What's LEED?

Launched in 2000, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world's most widely used green building rating system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the rating system was designed to guide green buildings for all sectors and stages of development.
LEED certification provides independent verification of a building or neighborhood's green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings. LEED is the triple bottom line in action, benefiting people, planet and profit.

Originally created as a green building rating system for commercial projects, USGBC launched the LEED program for homes in 2008 via USGBC’s open, consensus-based development process. The residential LEED rating system addresses the specific needs of residential projects built to be efficient and sustainable. Every LEED-certified home is a healthy, resource efficient and cost effective place to live.

Getting to know LEED: Homes Design and Construction:

A home is more than just shelter: homes are the most important buildings in our lives. We think that every building should be a green building – but especially homes. Why? LEED homes are built to be healthy, providing clean indoor air and incorporating safe building materials to ensure a comfortable home. Using less energy and water means lower utility bills each month. And in many markets, certified green homes are now selling quicker and for more money than comparable non-green homes. Some of the most important buildings in the world use LEED. Shouldn’t the most important building in everyone’s world use LEED, too?

Who it's for

LEED for Homes is available for building design and construction projects for single family homes and multifamily projects up to eight stories.

  • Homes and Multifamily Lowrise: Designed for single family homes and multifamily buildings between one and three stories.
  • Multifamily Midrise: Designed for midrise multifamily buildings four stories and higher.

How does LEED make my home better?

Four critical ways

  1. Health: LEED-certified homes are designed to maximize fresh air indoors and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants.

  2. Savings: They’re designed to save costly resources—energy and water. On average, LEED-certified homes use 20 to 30% less energy than a home built to code, with some homes reporting up to 60% savings. Using fewer resources means lower utility bills each month.

  3. Trusted: They’re third-party inspected, performance-tested, and certified to perform better than a conventional home. Additionally, to ensure that your home is built to an exacting green standard, each LEED-certified home is inspected and tested by the third party non-profit organization: GBCI. Onsite inspections, detailed documentation review and performance are required in every LEED-certified home—so you can trust that your home is truly green.

  4. Value: With proper planning, green homes can be built for the same cost as conventional homes, and they’re resold for more money in less time than traditional homes. LEED homes can qualify for discounted insurance, tax breaks and other incentives.

How it works

Certification: Residential LEED projects have a verification-based certification process to ensure optimum performance and achievement. To learn more about the certification process, visit the LEED Guide to Certification.

Why should I build a LEED home?

LEED has become recognized in the commercial building sector as the national benchmark of performance for green buildings and has rapidly gained recognition among the public at large. LEED is designed to serve the residential construction industry. Homebuilders using LEED will be able to differentiate their homes as representing the highest quality of green homes on the market. Furthermore, LEED certification will make it easy for homebuyers to readily identify high-quality green homes.

Green homes create value:

  • Nationwide, the typical household spends about $2,150 on residential energy bills each year, but LEED-certified green homes are designed to use about 30 to 60 percent less energy. Over the seven or eight years the typical family lives in a home, this adds up to thousands of dollars in savings. Levels of indoor air pollutants can often be four to five times higher than outdoor levels, and with people spending an average of 90 percent of their time indoors, the average American suffers from significant exposure to unhealthy indoor environments. LEED residential units provide significant value to consumers through dramatically improving upon these environmental health factors.

  • Green homes are built to be energy-efficient, ensuring that they can be comfortably heated and cooled with minimal energy usage. They are individually tested to minimize envelope and duct-work leakage and designed to minimize indoor and outdoor water usage.

  • Green homes are increasingly desirable. More than half of consumers rank green and energy-efficiency as top requirements for their next homes, and LEED certification is a top individual attribute of apartment rentals, second only to location near a central business district.

  • Green homes can be built for the same cost as—and sometimes less than—conventional homes. Average upfront costs of 2.4 percent are quickly recouped, as a homeowner will save money for the duration of his or her green home’s lifespan.

  • Green homes sell at higher prices and faster than comparable, conventional homes. According to a 2016 report, “What Is Green Worth? Unveiling High-Performance Home Premiums in Washington, D.C.," by real estate appraiser and author Sandra K. Adomatis and the Institute for Market Transformation, high-performing single family and multi-family homes with green features in Washington, D.C. will sell for 3.5 percent more than those without green features.

Green homes are healthier and safer: