The Definition of Green Building
Green building is a holistic concept that starts with understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment and the people who inhabit buildings every day. Green building is an effort to amplify the positive and mitigate the negative of these effects throughout the entire life cycle of a building.
While there are many different definitions of green building, it is generally accepted as the planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings with central considerations towards: energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, material section and the building's effects on its site.
LEED is Green Building
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design acts as a framework for decision-making for projects which rewards the best practices and innovation through recognizing exemplary building projects with different levels of LEED certification.
Benefits of LEED-Certified Homes: Savings, Value, Well-Being, and Trustworthy
Savings: Reducing Energy & Water Consumption. The typical household spends about $2,150 a year on residential energy bills.1 LEED for Homes projects must meet ENERGY STAR for Homes, which can cut energy bills by 20%,2 saving between $200 to $400 annually, adding up to potentially thousands of dollars saved over the seven or eight years that the typical homeowner lives in a home.
LEED-certified homes are: Built to be energy-efficient, ensuring that the home can be comfortably heated and cooled with minimal energy usage; Individually tested to minimize envelope and ductwork leakage; Designed to minimize indoor and outdoor water usage; Predicted to use an estimated 30 to 60% less energy than a comparable home built to International Energy Conservation Code.
Based on the average HERS ratings for each level of LEED certification, these homes could potentially see energy reductions of up to 30% (for LEED Certified homes), Approximately 30% (for LEED Silver homes), Approximately 48% (for LEED Gold homes), 50-60% (for LEED Platinum homes)
Value: Green Homes are Dream Homes. Consumers ranked green/energy efficiency as their top requirement for their dream homes. 60% said that green and energy efficient are amenities they want in their next home. 3 A 2008 study conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction and USGBC found that the mean price of green homes purchased by survey respondents was $296,000; the median was $239,000
Green homes can be built for the same cost as, and even less than, conventional homes. Sometimes there are upfront costs which on average are 2.4% and can be quickly recouped with the homeowners saving money for the rest of the home's lifespan. 4 Green homes have a higher resale value and are on the market for less time than comparable conventional homes. The Earth Advantage Study in 2011 found that, on average, green-certified new homes sold for 8% more than non-certified green homes. Resales of existing green homes sold for an average of 30% more than conventional homes.5
Well Being: LEED-certified homes improve indoor air quality by requiring proper ventilation, high efficiency air filters and other similar measures to reduce mold and mildew.
Trustworthy: Each LEED home undergoes onsite inspections, detailed documentation review, and as-built performance testing. More than 196,500 units have been registered under the LEED for Homes rating system. 82,000 of those units have been certified under LEED for Homes; as of 2015 nearly half of those units are in the affordable housing sector. It is estimated that by 2016 the green single-family housing market will represent 26%-33% of the market. 42% percent of LEED-certified home units fall in the affordable housing sector
Environmental Impact of the Residential Market
Energy: Households use about one-fifth of the total energy consumed in the U.S. each year; the residential sector is responsible for 21% of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.7 Since 1985, residential energy consumption, measured as total energy (i.e., including electricity losses), increased overall by about 34%.8 It's expected that by 2016, 90% of all residential construction will have energy efficient features. 9 To date, more than 1 million ENERGY STAR-qualified homes constructed save consumers an estimated $200 million annually in utility bills.10
Water: Total U.S. residential energy consumption is projected to increase 17 % from 1995 – 2015. 11 Total residential water use: 29.40 billion gallons per day or 7.1% of U.S. total water use.12
Waste: Total estimated construction and demolition (C&D) generation amount for residential construction in 2003: 10 million tons. Average residential C&D debris generation rate in 2003: 4.39 pounds per square foot.
For more infromation on LEED, please visit http://leed.usgbc.org/
1U.S. Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration (Nov. 2010). Short-Term Energy Outlook. http://184.108.40.206/forecasts/steo/outlook.cfm
2U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Sept. 2011). ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes – Assured Performance in Every Qualified Home. Accessed Dec. 19, 2011 via http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/ES%20Homes%20...
3Yahoo! (Dec. 2011). Yahoo! Real Estate Home Horizons Study – American Dream Homes Turn Green. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011 via http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/yahoo-study-american-dream-homes-turn-...
4Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market, McGraw Hill-Construction, 2014.
5Earth Advantage Institute (June 8, 2011). Certified Homes Outperform Non-Certified Homes for Fourth Year. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011 via http://www.earthadvantage.org/resources/library/research/certified-homes...
6U.S. Department of Energy (Oct. 2008). Energy Efficiency Trends in Residential and Commercial Buildings. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/corporate/bt_st...
8McGraw-Hill Construction (2012). World Green Buildings Study. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012 via http://analyticsstore.construction.com/index.php/2012-world-greeen-build...
9 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Star and Other Climate Protection Partnerships – 2010 Annual Report
10U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. www.eia.gov
11U.S. Geological Survey (2005). Estimated Use of Water in the United States. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011 via http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/wudo.html
12U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2003). Estimating 2003 Building-Related Construction and Demolition Materials Amounts. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011 via http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/imr/cdm/pubs/cd-meas.pdf