What is LEED?

LEED for Homes is an initiative designed to promote the transformation of the mainstream homebuilding industry toward more sustainable practices. LEED for Homes is targeting the top 25% of new homes with best practice environmental features. LEED for Homes is a collaborative initiative that actively works with all sectors of the homebuilding industry.

By recognizing sustainable design and construction in homes nationwide, LEED for Homes helps home builders differentiate their homes as some of the best homes in their markets, using a recognized national brand. Furthermore, homebuyers can more readily identify third-party verified green homes.

While there are already a number of local or regional green homebuilding programs, LEED for Homes is attempting to provide national consistency in defining the features of a green home and to enable builders anywhere in the country to obtain a green rating on their homes. LEED for Homes represents a consensus standard for green homebuilding developed and refined by a diverse cadre of national experts and experienced green builders. The LEED for Homes Rating System is part of the comprehensive suite of LEED assessment tools offered by USGBC to promote sustainable design, construction, and operations practices in buildings nationwide.

The LEED for Homes Rating System measures the overall performance of a home in eight categories:

  1. Innovation & Design Process (ID). Special design methods, unique regional credits, measures not currently addressed in the Rating System, and exemplary performance levels.
  2. Location & Linkages (LL). The placement of homes in socially and environmentally responsible ways in relation to the larger community.
  3. Sustainable Sites (SS). The use of the entire property so as to minimize the project’s impact on the site.
    Water Efficiency (WE). Water-efficient practices, both indoor and outdoor.
  4. Energy & Atmosphere (EA). Energy efficiency, particularly in the building envelope and heating and cooling design.
    Materials & Resources (MR). Efficient utilization of materials, selection of environmentally preferable materials, and minimization of waste during construction.
  5. Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ). Improvement of indoor air quality by reducing the creation of and exposure to pollutants.
  6. Awareness & Education (AE). The education of homeowner, tenant, and/or building manager about the operation and maintenance of the green features of a LEED home.

The LEED for Homes Rating System works by requiring a minimum level of performance through prerequisites, and rewarding improved performance in each of the above categories. The level of performance is indicated by four performance tiers – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum – according to the number of points earned:

  • Certified 45-59
  • Silver 60-74
  • Gold 75-89
  • Platinum 90-136
  • Total available points 136

The number of points for each certification level is adjusted for smaller-than-average and larger-than-average homes using a mechanism called the Home Size Adjustment.

The Rating System guarantees minimum levels of sustainable practice through 18 prerequisites in the eight credit categories. At the same time, projects enjoy flexibility with the wide variety of credits available to achieve certification. Credit Interpretation Requests (CIRs) are also available to projects that seek clarification or special consideration on specific credits.