So you’ve decided you’re going to build your own home. Already you can picture the angular modern facade, sleek contemporary interiors and light streaming in from the full-height windows. You spend hours dreaming about paint colors, kitchen fittings and the new spa bath.
“Have you thought about LEED certification?” your architect inquires. LEED certification? You scour your memory bank of house-building research and draw a blank. Noting the puzzled look on your face, the architect launches into an explanation. Phrases such as ‘energy performance’, ‘pest-control’ and ‘volatile organic compounds’ float over your head.
Sound familiar? If you’ve put LEED in the ‘too difficult’ or ‘only for hardened environmentalists’ box, then it’s time to reconsider. Because although the focus of LEED is environmental performance, the benefits of LEED certification are far wider.
What do you want your home to be?
Let’s consider some different questions:
- Do you want your new home to be durable, designed as a home for life?
- Do you consider it as an investment, either for the short or long term?
- Are you looking for quality in your build and assurance that there haven’t been any cut corners?
- Do you want a healthy environment for your family to live in?
- Are you keen to reduce the running costs of your home?
Answer yes to all of the above? Then that is why you should consider LEED certification for your new home.
What is LEED?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification scheme run by the US Green Building Council. By including specified features and criteria in the design and build of your home, you earn points which add up a LEED rating, from Certified up to Platinum.
The criteria are grouped into eight categories which cover everything from site selection, to choice of materials and the level of air quality within the finished build. You can find more information on LEED criteria here, but for now, let’s look at the benefits of getting LEED accreditation for your project.
You can’t get LEED accreditation just by writing a few things down on a scrap of paper. The certification process involves on-site inspections (both during the build and after completion) and performance testing, to make sure everything works as it’s supposed to.
So in effect, what you’re getting is an independent quality check of the work that’s being done. This gives you the assurance that you’re getting the high performance home that you’re paying for. And if any problems do arise during the build process, they can be picked up early and get sorted well before you move in. Better prevention than a cure!
A core element of the LEED standard is around efficiency. Even the basic LEED Certified home is designed to use up to thirty percent less energy than standard builds, and a Platinum-rated home will save around sixty percent compared to a non-LEED home.
Add in water efficiency measures, and future-proofing from energy price rises and stormwater fees, and the bill savings soon start to rack up.
We take it for granted that our homes are safe places to live. But scientific studies have found that levels of indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than levels outdoors.
The good news is that by ensuring effective ventilation and using the right materials, you can significantly improve the air quality in your home. LEED homes use ventilation systems, high-efficiency filters and other controls, so you can be sure that your new home is a healthy home.
If you’re building your dream home, you want it to last a lifetime. Or preferably several lifetimes, so you can pass it on to your children, and grandchildren.
Every LEED home has a durability checklist to make sure that regional home quality construction issues are addressed. An independent third-party will then verify this checklist and carry out an inspection to make sure everything is compliant. So you can be assured that your home is built to last.
Whether you plan to keep your new home for two years or twenty, you want to be sure you’ve made a good investment. A 2015 study of home sales in Washington, D.C. found that ‘green’ homes sold for a premium of up to 7.7 percent. A similar study in California found that homes with a sustainability certification (such as LEED) sold for nine percent more than comparable, non-labelled homes.
LEED certified homes are desirable to buyers. After all, who wouldn’t want a property that’s proven to be high quality, sustainable and cheap to run?
How much does it cost to build a LEED certified home?
You’d typically expect to pay a bit more up-front for a LEED certified home. The US Green Building Council consider the average up-front additional cost of building a LEED certified home is around 2.4 percent. However, this doesn’t take into account the energy and water savings you’ll be making over the lifetime of the home, which will soon outweigh this initial investment.
It’s also worth noting that there are various financial incentive programs, particularly for renewable technologies, that are worth investigating if you’re looking to go down this route.
A SEED Home is a LEED home
LEED certification is core to our commitment to design and deliver high quality, contemporary homes. This is why every home we build is LEED Certified. If you’d like to talk to an expert about designed a home that is both stylish and sustainable, get in touch with us today.