LEED for Homes is a third-party rating system used to quantify the advantages of owning a green home. LEED, or Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, is a program to promote green building, and provide a basis for builders to make practical and efficient decisions on how to make their designs more ‘green’. LEED for Homes focuses on the quantitative savings and impact of green homes on the environment.
The LEED for Homes rating system is based on eight sections of the home’s performance: Site Selection, Water Efficiency, Materials & Resources, Energy and Atmosphere, Indoor Environmental Quality, Location & Linkages, Awareness & Education, and Innovation. Each home is evaluated on its satisfactory performance/completion in each category, and achieves LEED-certification through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
Green starts with blue – meeting ENERGY STAR certification requirements is the first step of building a green home. The average LEED-certified home may have a 20-30% decrease in energy consumption when compared to a standard-built home. Reduced energy usage provides cost saving to the homeowner, and less impact on the environment.
Benefits of owning a green, LEED-certified home include a healthier indoor environment (better air quality); increased durability and comfort; improved energy efficiency (30 to 60% better than standard-built homes); and reduced impact on the environment. While the initial build cost of a green home may be slightly inflated, the energy savings result in a relatively quick pay back and then some.
Habitat for Humanity LEED certified homes qualify for the Initiative for Affordable Housing. This project, funded by The Home Depot Foundation helps to cover the initial cost of green building construction. By the end of 2011, Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County, Inc. had built four ENERGY STAR rated, LEED certified green and affordable homes. The houses are located on Hillside Avenue and Schenectady Street in the City of Schenectady.