How do you tell the difference between homes that look environmentally friendly and ones who actually are? Home certifications can help. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is just one certification that aids all sectors of the home-building sector use a few of the best methods of sustainable construction and design.
Your first two concerns about certification are likely to be, “What’s in it for me? And “How much is this going to cost?” Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals.
Butler Armsden Architects
Advantages of LEED Certification
The advantages touch everyone involved. For the homeowner a voluntary certification like LEED for homes increases accountability for quality checks on the building site, therefore decreasing the frequency of costly mistakes. Additionally, as stated by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified homes use on typical 20 to 30 percent less electricity and water, with a few homes consumed to 60 percent less energy use than a house built to meet code minimums.
In addition to the decrease in monthly utility bills, many cities and states have tax breaks and incentives for environmentally friendly construction. While the LEED rating itself doesn’t address individual incentives, the requirements often predominate. In Reality, the U.S. Department of Energy includes a searchable Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. You and your project team can appear federal and state incentives to present your budget a little boost.
Finally, if you ever need to sell your house, you can request a higher price to get a LEED house than comparable homes on the marketplace. 1 study in California, for example, revealed an 8 to 9 percent increase in the market value of green-certified homes.
Meanwhile, any builders wanting to put themselves apart should consider learning how to construct based on LEED requirements. Most agree that there is a steep learning curve, however using over 100,000 home units certified from the U.S. (and a lot more from the pipeline), it could set an experienced business even farther apart from the audience or help a new company jump ahead. The same holds for designers who wish to show clients that they may be creative even in environmental parameters.
Prices of LEED Certification
It is hard to pinpoint an exact percentage increase in building costs that you will probably see with a LEED house. It depends on what you’re comparing it to. Within an apples-to-apples comparison using a high quality, uncertified construction that follows best-practice guidelines, the cost difference is hardly noticeable: maybe 2 to 5% higher).
In a comparison with the normal house on the marketplace that just meets the minimum construction codes (apples to apples in this little fruit metaphor), the percentage would be far higher: maybe 20 percent.
By earning points in eight classes, the finished house can reach these ratings:
Platinum (90 into 136 points)Gold (75 to 89 points)Silver (60 to 74 points)Certified (45 to 59 points)Whether you’re in the market for a LEED house or trying to build yourself, understanding what goes into these scoring categories can help you formulate your queries for your real estate agent or home builder.
1. Innovation and Design Process (ID)
Points available: 11
Points earned for: making certain that the residence is sustainable, durable and cost efficient, using a well-rounded approach into the layout.
Items to keep in mind: This category of credits is meant to see if you truly mean it if you truly wish to create a sustainable house or if you are just searching for a quick certification. The lesson: Plan early and strategy often. You need to get your project team to the same webpage when possible and make sure that every professional involved is willing to use the best approaches, instead of the easiest methods.
The design of your house should be integrated with the choice of your group. It should take into consideration the path of the sun and the use of solar heat to reduce intake. The house also needs to be durable and high quality, not only to continue you through time, but also to offer a good foundation for all of the future of construction technology may hold.
2. Location and Linkages (LL)
Points available: 10
Points earned for: Selecting a sustainable place for your house. To be really green, you must try to use an present infrastructure.
Items to keep in mind: Urban infill projects located near transport, services and public parks are the perfect candidates for this. This doesn’t mean that your countryside cabin can not be LEED certified; you might need to work harder in different areas to acquire enough points.
The simplest way to earn points within this class is by buying land in an already certified LEED neighborhood.
Natural Balance Home Builders
3. Sustainable Sites (SS)
Factors available: 25 (minimum of 5 required)
Points earned for: Managing the impact of the building process and landscaping on your bit of property and neighboring surroundings.
Items to keep in mind: There is a 5-point minimum necessity for this section, because the sustainability of a house doesn’t stop at the walls. To reduce your environmental footprint, you’ll need to check out your whole parcel of property and even beyond. Your building team will need to correctly control erosion and storm water runoff to reduce the down the stream impact of construction activities. Additionally, your landscaping can’t include any crops that are considered invasive in your area.
To earn points in this class, your layout needs to consider everything from landscaping to pest control. As an example, you can earn points by employing drought-tolerant plants and using permeable paving methods to allow rainwater to filter naturally through the ground. You can also use innovative technologies like green roofs (sometimes called living roofs) to raise the amount of green area on a small lot.
Feldman Architecture, Inc..
4. Water Efficiency (WE)
Points available: 15 (minimum of 3 required)
Points earned for: Conserving and using less water in and about the house.
Items to keep in mind: This class is rather straightforward. However, you do need to reach three or more points. There are numerous easy fixes you can pursue, such as low-flow bathrooms and energy-rated appliances. Harvesting rainwater and with different sources of recycled water are rewarded, as is landscaping that has low irrigation demands (for example, it uses native plants adapted to your climate).
For a comprehensive list of products that meet the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for water efficiency, such as fittings like taps and showerheads, check out its Water Sense site.
South Park Design Build
5. Energy and Atmosphere (EA)
Points available: 38
Points earned for: Building a more efficient residence, which absorbs cleaner and less energy.
Items to keep in mind: This really is one of the most complex classes, using a number of options for pursuing credit points and many mandatory measures. By way of example, all homes must meet the minimal requirements of Energy Star. Beyond this your project group can assess the energy efficiency of your designed home in a number of ways, such as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) or Title 24 Energy Code if you’re located in California.
The objective of the section is basically to predict how energy efficient your house will be, based on factors such as insulation, air filtration, windows, heating and cooling, hot water, lighting, refrigerants and renewables.
The major question here is cost. Designing for exceptional energy performance requires an increase in building costs relative to a ordinary home. More insulation and higher-quality windows may take their toll on the total budget. Many LEED-certified homes achieve their evaluations by picking up points in different categories and skimping on this one. The added costs of the class are also highly determined by your local climate. By way of example, in hot and humid locations, good dehumidification can lessen the cost of cooling your home.
Keep this in mind whenever you’re interviewing builders or looking at licensed houses. On completed constructions, it could be worth it to look at the individual score from 38 points within such a credits. The long-term impact of an efficient house could be more significant to the utility-paying homeowner compared to cost-cutting builder. But keep in mind that no two homes are the same, and no two builders. So it’s always best to have a full understanding of the pros and cons of investing in your home’s energy efficiency given that your particular climate.
6. Materials and Resources (MR)
Points available: 16 (minimum of 2 required)
Points earned for: Reducing the demand of fresh materials and minimizing waste.
Items to keep in mind: This group of credits often gets a whole lot of attention from homeowners interested in recycled rugs and sustainably harvested wood flooring. While environmentally preferable products are surely part of the section, there is also a strong focus on resources and materials utilized in the practice of construction.
Two from the 3 main categories of credits in this class address building waste. From the standard American construction industry, one of the largest waste elements is discarded framing material. According to the National Resources Defense Council, the financial motivation to reduce wasted framing substance is notable, even on an individual-home basis.
South Park Design Build
7. Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)
Factors available: 21 (minimum of 6 required)
Points earned for: developing a healthy and comfortable indoor environment whilst managing pollutants correctly.
Items to keep in mind: That is another big category, covering the general sustainability of the job. The way that you manage the air you breathe in your house can have enormous effects on your general health and comfort. This implies, for example, choosing a fireplace that seals closed and paying special attention to bathroom and kitchen exhaust systems. Some other simple fixes to help improve indoor air quality are to maintain garages detached and to install shoe-scrubbing mats at entryways.
Like other classes, this set of credits can be addressed by participating in a parallel program — in this instance the EPA’s airPLUS program.
We often inquire about natural venting: “When I open up my windows, won’t I’ve healthy indoor atmosphere” Well, it depends on where you reside. Naturally occurring pollens, levels of humidity in certain climates and pollutants out of neighboring constructions may still affect your health. Mechanical ventilation and filtration may be a good means to ensure high quality indoor atmosphere.
Ltd, Camery Hensley Construction
8. Awareness and Education (AE)
Factors available: 3
Points earned for: Educating the homeowners and passing knowledge about sustainable house construction.
Items to keep in mind: A sustainably designed house has limited effect in case you don’t know how to use it. As with any other product, your house should include a user’s manual. Responsible owners of LEED-certified homes know how the path of the sun affects the heat advantage in their house, understand the significance of a durability checklist and also understand the need to be familiarized with their house’s systems.
For another credit, you may then “pay it forward” by passing that knowledge and information on to other people.
Are you considering building an LEED-certified house? Please tell us in the Comments.