LEED-Certified Homes: What a Green Home Offers

Want to live green? A home certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program can benefit the environment, your health and even your wallet. Check out what it takes to earn a LEED designation and what’s worth incorporating in your current space or pursuing in your next home hunt.

Why LEED-Certified Homes?

LEED certification began in 2000 to serve as a global rating system for best practices to build sustainable commercial properties and developments. In 2008, LEED expanded to include homes, which earn their designation based on building materials, energy systems, location, design and indoor air quality.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reports LEED-certified homes benefit both the environment and the residents who live in them. Here are their findings:

  • Energy Efficiency: LEED spaces use 30 to 60 percent less energy than traditionally constructed homes. This is because they’re designed to be water-efficient and to minimize hot- and cold-air leakages through duct work.
  • Financial Benefits: The average American spends more than they need to on home utility costs. Green homes can significantly reduce utility expenses, particularly for long-term residents. Plus, LEED certification may help you sell your home. According to the New and Remodeled Green Homes SmartMarket Report, nearly 75 percent of single-family home builders and 68 percent of multifamily builders are willing to pay more upfront for a property with sustainable features.
  • Improved Air Quality: Part of LEED certification focuses on improved indoor air quality and reduced exposure to pollutants, thus improving the health of residents. This includes proper ventilation, heating and cooling systems to minimize the accumulation of mold and mildew. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency says common symptoms like persistent coughs, wheezing, fatigue and headaches can be caused by overexposure to gas and furnaces, water heaters, washing machines and fireplaces, particularly in spaces with subpar ventilation, like many older homes.

How to Find Your Green Home

If you’re interested in building, buying or renting a green property, the Neighborhood Energy Connection explains how to determine which LEED designation a home can earn based on location, water efficiency, energy use, innovation and design, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

The designations range from LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold or LEED Platinum, depending on how many points the place earns. Builders can participate in a variety of LEED certification programs offered by the USGBC to enhance the eco-friendliness of the building.

The USGBC also estimates about 40 percent of the residential real estate market will include green, sustainable homes by 2018. And keep in mind that in order for a property to be marketed with a LEED designation, it must undergo extensive inspections, reviews and performance testing. Because sustainable materials and green certifications add value in the real estate market, properties that earn this designation will be clearly advertised.

So get out there, and start hunting for your green home.

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