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Green homes and LEED certification

Link to Green homes and LEED certification

Many prefab vendors cite the "greenness" of their home models as a selling point. What exactly makes a home "green" and what is LEED certification?

According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC):

"...the residential sector accounts for 22% of the total energy consumed in the US and 74% of the water. Indoor air pollutants can often be four to five times higher than outdoor levels. Twenty-one percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are contributed by the residential sector....

Green home building addresses these issues by promoting the design and construction of homes that have much higher performance levels than conventional homes....Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient....

Green homes rely upon established and proven design features and technologies that do not have a significantly large cost. Many green measures will reduce long term costs, particularly those features that involve energy and water efficiency. In many cases, these reductions in operating costs will more than offset the additional up-front costs of a green home."

The USGBC has developed an objective rating system which quantifies these "green" characteristics:
"The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings' performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality."

The LEED rating system scores a home on a 109 point scale and assigns a rating of certified (30 points minimum), silver (50 points minimum), gold (70 points minimum) or platinum (90 points minimum). The USGBC explains that "there are 36 topic areas included in the LEED for Homes Rating System. Each topic area has a unique intent or goal." These goals include:
• Avoid development on environmentally sensitive sites.
• Design landscape features to minimize demand for water and synthetic chemicals.
• Design home features to minimize the need for poisions for insect and disease control.
• Offset central water supply through the capture and controlled reuse of rainwater and/or grey water.
• Reduce energy consumption of lighting and appliances
• Reduce waste generation during construction
• Reduce occupant exposure to indoor pollutants (a full list of the qualities of a green home can be found on the usgbc website)

As of this post, only info_smallLivingHomes' prefab model has achieved LEED certification, with a platinum rating (91 points). LivingHomes' website explains:

"As a company, we're committed to building homes that are as healthy as possible, and that minimize their "ecological footprint" with respect to the resources they use for their construction, operation and eventual decommission. Homes built using traditional stick methods can be very unhealthy and extremely resource intensive. In contrast, our homes use sustainable, healthier building materials, as well as energy-efficient environmental systems and products."
Further explanation of the LEED certification of LivingHomes' models can be found on the company website.

Related Posts:
   1. Big Ideas on the Sundance Channel (May 01, 2007)
   2. The Dwell Home II and the Green Sandwich (Apr 30, 2007)
   3. Greenwashing (Apr 24, 2007)
   4. LivingHomes (Mar 28, 2007)
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