The acronym LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This program assesses a building design, from conception to completion, in terms of energy efficiency, air quality, water usage, and the choice of building materials. It also addresses the environmental factors, including access to public transportation and responsible use of land.
The program itself is sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Projects that participate in the program are awarded certification based on different certification criteria. With each of the criteria, different points are awarded -Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), and Platinum (80+ points).
Why LEED Certifications Are Beneficial
Obtaining LEED certification demonstrates environmental responsibility and responsible building practices. Not only can this boost the building owner and contractor’s reputation, but it also provides the framework to create healthy and highly efficient green buildings that save the owner’s money. The certifications are recognized worldwide and are the standards most widely recognized for green building ratings globally.
Cost Savings Benefits
LEED-certified buildings are built to be energy-efficient. With minimal energy usage, these homes are designed to use 30 to 60% less energy than comparable homes that are built to the International Energy Conservation Code. The potential reductions include:
- Up to 30% for Certified
- Approximately 30% for Silver
- Approximately 48% for Gold
- Between 50 and 60% for Platinum
Creates Additional Building Value
Studies that have been done for both green residential and green commercial buildings have found that these buildings maintain value longer than those that are not. Green homes sell at higher prices and are on the market less time than conventional homes. Resale values are also much higher for these types of homes, almost 30% higher than conventionally built homes.
Better Air Quality
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the air indoors is two to ten times more polluted than the air outdoors. Buildings built to the LEED standards are designed to maximize ventilation and minimize pollutants. On-site testing and inspections are conducted to ensure that the air quality is up to the quality standards.
When it comes to becoming certified, there has to be a positive impact on the environment. Many green homes go as far as to incorporate other fuel sources by using wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass energy sources. The idea is to adopt sustainable measures for energy that have a minimal impact on the environment.
Builders can often receive tax credits for building homes that are LEED Certified. These types of homes may also help to reduce insurance rates and premiums. These homes are likely to increase in value versus decreasing.
The Overall Value of LEED Certification
While most of the benefits for certification go to the construction companies, these environmentally savvy homes have more curb appeal to buyers than the conventional homes and buildings on the market today.
The idea of a building that is energy-efficient reduces water and energy usage, improves air quality, and is environmentally sustainable is more attractive for buyers. With global recognition, these homes and buildings that include these certifications are instantly recognized as green construction.