One of my favorite architects, Samuel Mockbee, once stated, “Everyone wants the same thing, rich or poor - not only a warm, dry room, but a shelter for the soul.” A home is so much more than a few walls to keep you safe from the elements. A home is the place that provides you comfort, that provides a center to the chaos of life, and provides you a warm and safe environment to grow in. Choosing your home is an incredibly important decision, and it is why we at Focus on Green take such deep pride in making homes more energy efficient, healthier, and more comfortable. We do this by working with programs like LEED® for Homes, Enterprise Green Communities, and Energy Star.
There are several benefits to using a program like LEED for Homes on your new home.
It provides another level of quality assurance to your home.
Your home is designed with your health and comfort in mind.
Your home is designed to maximize its energy and water efficiency, leading to lower utility bills.
Your home is designed to have less negative impact on the environment.
Let me explain this in a little more detail.
LEED for Homes requires a third-party to verify and test particular ‘green’ features of your home throughout the design and construction process. This verification team is separate from your architect and builder. The verification team is composed of a LEED for Homes Green Rater, a LEED for Homes Provider, and an Energy Rater (oftentimes the same person as the Green Rater). The verification team will work with your architect and builder to ensure that the team has set several sustainability goals in relation to where the home is located, how it is designed, how it is constructed, and how it will be operated. The goals fall under seven main LEED Categories:
Location and Transportation – Location and Transportation (LT) credits reward the choice of site locations that promote environmentally responsible land-use patterns and neighborhoods and offer environmental advantages over conventional developments.* (read more about all categories here.)
Sustainable Sites - The Sustainable Sites (SS) category rewards project teams for designing the site to minimize adverse environmental effects.
Water Efficiency – The Water Efficiency (WE) category rewards project teams for designing homes to use less potable water both indoors and outdoors.
Energy & Atmosphere – The Energy & Atmosphere (EA) category rewards project teams for optimizing the energy efficiency features of the home, requiring the home to use less energy to perform its day to day functions.
Materials & Resources – The Materials & Resources (MR) category rewards projects for generating less waste, using environmentally preferable products, and focusing on the durability of the home.
Indoor Environmental Quality – The Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) category rewards projects for preventing air pollution and improving indoor quality and comfort in the home.
Innovation – The Innovation (IN) category rewards project teams for using an integrative process and incorporating innovative elements of sustainable design that may not be addressed in the LEED for Homes Rating System.
Once these goals are set, the verification team will work with the project team to make sure these goals are apparent in the project drawings – and then as it moves into construction, the team will go to the site to make sure the goals are being implemented. The Green Rater will walk the site multiple times, but one particularly is during the pre-drywall stage. The energy rater/green rater will visually inspect the quality of the insulation install, the air sealing measures, durability practices, and several other items from the LEED for Homes Checklist. At this stage, the energy rater can also perform a duct blaster test – which tests how leaky the ducts are. There will also be additional performance testing at the final stage (after construction completion and before the owner has moved in). During this inspection, the rater will visually inspect several of the LEED Checklist items, perform a duct blaster test and a blower door test, as well as potentially perform other air quality tests. A blower door tests the overall tightness of a home. By making a home tighter and adding controlled mechanical ventilation, homes can be more efficient with better air quality. These additional inspections by the verification team are a crucial part of what makes LEED for Homes so powerful as a tool for homeowners to use. The verification team is essentially acting as an owner’s representative to ensure that the sustainability goals established at the beginning of the project are achieved throughout the project life cycle.
At the end of this process, you now have a home that has greater comfort, costs less to live in, is more durable, and was designed and constructed with its environmental impact in mind. Future buyers are able to acknowledge those characteristics when they see that LEED logo associated with the home. A LEED Home is one that can fit into Samuel Mockbee’s definition of a home: not just a warm, dry room – but a shelter for the soul.
If you are interested in learning more about LEED for Homes, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would love to tell you more! Below are two great resource to find out more about the sustainability measures within the Rating System and why those initiatives are important for your home.
Health Impact Assessments + Enterprise Green Communities