What measures determine if a home is green? Does using recycled materials make a home green? How about locating the home on reclaimed land? Or, what if the homeowners have energy bills significantly lower than those for a similar-sized conventional home?
According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it takes more than using a few sustainable practices to build a high-performance green home. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building) is a cutting edge system used for designing, constructing, and certifying green buildings, and it is the nationally accepted benchmark for high performance green building.
The 8 categories and the total possible points for each are as follows:
1. Innovation and Design Process. 9 possible points are given for using special design methods, unique regional credits, measures not currently addressed in the Rating System, and exemplary performance levels.
2. Location and Linkages. 10 possible points are given for placing homes in socially and environmentally responsible ways in relation to the larger community.
3. Sustainable Sites. 21 possible points are given for using the entire property so as to minimize the project’s impact on the site.
4. Water Efficiency. 15 possible points are given for indoor and outdoor water conservation practices built in to the home.
5. Energy and Atmosphere. 38 possible points are given for improving energy efficiency, particularly in the building envelope and heating and cooling design.
6. Materials and Resources. 14 possible points are given for selecting environmentally preferable materials, efficiently using materials, and minimizing waste during construction.
7. Indoor Environmental Quality. 20 possible points are given for improving indoor air quality by reducing possible air pollution.
8. Awareness and Education. 3 possible points are given for educating the homeowner, tenant, and building manager (for larger multifamily buildings) about the operations and maintenance of their home’s green features.