCD and need weekend projects to keep my hands (and brain) occupied. Seven years of weekends add up and our home is now transformed: All exterior walls are R25, roof deck is 7″ of CC sprayfoam (using low-GWP propellant), heating is hydronic radiant on 95% boiler, cooling is a Mitsubishi minisplit, basement has 2″ of XPS on every wall, every bulb in the house is LED, fireplace inserts to prevent air infiltration, rain barrel on every downspout, lawn is 7 years organic, and we compost just about everything. Even our house itself was probably saved from a landfill.

During this process I never thought about going for a LEED certification. I just enjoyed restoring an old home. But in retrospect, almost everything we did was with efficiency and conservation in mind.

This week I went onto the USGBC website to look at the LEED certification process, I can tell the process usually starts pre-construction and is an interactive process with a certified LEED auditor.

So I have two questions:
1) Is it naive to think that my home could achieve LEED certification?
2) Since 90%+ of the work is done, am I too late to pursue this?

Thank you,

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    I think you have to ask yourself why you want to pursue certification. I earned HERS and Earthcraft Platinum certificates on my home because building healthy and efficient were part of my original objective for the project. (Plus, my community requires at least basic Earthcraft for new construction.) But I'm not sure I'd go above and beyond if doing it again.

    The house is on the market since my wife and I have decided to construct a smaller, single-level home. So far none of the potential buyers has shown any interest in the home's many green features. Those issues are simply not on their radar.

    If you want someone to validate your years of hard work, then go for it. If you are looking for evidence that will translate into market value or return on investment, I am not sure you will find that with LEEDS, HERS, Energy Star, Passive House, or any other similar program.

  2. ohioandy | | #2

    In addition to Steve's questions of return-on-investment (LEED certification is costly in time and money) your suspicions that it's too late are probably right. First of all, LEED for Homes only allows certification of existing homes if the remodel begins with a substantial gutting. Beyond that, LEED is very process-oriented, placing heavy emphasis on planning, multiple meetings with all stakeholders, regular inspections and documentation. You might be able to cobble together some of the documentation (mine ran to 500 pages for a small house), but the inspections can't be done after the fact. LEED for Homes is heavily skewed to production homebuilders who can find economies of scale in the process, or high-end customizers working with wealthy clients trying to make a statement.

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