What is LEED Certification? 6 Benefits of a LEED-Certified Home
Green living has been part of popular consciousness ever since the first Earth Day in 1970, and its roots extend back even further. But using the core tenets of an eco-friendly lifestyle in the construction industry is a more recent development.
In 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit that promotes sustainability in buildings, officially developed its Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) standards as the basis for the sustainable design, construction, and operation of buildings. Since their inception, these benchmarks have focused on addressing factors such as materials, energy efficiency, waste reduction, environmental awareness, pollution control, sustainability, and an overall improvement in quality of life for humans, plants, and animals.
Today, the USGBC has grown and refined the guidelines for certification to reflect the cutting edge of construction technology that respects the planet and its resources. The most recent improvements to these building methods were introduced in 2013, 20 years after their establishment. Known as LEED V 4, they include:
- Increased flexibility. Gives builders more freedom to incorporate their aesthetic
- Performance focus. Homes need to show the effects of LEED standards
- Smart grid technology. Uses electricity with greater efficiency
- Resources & materials. Buildings can always use better, more eco-friendly products
- Water usage. Homes can always waste less water
- Documentation. Home builders should always pursue better processes
LEED for Homes Certification guarantees your home was built according to the most eco-friendly standards possible. A green home constructed by these standards showcases both your love of the environment and your appreciation for committed craftsmanship.
LEED homes are built to last.
How Do You Get Your Home LEED Certified?
The USGBC has very clear metrics — including an official scorecard — that home builders must refer to when constructing your house. There are four basic LEED for Homes Certification levels, each corresponding to a set of points earned by meeting specific guidelines for sustainability, energy efficiency, and environmental friendliness.
- Standard – 40-49 points
- Silver – 50-59 points
- Gold – 60-79 points
- Platinum – 80+ points
But before you can start counting points, there are specific prerequisites your home must achieve. As the USGBC puts it, “Fulfilling the requirements of prerequisites will not earn points. Think of them as the foundation—without it, you can’t construct a building.” They include concepts such as:
- Construction activity pollution prevention
- Indoor water use prevention
- Minimum energy performance
- Storage and collection of recyclables
- Minimum indoor air quality performance
Once your building meets all of the prerequisites set by the USGBC, the home builder can pursue any combination of credits on the LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations checklist they deem necessary. It’s up to you and your home builder to determine which LEED certification you want to pursue.
How Much Does LEED Certification Cost?
The USGBC is very transparent with the costs and fees associated with LEED Certification, including the breakdown in fee structure based upon your home builder’s membership level. As you might imagine, the price for LEED Certification is mostly determined by your home’s “Gross Floor Area (excluding parking),” so there’s no one set price you can claim that covers all the costs for getting your home LEED certified.
For example, if you hired a Platinum level home builder to construct a new green home with a gross floor area of 600,000 sq. ft., your minimum costs would include:
- $1,200 – Registration
- $4,000 – Precertification flat fee
- $30,000 – Combined Certification Review: Design and Construction ($0.050 / sf)
Depending upon your situation, you could also be assessed additional fees for Expedited Reviews, appealing the credits you’ve earned (and been denied), and interpreting how your builder has gone about earning your credits. And these are just the fees for Building Design and Construction. The USGBC can also assess fees for Interior Design and Construction, Building Operations and Maintenance, Neighborhood Development, and more.
It’s essential you discuss these fees with your home builder as early as possible. We recommend doing so at your very first consultation, as pursuing LEED for Homes standards will definitely impact the planning, construction, and budgeting for your new green home.
Why Your Next Home Needs LEED Certification
The beauty of LEED is that you don’t need to be a super hippie environmentalist to appreciate its benefits. The guidelines are designed to show people the perks of paying attention to the world around you before, during, and after construction. Ultimately, a LEED-certified home can fulfill the dreams of nearly every type of homeowner because it’s built with a strong focus in taking care of you and your family.
1. Environmentally Friendly
Let’s start with the most obvious benefits — the ones people give all their attention to. Any home built to LEED standards will enjoy perks such as:
- Increased energy efficiency
- Reduced water waste
- Lower resource waste
- Sustainable construction
- Eco-friendly materials
All of this leads to a decreased carbon footprint — just by living your everyday life. Even if you aren’t the composting and recycling type, these enhancements will create a greater return on your investment in the form of lower utility costs. Showing your love for the environment is a great thing, but so is paying smaller electricity and water bills each month. Such benefits are created by using concepts such as enhanced insulation, low-flow showerheads, and efficient designs that increase air flow.
2. Improved Family Health
This is the flip side of Benefit #1. By building a home using materials and processes that are kind to the planet, you are creating a green home that is kind to your family. LEED-certified homes have greatly improved indoor air quality over traditional homes. This is due in large part to how the doors, windows, and walls are built. Special attention is paid to ventilation and ensuring that outdoor and indoor air stay where they belong.
Furthermore, since the materials used in building the home are from sustainable and environmentally friendly sources, you can be assured of their high quality. Specifically, they won’t leech chemicals into the rooms where you live and play that could pose a health risk to your family.
3. Increased Quality of Life
A continuation of Benefit #2, a LEED-certified home ensures your family enjoys advantages that extend well beyond the day-to-day. In fact, certain levels of LEED certification require a green home to be part of a walkable neighborhood, including relative proximity to ample green space. This connects the eco-friendly interior of your home to the wider world, complete with access to trees and greenery, without making your home totally removed from society. As in, you could build a great LEED home in the middle of nowhere, but you’d then have to drive long distances for work, school, and entertainment, which would increase your carbon footprint.
4. Federal Tax Credits
Additionally, your life could be improved because you receive federal tax credits for following LEED standards. This pairs well with your lower utility bills, meaning that any increased cost of home construction you might incur will be quickly offset and then surpassed by these financial gains.
5. Decreased Home Repairs
When you build a home for LEED certification, your home builder is only using the best materials and top-rated construction processes. Your green home will be built to last, which means you there’s a much smaller chance you’ll need regular home repairs. And any homeowner can appreciate that sort of reduction in stress.
6. Higher Resale Value
According to recent trends in the real estate market, there’s been a 19% uptick in the construction of LEED-certified homes since 2017. Data has revealed such homes resell for more than non-LEED homes of similar size and amenities – simply because people understand the value of bonuses they will receive. Admittedly, most people who choose to build a LEED home want to live in that home for a long time, but it’s also great to know that you can make money if you ever need to sell it.
The Frankel Promise
At Frankel Building Group, we espouse these benefits in everything we do. We believe that sustainable, eco-friendly home building is the future of our industry, and we happily share the benefits of a LEED-certified home with anyone and everyone who wants a custom home from us.
Sure, we love the environment, but we also want to build the best possible homes. It’s why every house we’ve built since 2010 meets LEED for Homes standards. We feel LEED-certified homes are both the present and future of the home construction business. People are paying more attention to how homes are built, and we like being the only custom home builder in Houston, TX who follows these guidelines.