If you are thinking about building a new green home, a LEED For Homes certification may be just what you are looking for. LEED—which is the most widely used green building rating system in the world—has a rating system called LEED for Homes that is specifically created to certify homes. The LEED for Homes rating system is designed to certify single-family and multifamily homes that are between one and eight stories. Residential buildings over eight stories should use the LEED BD+C: New Construction and Major Renovation rating system.
How can I get a LEED certification for my home?
The first step in certifying a home under the LEED for Homes rating system starts with project registration and payment of the registration fees at LEED Online (https://lo.usgbc.org/).
At the beginning of the project, project teams will need to hire a LEED for Homes Provider Organization, which will be responsible for overseeing all the certification process and incorporate the rating system requirements into the project’s design and construction. The LEED for Homes Provider Organization will employ a LEED for Homes Green Rater, who will conduct the in-field verification, and an energy rater, who will conduct the performance testing. Energy raters will need to have the Home Energy Rating System Rater (HERS Rater) credential, which is an energy rater credential administered by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Let’s take a look at the certification steps of a LEED for Homes project:
- The project is registered at LEED Online and registration fees are paid.
- Project teams select a LEED for Homes Provider Organization.
- Preliminary Rating: The project team, the LEED for Homes Green Rater, and the energy rater will set project goals and the targeted LEED certification level.
- Midconstruction verification visit: The LEED for Homes Green Rater and the energy rater will verify certain building systems while the building walls remain open.
- Final construction verification visit: Once the construction is over, both the LEED for Homes Green Rater and the energy rater will verify that all the rating system requirements have been met. The energy rater will conduct the required performance testing.
- The LEED for Homes Green Rater will complete and submit the LEED for Homes workbook, which is basically a template book that contains all the requested information about the project for LEED certification.
- The LEED for Homes Provider will submit the LEED for Homes Workbook to Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI); the project team will pay the certification fees. (GBCI is responsible for reviewing the submitted documents and granting the LEED certification).
- Preliminary design review is conducted by GBCI.
- If additional information is needed to evaluate the application, GBCI will ask for clarification, and the project team will send the clarification.
- GBCI will proceed with the final design review to evaluate the clarifications and report the awarded/denied prerequisites and credits to the project team.
- The project team will either accept or appeal the result.
- GBCI issues the final certification report, which shows the level of LEED certification awarded unless the certification is denied. The project teams can appeal the results if needed, and if no appeals are made, then the project will be deemed “closed out,” and the project team will no longer be able to appeal the certification level.
Getting a LEED certification for a home is a different process compared to other building types. The major difference is that LEED for Homes rating system requires in-field verification and performance testing to ensure the rating-system requirements are met on-site (which is a great think). Some activities that take place during the in-field verification may be the on-site verification of modeled building energy performance, on-site verification of the building insulation, on-site air tightness and leakage testing, and more.
If are new to LEED and want to learn more, feel free to check out our “New To LEED?” blog. For specific LEED questions, we also have a LEED blog that features different types of articles about green buildings.