om Russell of Hendricks Architecture recently became a LEED AP, or Accredited Professional. LEED Accredited Professionals have, according to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), "demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building techniques, the LEED Green Building Rating System, and the certification process." The USGBC is a non-profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.
The LEED certification process has several rating systems that are specific to different building types and project scopes. LEED for Homes is a fairly new product that was launched in January 2008, after a few pilot versions. It promotes the design and construction of high performance green homes. By using a standardized documentation system, LEED for Homes assures owners that their home has meet rigorous criteria for energy efficiency, occupant health, and minimized environmental impact.
The conventional wisdom is that building a green home or doing a green remodel is much more costly. While in many instances this is true, it is not always the case. It is important to consider long term costs when comparing green building to more conventional construction. First costs can often be offset by long term savings in energy use, maintenance, and reduced equipment needs. The USGBC contends that the net cost of owning a LEED home is comparable to that of a conventional home. It is also worthwhile to consider the intangible benefits of a green home, things like improved health, a cleaner environment, and less dependence on conventional energy sources.
For clients interested in achieving LEED certification for their projects, it is important to have a LEED AP involved as part of the design/construction team. They can help guide you through the certification process, which can be complex and time consuming. Having a LEED AP involved also gains your project a point towards certification.
For homeowners interested in a home that is "built green" but not LEED certified, it is always an option to employ green strategies, products and technologies without going through a certification process. While LEED certification offers assurance of a buildings performance, it is possible to have the same level of performance without being certified. For those considering resale value, LEED certification would likely add value to any piece of real estate because it is a verifiable standard that is recognized nationwide.
For any of our clients interested in building a green home or doing a green remodel, we have the knowledge and expertise to assist you. Whether you are going to pursue LEED certification or you simply want a healthy, energy efficient, low impact home, we would love to talk to you about achieving your goals.
Tom Russell, Architect, LEED AP, Hendricks Architecture