LEED and Homes

LEED homesA home is more than just shelter: homes are the most important buildings in our lives. We think that every building should be a green building—but especially homes. Why? 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. Some of the most important buildings in the world use LEED. Shouldn't the most important building in everyone's world use LEED, too?

What's LEED?
Launched in 2000, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world's most widely used green building rating system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the rating system was designed to guide green buildings for all sectors and stages of development.

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.

Who it's for

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.

  1. LEED Building Design + Construction: Homes & Multifamily Lowrise—Designed for single family homes and multifamily buildings between one and three stories.
  2. LEED Building Design + Construction: Multifamily Midrise—Designed for midrise multifamily buildings between four and eight stories.
How does LEED make my home better?

Four critical ways:

  1. Health: LEED-certified homes are designed to maximize fresh air indoors and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
How it works

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.

Why should I build a LEED home?

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.

How can consumers compare 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.

How much will it cost for my home to become LEED certified?

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.

Getting started

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.

Contact a Homes Provider in your area, or review USGBC’s guide Getting Started with Homes.