Contributed by Michael Tobias
The LEED certification from the US Green Building Council is one of the most popular rating systems for buildings globally. LEED scores buildings under several performance categories. Certification requires a minimum score of 40.
Projects can also qualify for Silver, Gold and Platinum certifications at scores of 50, 60 and 80, respectively. The certification also includes mandatory requirements to meet regardless of the score obtained.
There are different versions of the LEED certification, each suited for different types of projects:
- BD+C: Building Design and Construction
- ID+C: Interior Design and Construction
- O+M: Operations and Maintenance
- ND: Neighborhood Development
- LEED for Homes
The requirements of LEED for Homes depend on the type of building. One version applies for single-family homes and multi-family homes up to three stories (low rise), while the other applies for multi-family homes at least four stories high.
LEED certification for homes: important requirements
If you are interested in LEED certification for your home, first check its eligibility. You can more easily get certified if you’re planning a new home, since you can ask architects and engineers to design it according to LEED requirements. On the other hand, you can only certify an existing home with a major renovation, which must include dismantling the walls and roof to improve insulation.
To certify a home, contact a LEED Green Rater to validate the design and construction. Schedule a preliminary meeting with the rater as early as possible during the project. In addition, a qualified energy rater must analyze your home energy performance; many Green Raters provide this service as well.
How are LEED certified homes scored?
LEED requirements are classified into prerequisites and credits. A prerequisite is mandatory and does not add points, but you cannot certify your home unless you meet them all. On the other hand, you choose which credits to pursue. Each earns points. Homes must meet a combination of credits that accumulates at least 40 points to get the LEED certification.
There are eight categories of prerequisites and credits. Your LEED certification level depends on the points earned in eight different categories,up to amaximum possible score of 110.
|What is Scored?
|Having a project team with a broad skillset.
Providing green building workshops for the project team and construction workers.
|Location and Transportation
|Finding a project site with access to transportation and minimal environmental impact.
Having a compact design.
|Preventing pollution during the construction process.
Avoiding invasive plants and pesticides, managing rainwater effectively, and avoiding the creation of a “heat island”.
|Metering water consumption effectively.
Reducing water consumption as much as possible.
|Energy and Atmosphere
|Energy metering and conservation, along with homeowner education on energy efficiency practices.
LEED prioritizes space heating, hot water and air conditioning systems, due to their high energy footprint. Effective home insulation improves the efficiency of HVAC systems.
|Materials and Resources
|Using materials with a minimal environmental impact throughout their service life, not only during extraction.
|Indoor Environmental Quality
|Providing adequate ventilation and reducing the concentration of indoor air pollutants.
|One point for involving a LEED Accredited Professional.
Up to 5 points for innovative measures not covered by existing requirements.
|This category changes depending on the project’s location. Measures particularly beneficial to local conditions can earn up to 4 points.
This table provides a brief summary of all performance categories in the LEED certification. Each category has credits with specific requirements. Most also include mandatory prerequisites. A Green Rater can help you find the best combination of credits to pursue for your home.
Be sure to provide detailed documentation ofevery aspect of the process of designing and building your home according to LEED requirements. Even a high-performance home can lose points for poor documentation.
Michael Tobias is founder of New York Engineers which designs over 100 construction projects a year. He has been featured on Impossible Engineering (Discovery Channel), ABC News, Fox News, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the New York Post, Icons of Infrastructure, and Managers Club.