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Home > Feature Articles > Sustainable Development Best Practices for Community Sustainability

Green Homes Are Hitting the Mainstream with LEED for Homes

LEED for Homes will raise the bar with consumer education and builder strategies to reduce energy, conserve water and reduce pollution

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Building Codes and Green Building Standards

New homebuyers often do not realize that the building codes define the lowest level of acceptable performance in new homes. Homebuyers have begun to look beyond code-built homes, to higher quality homes that are available. Among these options are homes certified through green homebuilding programs.

LEED for Homes

The LEED for Homes program defines a green home as:

  1. Healthy
  2. Comfortable
  3. Durable
  4. Energy efficient, and
  5. Environmentally responsible

One of the main purposes of the LEED for Homes program is to guide homeowners to new homes that meet the definition of a green home. A home buyer can look for a certified LEED home to readily identify a true green home that has been third-party inspected and performance-tested. LEED homes substantially outperform conventional homes that are built to the minimum code.

LEED Home Building Standards

LEED homes are built differently -- they are designed, built and optimized for maintenance that delivers numerous benefits to home owners, including lower energy and water bills; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; increased comfort, less exposure to indoor pollutants such as mold, mildew and other indoor toxins, and lower maintenance costs.

Most important, these green building benefits are very affordable. The net monthly cost of owning a LEED home (mortgage payment PLUS utility bills) is comparable to that of the monthly cost of owning a conventional code-built home. The increase in the mortgage payment is usually completely offset by the reduced monthly utility bills.

The commonly recognized benefits come from increased health factors and resale value, among other design benefits -- as well as long term energy and water efficiency that will grow as prices increase.

Why is Construction Part of a Green Building Profile?

The demolition and construction of buildings account for more than one-third of waste in U.S. landfills. The majority of Americans think cars and trucks are the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, but they're not. Power plants are.

"In five years, all the buzz in these massive green expos will be about what technology is available for energy-positive buildings," former President Clinton said at Greenbuild 2007, adding "America is convinced of the need to change. The sale has been made. We just need to get the show on the road."

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being -- Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken's his new book, "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming." Hawken says people today use 100 to 1,000 times more energy and natural materials than our ancestors did in 2000 BC. Measure the resources those ancestors depleted in a year, he says, and today we would likely burn through them in five minutes.

U.S. Green Building Council, organizer of the 2007 Greenbuild conference, used the event to announce the formal launch of its LEED for Homes rating system.

The "LEED for Homes" label has the potential to teach mainstream America that environmental consciousness goes beyond a home's finishes and furnishings to its very core -- its design and construction.

  • Can this house maximize natural light and minimize the need for electric illumination?
  • Can its walls and windows prevent heat or air-conditioning from escaping?
  • Can it be built with minimal contributions to landfills and little effect on the surrounding land?
Green building standards and developer assistance programs are provided by a number of national and regional nonprofit and government agencies. Some provide regional adaptations to deal with specific environmental differences such as desert conditions that require higher water conservation strategies.

SOURCE: LA TIMES



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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