Several home-rating programs today are helping consumers cut through the confusion of what is and what isn’t green. Most familiar is the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes. Established in 2007, this program establishes independent, third-party verification that a project meets criteria for a set of stringent green-building standards spread over 35 different categories. According to the USGBC, the benefits of a LEED home include lower energy and water bills; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins.
Through a strategic partnership with the National Association of Home Builders, the nonprofit Green Building Initiative has unveiled their Green Globes rating classification as an alternative to the LEED system. This certification program integrates a comprehensive environmental assessment protocol, software tools, and qualified assessors with green building expertise.
Local green building programs can be even more applicable, since they can address regional differences. In California, the nonprofit Build It Green has established their GreenPoint rating system, which grades homes on five categories: energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation, and community.