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Top Truths About LEED for Homes

The LEED for Homes rating system does not compete with existing green home building programs. A recent survey found that there are over 80 local and regional green home building programs in the U.S. The target market for LEED is the top 25 percent of new homes in terms of environmental responsibility; many of the other green home building programs target the other 75 percent of the marketplace. Additionally, USGBC works collaboratively with many of these local programs to promote green home building. 

LEED for Homes is for all types of housing

The LEED for Homes program is designed to provide industry best practices greening any new home from affordable to custom to production housing. LEED directly addresses and rewards the inherent resource efficiency of smaller, affordable homes, especially those that are built in more urban settings. A special working group of 45 national affordable housing experts was formed to review the early pilot version of LEED for Homes to assess how well it addressed the unique needs of affordable housing. Several of the first LEED homes to be certified were affordable homes. LEED also recognizes the unique needs of production home builders, and there are many production builders participating in the program. 

LEED homes are very cost-effective to build

The net cost of owning a LEED home is the same as a conventional home. A home certified at the basic “certified” level can be built for no additional costs. If there are additional upfront costs they are between 1-5%, depending on the green features the home incorporates. For an averaged priced $300,000 new home, this would be a cost increment of about $10,000 for the additional green measures. When this $10,000 cost increment is amortized over 30 years, the result is an increase in the monthly mortgage payment of approximately $70 per month. This amounts to a cost increase of about $2 per day - for all of the features and benefits of a LEED home (e.g., healthier, more comfortable, more durable, energy efficient, and environmentally responsible). However, if you also weigh in the approximately 30 percent utility bill savings from a LEED home, the utility bill savings are approximately $70 per month. 

LEED certification fees vary by Provider

The LEED for Homes Providers work at the local level on USGBC’s behalf to certify LEED homes. The Providers offer in-field, third-party verification services to builders of LEED homes and their certification fees and verification services range from $500-2000. In general, this cost breaks down into three somewhat equal parts: (1) the verification cost, (2) related consulting costs, and (3) travel costs. 


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It is important to discuss each of these costs with your Provider. In high volume housing production environments, a HERS-like sampling will be allowed. With sampling allowed at the rate of one in seven homes, verification costs for production builders will be substantially less.  
The documentation requirements for LEED are very streamlined, and only require six forms to be completed by the Provider. No additional consultants are required for LEED certification, other than the LEED for Home Provider.

LEED for Homes was developed by hundreds of experts in the building industry

Hundreds of experts have played a role in developing the LEED for Homes program. Builders have played a central role as committee members, reviewers and active pilot participants. 

Why LEED? There are over 80 local and regional green home building programs in the U.S. but there is no national consistency. There is confusion on what green home building means at a national level. Some local programs are heavily focused on energy efficiency, while others focus more on green materials or occupant health. There is a need for a more consistent definition for green home building, which is why LEED was developed. LEED defines a high performance home in five LEED environmental categories including energy, water, materials, site selection, and indoor environmental quality.        


The LEED for Homes system was designed to include different criteria for various climate regions, precipitation zones, radon zones and termite infestation zones. The program also includes a process for adding a limited number of regionally appropriate LEED points. 


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Top Truths About LEED for Homes:  Created on May 16th, 2008.  Last Modified on May 15th, 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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