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Energy Performance in LEED for Homes

With energy prices skyrocketing and the temperature continuing to spike, most homeowners dread receiving their energy bill in the height of summer. But what most homeowners don’t realize is that they could own a high performance home that requires much less energy. 


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Until recently, home buyers selected their new homes without much consideration of operating costs associated with energy and water use. Also, they rarely considered the full environmental impacts of a home. Generally, location, aesthetics, and investment potential were the primary decision factors. But, with the growing awareness of climate change, and rising energy prices, home owners are rethinking the energy conservation choices available to them. 

Simple green home building strategies and technologies—like siting your home to take advantage of natural shading and daylight—can dramatically reduce power needs. High performance or green homes also offer improved comfort, a healthier indoor atmosphere, improved durability, and environmentally responsible use of materials.
Energy performance of a LEED certified home is at least 15-20 percent better than a comparable home built to code. The average pilot LEED Home offers utility savings of 40% percent.


LEED for Homes, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) rating system for high performance or green homes emphasizes the energy performance of a home achieved through the home’s envelope, the heating/cooling systems, and any renewable energy systems. To certify a home under the LEED system, homes must meet or exceed the ENERGY STAR for Homes criteria as a prerequisite, which means that the energy performance of a LEED certified home is at least 15-20 percent better than a comparable home built to code. The average pilot LEED Home offers utility savings of 40% percent. Thus, a LEED home is certified to include this level of energy performance, plus many other benefits among the other resource categories of materials, sites, water, and indoor air quality.

All LEED Homes are third-party inspected, performance tested, and certified to be higher-performing than conventional homes. New home buyers can simply look for and purchase homes that are LEED certified. The third party LEED rating will assure them that the home uses energy, water and other resources wisely. LEED serves as a way to verify that home buyers get exactly what they expect and that their new homes live up to their green billing. LEED certified homes will likely sell more quickly and have higher resale values. For more information about LEED for Homes, visit .


What is LEED?

LEED for Homes is a voluntary rating system that promotes the design and construction of high performance "green" homes. A green home uses less energy, water, and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants. Benefits of a LEED home include lower energy and water bills; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins. The net cost of owning a LEED home is comparable to that of owning a conventional home.

The LEED Rating System is the nationally recognized standard for green building. LEED certification recognizes and rewards builders for meeting the highest performance standards, and gives homeowners confidence that their home is durable, healthy, and environmentally friendly.

LEED: At No Extra Cost 


The following is a brief example of the monthly net cost of ownership of a LEED home.

Owning a LEED Certified Home does not cost one penny more than owning a conventional home when you factor in the energy and water savings. LEED certified homes save 30% of water and 15-20% of energy, which averages out to about $70 per month in utility bill savings. 

The typical cost of an entry level LEED home is about 3 to 5 percent higher than a conventional home – which translates to about $2 per day. For an average priced $300,000 new home, this means a cost increment of about $10,000 for the additional green measures (including the verification costs) – which translates into an increase in the monthly mortgage of approximately $70 per month. The increase in the cost of the monthly mortgage payment for the LEED certified home is about the same as the monthly utility bill savings. So a home buyer can purchase a new home that is built to meet the minimum building code, or they can chose a LEED Home with all of its benefits, and on a monthly cost of ownership basis, the two homes cost the same.



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Energy Performance in LEED for Homes:  Created on June 21st, 2007.  Last Modified on January 12th, 2010


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About The U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green homes and buildings. LEED gives home and building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their homes' or buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The Green Home Guide is a resource created by the U.S. Green Building Council.



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