Question: Mike asks: Can a home be certified LEED if it has already been built and one can show documentation of its integrative design process, on site studies and construction… thank you

Answer

Mike, unfortunately I believe the answer to your question is no. The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Rating System’s design and documentation process is somewhat intertwined, which differs from the other LEED Rating Systems (which were designed for commercial building certification).

LEED for Homes is the only rating system which requires users to work with ‘pre-approved’ entities (LEED for Homes Provider and Green Rater). LEED for Homes Providers are ‘who you call first to get started with the process. They provide administrative and technical support and prepare the final submittal package to USGBC’. They also overlook the services of the LEED for Homes Green Rater. They pass on the submittal package from the Green Rater to the USGBC.north-charleston-oak-terrace-preserve-home150

LEED for Homes Green Raters come out to the project site and actually ensure that green measures are installed (similar to the Green Globes rating system), that all performance testing is complete and that the performance benchmark is met. Green Rater might also provide assistance in understanding the LEED for Homes Program and should be included in your project from the very early design phase. They provide the LEED for Home final project checklist, the completed and signed accountability forms and durability evaluation form and inspection checklist.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a LEED for Existing Homes rating system was released at some point in the future, but for now such a thing does not exist, nor does one appear to be in development. I for one would probably pursue such a certification myself, and it does seem odd that the only acceptable LEED for Homes label comes from a requirement to build a new home. I’m of the opinion that the most ‘sustainable’ design comes from utilization of existing buildings anyway, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that.

In the meantime, you or your client can utilize existing tools for home energy performance benchmarking like the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star Home Advisor. By entering your ZIP code and some basic information about the types of fuel used to heat and cool your home, ENERGY STAR Home Advisor, located at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=home_energy_advisor.showG…, can provide you with recommended home improvement projects to increase energy efficiency and comfort in the area where you live.

The Green Home Guide, http://greenhomeguide.com/, also managed by USGBC, provides information, benefits and resources for green homes and The Home Energy Saver, http://hes.lbl.gov/, quickly computes a home’s energy use on-line based on methods developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Users can estimate how much energy and money can be saved and how much emissions can be reduced by implementing energy-efficiency improvements.

CONTRIBUTING EXPERT

imageSarah Gudeman

Sarah Gudeman is a mechanical design engineer and licensed EIT in the state of Nebraska. Ms. Gudeman also is a LEED Accredited Professional (BD+C) and an active member of the USGBC Nebraska Flatwater Chapter’s board of directors. She specializes in building energy modeling and audits, sustainable design and environmentally-friendly practices.

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