Sustainability is a passion and a way of life for many people. But for all of the day-to-day green living efforts you might employ, sometimes you need to step back and look at the big picture.
This is where LEED Certification comes into play. Standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED certification has the goal of using renewable or recycled materials when building a home to maximize its energy efficiency and lessen its environmental impact.
According to LEED, the typical household spends $2,150 on annual energy bills, but a LEED Certified house is designed to reduce energy use from 30–60 percent. In addition to the energy savings, LEED also states that green certified homes fetch higher prices on the market.
How Does the LEED Certification Process Work?
When you want to build or remodel a home or business to achieve LEED Certification, you work with a team from the United States Green Building Council for evaluation and certification. For each area of sustainability, the project scores one point.
For example, a project may earn points for using recycled wood or installing a small wind generator. Depending on the number of points a project gathers up, the building can be designated as Certified, with higher rankings of Silver, Gold and Platinum.
What Makes a LEED Certified Building?
It depends upon the type of building you're working on and whether it's new construction or a renovation. Here is the list of available options, each of which has its own defining requirements.
For a great example of new residential construction, you should do a virtual tour of this new home in Connecticut. Some expected features include triple-glazed windows, solar panels to heat water, and photovoltaic panels to power the energy-efficient light fixtures and top-rated Energy Star appliances.
But real sustainability enthusiasts will appreciate the exterior siding being made from local white cedar abundant in the Northeast, while the roof shingles are made of recycled rubber and plastic. Inside, the kitchen cupboards are made of reclaimed oak, and the counter tops are cement made with recycled glass. In the winter, the great room's concrete flooring is warmed by the sun and inlaid hot-water tubing.
If you are interested in learning more about LEED Certification and what that could mean for you, check out which homes, businesses and government buildings in your city or state are LEED Certified.