Understanding LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is an organization dedicated to environmentally conscious architecture and construction. USGBC developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, a voluntary green design certification system for residential, business, and municipal buildings. LEED for Homes provides a great guideline for builders and homeowners invested in sustainable building design.

© TreeLine Homes

Although LEED is a rigorous model to follow, it is a valuable tool for creating high performing, energy efficient houses. It’s also a recognizable marker of sustainability, since the program is a distinguished symbol of green design. In a nutshell, LEED certification can lower utility costs, while increasing the value of a home.

LEED has a rating system that measures efficiency and conservation levels in a home, so it serves as a checklist for homeowners and builders. The four possible rankings that a home can earn are: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The USGBC designates the grade based on a points system, and while all LEED-approved homes are high performing, the Platinum grade is the highest possible score a home can earn.

In order to be ranked and authorized as a LEED property, owners must enroll their home design project with USGBC and pay a registration fee, preferably before they begin construction. As they follow the guidelines, which include using sustainable building materials and investing in energy saving or producing devices, homeowners and builders will work with official Verification Teams to ensure that they are meeting the LEED standards throughout the entire process. Upon completion, USGBC will finally review and grade a house based on its ecological productivity. As an example, a net zero energy residence will receive the highest LEED evaluation—a Platinum ranking.

Recently, the USGBC expanded its LEED rating system by recognizing the water and energy conservation requirements of the Living Building Challenge. The LBC is another certification program that encourages sustainable housing, with strict water and energy conservation models that align with USGBC’s own goals. By including LBC’s credentials into their own accreditation structure, the organization is making LEED a more comprehensive green building design guideline.

leed2© TreeLine Homes

Obtaining LEED credentials is a growing trend with homeowners throughout the country. Here in Boulder, our strong green building standards are already in line with much of the USCBC’s measures for sustainable living. Some local residents may feel that a stamp of approval or an official license is an unnecessary step, if their home meets their own high criterion.

Whether you prefer getting certified or want to use LEED as a more general tool, we can help you achieve your design goals. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the LEED certification program, connect with us at: [email protected]


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