Many people looking to purchase a home want it to be as energy efficient as possible. Real estate agents all over the United States boast that green homes may sell faster and for a higher price than traditional homes. Endorsing a home through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program, more popularly known as the LEED Program, provides one outlet to ensure a home is energy efficient.
What Is a LEED Certification?
Back in the mid 1990s, a group of engineers, architects and builders gathered to establish standards for building new green-rated structures. By 1998, this group developed a points scale recognized by the USGBC for energy efficient homes. Homes receiving a minimum of 40%-49% efficiency received standard LEED certifications. Houses scoring between 50%-60% get silver certifications. If the structure scores 60%-80%, it is awarded a gold certification. Buildings scoring more than 80% receive platinum awards.
If you decide to go for a LEED certification, your home is evaluated for efficiency in several different areas. Here are just a few from the checklist:
- Using recycled or sustainable materials
- Reducing energy consumption
- Reducing waste emitted into the atmosphere
- Improving indoor air quality
- Using sustainable landscaping
- Improving water efficiency
One interesting aspect of a LEED certification is how close you are to places like parks, libraries, banks, grocery stores, schools, medical centers, restaurants and post offices. When purchasing or building homes, we often don’t think about how far we have to drive to reach these places. It’s an interesting concept to think about though. If your home is located in a walkable neighborhood, you can save a lot of money on gas and reduce your carbon footprint.
How Do You Get Your Home LEED Certified?
The first step to getting a LEED certification is figuring out which energy efficient improvements you want to make to your current home, or, if you want to completely design an energy efficient home from scratch.
Once you have your project outlined, you can sign up on the USGBC website and talk to a LEED representative about your project. They’ll put you in touch with a builder and get the necessary paperwork together.
Next, you can make the upgrades or build the home based on the requirements established by the program. Your LEED representative and builder will ensure that your plans reach the standards set.
Finally, a LEED inspector will visit your home and evaluate it. Once they complete the evaluation, they’ll tally up the points, award a home rating and add it to the national database of official LEED homes.
What Are the Benefits of a LEED Certification?
Getting a LEED award will cost a bit of money and take several months, so why go through the process? Here are just a few benefits you can expect:
- You can get federal and state tax credits for making energy efficient upgrades. To find out the incentives your state offers, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
- You can reap the benefits of cost savings on monthly energy bills.
- Renewable energy and energy efficient upgrades use little, if no energy created by burning fossil fuels – reducing your carbon footprint.
- You may sell your home faster and for a higher price.
Be Cautious of Fake LEED Organizations
Be leery of organizations posing as LEED experts. Only use approved agencies provided by the USGBC. Getting a LEED certification isn’t cheap and ensuring that you have an approved professional will save you from getting ripped off.
A younger generation of homebuyers that want to live more sustainably enter the housing market daily. Adding these modifications to your home now may increase its value later. Furthermore, making energy efficient upgrades to your home will help reduce your energy consumption, saving you money on your monthly bills.
What do you think? Is spending the time and money to get your home LEED certified worth it? Share your thoughts with other Zing readers!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.