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Green Home Design - learn about LEED eligibility requirements

Green Home Design - LEED Eligibility

LEED For Homes, Find useful green building tips and suggestions for building a LEED rated home.

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If the words "eligibility requirements" make you want to turn and run, you aren't alone. However, when it comes to a LEED rated home, it's not that bad. Really, the eligibility requirements just mean that the USGBC wants you to be truly concerned about building green, as opposed to "greenwashing", which is the process of talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

Here Are Some Of The Basic Eligibility Requirements Set Forth By The USGBC:

First off a LEED home cannot be partially certified. It is an all-in process. You must go for the whole tamale. You've got to meet all the prerequisites. There's no other way!

The home must be deemed a dwelling unit, in other words it must have provisions for living, eating, sleeping, cooking and sanitation. That ought to be easy enough.

You MUST work with a LEED certified provider. This will be the person that acts as the liaison between the homeowner, builder, rater and the USGBC. Involve this professional as soon as you can in the process.

Typically projects cannot pursue a LEED green home rating after drywall has been installed and all necessary pre-drywall inspections have been made. That means you've got to start early! There's no getting halfway through the project and then deciding you want a LEED green home rating.

LEED Platinum Home

LEED Platinum Home

Projects that can qualify:
    Detached Single-Family Homes (Private Custom Homes)
    Attached Single-Family Homes (Townhouses)
    Attached Single-Family Homes (Townhouses)
    Low-Rise Multi-Family (1 to 3 Stores High)
    Gut/Rehab (To Qualify The Building Must Meet The Substantial Rehab Guidelines)
    Manufactured and Modular (Only individual homes placed on the site can qualify - manufactures cannot)
    Mixed Use (Qualifies if 50% or more of the total floor area is dedicated to residential use)
    Dormitories and Assisted Living (Only if these facilities have qualified cooking and bathroom facilities)
Home Size Adjuster:

Are you planning on building a really big home? If you want a LEED green home rating, you may change your mind after looking at the size adjuster.

The guidelines explain the rationale for rewarding smaller, more compact design with either a more neutral point adjustment or a reward in points is based on the fact that larger homes consume more materials and energy in the life-cycle of the home. Average homes are given a neutral rating. The point benefit or penalty is on a sliding scale based on number of bedrooms and total living area of the home. See the table below for all the values.

You can go from a 10 point reward for building a 5-Bedroom home with 1,530 sq. ft to a 10 penalty for building a 4,430 sq. ft. home with 5 bedrooms. Is your home even larger? Download the LEED Guidelines for a complete table and area adjusters.

While the Home Size Adjuster is not really a prerequisite, it is pretty major if you are building a larger or smaller home. If you want to reduce your footprint read the article on reducing your home's footprint for ideas on how to minimize your living area.

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Your First Step Is To Explore Eligibility

Your First Step Is To Explore Eligibility

LEED Green Home Eligibility: Here are the real Prerequisites: Innovation and Design Process (ID)
    Preliminary Rating
    Durability Planning
    Wet Room Measures
    Quality Management
Location and Linkages (LL)
    No Prerequisites
Sustainable Sites (SS)
    Site Stewardship
    No Invasive Plants
Water Efficiency (WE)
    No Prerequisites
Energy and Atmosphere (EA)
    Energy Star Home
Materials and Resources (MR)
    Material Efficient Framing
    All Tropical Woods Used Must Be FSC certified
    Document Overall Waste Management
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
    All Appliances Shall Be Combustion Vented
    Outdoor Air Ventilation: Meet ASHRAE Standard 62.2
    Local Exhaust: Meet ASHRAE Standard 62.2
    Supply Air Distribution: Meets ACCA Manual D
    Supply Air Filtering: >= 8 MERV Filters
    Install Radon Protection Plan in in EQA Zone 1
    No Air Handling Equipment OR Return Air Ducts In Garage
Awareness and Education: (AE)
    Basic Occupant's Manual and Walkthrough of LEED Home.

Had Enough? Ready to Quit?

Don't worry, as most of these items are easy to meet and would comply with even a well designed contemporary home that is of standard quality. All these terms though - it makes your head spin.

Again, set your mind at ease. These are just standards that USGBC wants the building to meet. Most, if not all, of these standards will be handled by your LEED provider, rater and your general contractor and his subs. As you can see, choosing the right team is very important!

As you may have noticed, most of the qualification are in the IEQ section. The reasoning behind this is simple, that's where we focus on the energy and environmental aspects of the home.

One thing you should make absolutely certain of is that you general building contractor is totally on-board with this process, has taken LEED training and can show you samples of prior work in which he was involved with a LEED project. What you don't want is on-the-job-training with your builder.