Green House Plans: Benefits of LEED Certification
Green, schmeen – as long as we’re being environmentally conscious, one approach is as good as another, right? Well, no, not as far as sustainable home design is concerned. While many industries are still struggling to set environmental standards, the construction field already has a well-established system for judging green house plans: LEED certification.
The U.S. Green Building Council designed LEED certification for both commercial and residential buildings. There are several different levels of certification available: certified, silver, gold and platinum. As you can probably guess, platinum LEED certification is the highest level of sustainable house design and construction. More and more homeowners are clamoring for LEED certification, and for good reason. The American homebuilding industry is one of the world’s largest contributors of toxic waste and energy consumption.
LEED certification is considered the best way to choose green house plans, namely because it is comprehensive. Rather than focusing on a single area of home design and construction, LEED certification looks at every aspect, including energy and water use, indoor air quality, choice of sustainable construction materials and thoughtful land use. Additionally, LEED certification is rigorous. It’s not easy for sustainable house plans to be LEED certified; every home must be inspected and tested before it earns certification. For these reasons, LEED certification is the considered the paragon of sustainable home design.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for sustainable home design. It’s nearly impossible to detect a LEED certified home from a non-green home at first glance. Chances are you can have all of the features you want in LEED certified sustainable house plans. Just because you want to help save the planet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your dreams.
Indeed, those who have lived in a home constructed from green house plans can verify that there are plenty of benefits to LEED Certification:
Universally recognized standard for green building.
LEED certification will show your green roots to your neighbors, family, clients and peers. Your good example might even convince a few of them to opt for sustainable house design, as well.
State and local environmental incentives.
Many environmental building incentives require LEED certification.
Lower energy and water costs.
One of the best outcomes of building with sustainable house plans is that you will save tons on energy and water bills over the long run. As an example of how this might work, sustainable home design may include a rain harvesting system, which significantly cuts city water demands.
Better air quality.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air may be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. LEED certification requires builders to consider air quality in their sustainable house plans. For instance, some model LEED certified homes feature a detached garage; this improves air quality by isolating combustible gases and other toxic fumes.
The LEED certification process includes eight different segments of sustainable house design. The innovation and design process, for instance, requires builders to include durability strategies to make a new home last longer with little need for costly repairs down the road.
Guaranteed walkability and access to transit.
LEED certification for homes includes a category called “Location and Linkages,” which describes accessibility to grocery stores, daycare centers, places of worship and many other key destinations. People generally enjoy being able to walk to stores, restaurants and other attractions. If you’re hoping for a more walkable lifestyle, look for a LEED certified home that has been built from green house plans.
Homeowners’ manual included.
LEED certification awards points for consumer awareness and education. In this way, the LEED system encourages builders to provide information on how to use and maintain the various green technologies that have come to fruition from green house plans. Most LEED builders include a detailed homeowners’ manual and a personal walk-through to explain how to take care of your new green home.
Fewer toxic fumes.
Did you know that vinyl, paint and many other home construction materials can release toxic chemicals? Vinyl, for instance, releases off-gases that have been linked to cancer. The LEED certification category for materials and resources awards builders points for choosing earth-friendly, toxin-free materials. With LEED certified green house plans, you can rest assured that the materials in your home won’t poison your family.
These are only a few of the many benefits that come with residential LEED certification.
Note: The home shown above is The Park Place House Plan 1164ES (rear view).