In 2006, the U.S. Green Building Council established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to drive the home building market toward more sustainable practices and establish a national baseline for green building standards. Residences participating in the LEED for Homes certification program are awarded points which, when added up, determine a home’s certification level.
- Innovation & Design Process (11 points possible): Points are awarded for the integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction strategies, and for a high-performance building enclosure attained through appropriate design, materials section, and construction practices. Additional points are given for incorporating innovations or regional design strategies that minimize the home’s environmental impact.
- Location & Linkages (10 points): Measures the home’s location with respect to the larger community. Includes points for avoiding development in environmentally sensitive areas; and for building near or within existing communities, and near utility and transportation infrastructure.
- Sustainable Sites (22 points): Awards points for erosion control measures, xeriscaping and landscaping with native plants, surface water runoff control, and nontoxic pest‑control measures.
- Water Efficiency (15 points): Addresses water conservation measures through water reuse (rainwater and greywater collection systems), water-efficient irrigation systems, and use of water-efficient fixtures and appliances.
- Energy & Atmosphere (38 points): Examines the home’s overall energy performance relative to Energy Star-rated homes. Includes points for increasing insulation, implementing effective air-infiltration control strategies, maximizing window performance, reducing mechanical heating and cooling, incorporating daylighting, and using renewable energy generation.
- Materials & Resources (16 points): Points are awarded for using efficient framing techniques, sustainably harvested wood, and no- or low-VOC paints and adhesives. Reducing waste generation to below industry norms earns points.
- Indoor Environmental Quality (21 points): Points are given for minimizing the combustion gas leakage within a home, moisture-control measures, and effective ventilation and filtration strategies.
- Awareness & Education (3 points): Aims to maintain the performance of the home by educating the homeowner, tenant, and/or building manager about the operation and maintenance of the home.
— Chris Watson, LEED-AP (www.aeapower.com)