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LEED for Homes

What is LEED?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system is a third-party certification program set up by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED provides building owners and operators with the tools they need to have an immediate and measureable impact on their buildings’ performance.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

LEED for Homes is a point based system. There are four levels of certification that can be attainded based upon your total points earned. The lowest level is Certified. The second level is Silver. The third level is Gold. The highest possible certification is Platinum.

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Why Use LEED?

For new home construction, many states and local governments offer significant tax incentives for building a LEED certified home. In Maryland, most tax incentives are at the county level. In Baltimore County, LEED certified new homes are eligible for a three year property tax credit. For Silver, it's a 40% property tax credit. For Gold, it's 60%. And for Platinum certification, it's three years of FREE property taxes.

What are the costs?

You will need to hire a USGBC certified LEED for Homes inspector for your project. They will work with you to achieve your desired level of LEED certification. The cost for the certification process is normally between $5,000 and $6,000. But most homeowners will find that the tax credits far outweigh that cost. In addition, LEED certification can add significant value to your home.

How does it work?

LEED point are broken into eight distinct categories as follows:

Innovation and Design (ID)

Location and Linkages (LL)

Sustainable Sites (SS)

Water Efficiency (WE)

Energy and Atmosphere (EA)

Materials and Resources (MR)

Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)

Awareness and Education (AE)

Some categories have prerequisites that must be met regardless of whether you are claiming points in that area (ID, SS, EA, MR and EQ). Other categories have a minimum number of points that must be attained regardless of the number of points you are claiming (SS, WE, MR, and EQ). Some points are mutually exclusive. If you claim certain points, you cannot claim a similar overlapping item in another section.

When you begin using the LEED for Homes Checklist (which is presented as an Excel spreadsheet), it can seem a bit overwhelming. But, over time, you will find that the process is actually quite logical, simple, and straightforward. With a few hours of practice, work, and planning, you should be able to determine the number of points your project can reasonably be expected to attain.

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