Green homes offer many benefits — ranging from being healthier and safer by providing cleaner indoor air, to using less energy and water, leading to monthly savings on utilities. They also maintain their value over time. More than 112,000 residential units have earned LEED certification, which is the designation offered from the U.S. Green Building Council.
- Nationwide, the typical household spends about $2,150 on residential energy bills each year, but LEED-certified green homes are designed to use about 30 to 60 percent less energy. Over the seven or eight years the typical family lives in a home, this adds up to thousands of dollars in savings. Levels of indoor air pollutants can often be four to five times higher than outdoor levels, and with people spending an average of 90 percent of their time indoors, the average American suffers from significant exposure to unhealthy indoor environments. LEED residential units provide significant value to consumers through dramatically improving upon these environmental health factors.
- Green homes are built to be energy-efficient, ensuring that they can be comfortably heated and cooled with minimal energy usage. They are individually tested to minimize envelope and ductwork leakage and designed to minimize indoor and outdoor water usage.
- Green homes are increasingly desirable. More than half of consumers rank green and energy-efficiency as top requirements for their next homes, and LEED certification is a top individual attribute of apartment rentals, second only to location near a central business district.
- Green homes can be built for the same cost as—and sometimes less than—conventional homes. Average upfront costs of 2.4 percent are quickly recouped, as a homeowner will save money for the duration of his or her green home’s lifespan.
- Green homes sell at higher prices and faster than comparable, conventional homes. According to a 2016 report, “What Is Green Worth? Unveiling High-Performance Home Premiums in Washington, D.C.," by real estate appraiser and author Sandra K. Adomatis and the Institute for Market Transformation, high-performing single family and multi-family homes with green features in Washington, D.C. will sell for 3.5 percent more than those without green features.
- It is estimated that by 2018, the green, single-family housing market will represent about 40 percent of the market, and 84 percent of all residential construction will have sustainable features.
- More than 121,400 residential units have earned LEED certification to date around the world, and this number continues to rise in countries like the United States., Canada, Saudi Arabia and China. Within the United States, states with the most LEED-certified homes include California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Georgia.
- The 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, released by USGBC and prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton, found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent.
- The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air is two to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. LEED-certified homes are designed to maximize the quality of indoor air and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants. They require proper ventilation, high-efficiency air filters and measures to reduce mold and mildew.
- Each LEED-certified home undergoes onsite inspections, detailed documentation review and performance testing to ensure the health and safety of home dwellers.
LEED and Homes
LEED homes are built to be healthy, providing clean indoor air and incorporating safe building materials to ensure a comfortable home. Using less energy and water means lower utility bills each month. And in many markets, certified green homes are now selling quicker and for more money than comparable non-green homes.
LEED certification provides independent verification of a building or neighborhood's green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings. LEED is the triple bottom line in action, benefiting people, planet and profit.
Originally created as a green building rating system for commercial projects, USGBC launched the LEED program for homes in 2008 via USGBC’s open, consensus-based development process. The residential LEED rating system addresses the specific needs of residential projects built to be efficient and sustainable. Every LEED-certified home is a healthy, resource efficient and cost effective place to live.
LEED offers a certification pathway for all types of residential projects. LEED is available for building design and construction projects for single family homes and multifamily projects up to eight stories.
- LEED Building Design + Construction: Homes & Multifamily Lowrise—Designed for single family homes and multifamily buildings between one and three stories.
- LEED Building Design + Construction: Multifamily Midrise—Designed for midrise multifamily buildings between four and eight stories.
Four critical ways:
- Health: LEED-certified homes are designed to maximize fresh air indoors and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants.
- Savings: They’re designed to save costly resources—energy and water. On average, LEED-certified homes use 20 to 30% less energy than a home built to code, with some homes reporting up to 60% savings. Using fewer resources means lower utility bills each month.
- Trusted: They’re third-party inspected, performance-tested, and certified to perform better than a conventional home. Additionally, to ensure that your home is built to an exacting green standard, each LEED-certified home is inspected and tested by the third party non-profit organization: GBCI. Onsite inspections, detailed documentation review and performance are required in every LEED-certified home—so you can trust that your home is truly green.
- Value: With proper planning, green homes can be built for the same cost as conventional homes, and they’re resold for more money in less time than traditional homes. LEED homes can qualify for discounted insurance, tax breaks and other incentives.
Certification: Residential LEED projects have a verification-based certification process to ensure optimum performance and achievement. To learn more about the certification process, visit the LEED Guide to Certification.
LEED has become recognized in the commercial building sector as the national benchmark of performance for green buildings and has rapidly gained recognition among the public at large. LEED is designed to serve the residential construction industry. Homebuilders using LEED will be able to differentiate their homes as representing the highest quality of green homes on the market. Furthermore, LEED certification will make it easy for homebuyers to readily identify high-quality green homes.
One of the many challenges faced by a homebuyer is comparing a green home to another home. Any home can be called "green," but how does the homeowner know that it really is green? LEED certification demonstrates that a green home has been third-party inspected, performance-tested and certified to perform better than conventional homes.
Documentation and verification fees for LEED are paid to and established by each LEED homes provider. The cost of verification will vary with size of the home, the certification level sought (i.e., Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum), travel time required by the rater, the number of homes being built, and the builder’s experience with green homebuilding techniques. Certain areas may have cost incentives provided through utilities, state energy organizations or corporate sponsors.
LEED homes are rated by LEED homes providers, local organizations with documented experience and expertise in their region's market. A LEED homes provider has three primary roles in a given market: marketing LEED to builders; providing green home rating support services to builders; and training, coordinating and overseeing LEED-qualified raters and builder support staff. LEED homes providers are located around the country and contracted through the USGBC to provide services to builders. They have demonstrated outstanding abilities and have a proven record of supporting builders in the construction of high performance, sustainable homes.
Education @USGBC is your source for high-quality green building and sustainability education. View the LEED homes playlist for courses that will help you green your home. Start learning today.