Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), developed by the U.S Green Building Council in 1998, is a certification system for rating buildings that are constructed with environmentally friendly products and practices. This rating program encourages and rates different aspects of sustainable construction.
Though the system can be applied to old buildings as well, LEED certification is only given to the newly constructed buildings. However, the recommendations can be implemented on the existing buildings. The adherence to LEED regulations makes the construction healthier to the occupants and the environment.
It works on a point system, where different elements of sustainable construction are assigned certain points based on which the buildings are certified silver, gold, or platinum level.
In this article, we discuss some of the essential requirements of houses to comply with LEED regulations, such as the selection of location, materials, design, etc.
Selection of Location for LEED House Construction
The LEED location specifications are challenging to meet, as some communities or locations comply with the regulations. Some of the important points in selecting the location are:
- Always buy the home or site in a LEED-ND (LEED Neighborhood Development Project). These sites are categorized as environmentally friendly and sustainable.
- Do not construct the home or structure on a wetland or farmland.
- Always try to build the structure within the existing communities.
- The building must be constructed within half a mile of the current water or sewer lines.
- Plan and build the home to get easy access to supermarkets, public transportation, and other amenities.
- Try to select a site that exists half a mile away from a community-based open space.
Sustainable Sites for LEED Certification
Some of the requirements mentioned above might be difficult or impossible for some homeowners due to a higher population density and less land area. But there are many ways to increase the sustainable quality of an area. Some of the recommendations are:
- Changes to the existing land must be undertaken in smaller portions to avoid disruption to the land.
- Shade the patios, driveways, and the sidewalks by planting trees and bushes. This helps to prevent hot spots and control the overall temperature in metropolitan areas. The need for more water and energy to decrease the temperature can also be avoided tremendously.
- Prevent erosion and runoff by installing open pavers, rainwater cisterns, and retaining walls.
- Try to conserve the land by reducing the density of the housing units.
LEED Through Water Efficiency
There are many ways to reduce water consumption in a building that can be affordable and easy to implement. One such system adopted by communities is the use of treated greywater instead of municipal freshwater supplies. Some of the other methods include:
- Perform landscape irrigation by using rainwater and greywater.
- Rainwater can be collected using a rain barrel.
- Install high-efficiency irrigation systems that possess moisture-sensor controls. This new technology helps to reduce evaporation and overwatering.
- Fix leaky faucets and pipes to save gallons of water per day.
LEED Through Greening Up Techniques
This category involves the techniques to save energy and money.
- Seal the envelopes within the home to reduce the heat and cooling loss.
- Employ energy star-labeled windows and solar window screens. This technique blocks summer heat and harmful UV rays.
- Install the ducts properly to prevent future leakage.
- Install heating ventilation and HVAC systems that either meet or exceed the energy star requirements.
- Use solar water heaters for hot water, which can save around 13% of the energy.
- Use energy-efficient fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs, motion sensors for outdoor lighting.
- Use electronic items like washing machines, refrigerators, fans, dishwashers that are energy and water-efficient. It consumes 10 to 50% less energy compared to regular home appliances.
- Install renewable electric-generation system by using wind or solar power.
- Employ non-CFC refrigerants (CFCs or Chlorofluorocarbons that contribute to ozone depletion is reduced).
LEED Through Recycled Materials and Resources
The use of recycled materials and resources for the construction of a house requires detailed study and research. It is because the requirements of each home are unique. Some general recommendations provided by LEED regulations are enlisted below:
- Floors and walls can be constructed by salvaged, reused, or wood-alternative materials. Use products that have lower levels of volatile organic compound emissions.
- Try modular framing and materials, instead of lumber.
- Try to employ products manufactured near the site, thus reducing the pollution and cost due to transportation.
- Reduce the job-site waste, either by reusing the wood, metal, or cardboard.
LEED Through Indoor Environmental Quality
Indoor pollution is caused mainly due to high temperature, humidity levels, and improper ventilation. It can cause respiratory and heart diseases to the occupants. Some methods to improve the indoor air quality include:
- Employ a ventilation system that can control moisture, heating, and cooling.
- Use ventilators for fireplaces and stoves, which help to remove toxic gases from the interiors. The use of a carbon monoxide detector is recommended.
- Installation of humidity-control system.
- Ventilate the indoor air using an outdoor air system, either by opening the window or by filtering the air entering the space.
- Employ exhaust fans for bathrooms and kitchens.
- Air-duct system must be designed such that the airflow is evenly distributed among the rooms.
- Installation of air filters.
- Employ a radon detector for the foundation.
- Garage must be sealed from the home to avoid penetration of carbon monoxide gas from vehicles.
LEED Through Design Process
This step involves educating the residents or owners who wish to engage in a long-term investment to get LEED certification.
- Employ a team to implement performance testing. The team includes architects, land planners, and energy engineers. For example, the team can correctly work on the position of solar panels for maximum utilization, without making it look unattractive.
- The foundation, roof, air sealing, mechanical systems must be constructed using high quality and durable materials.
- Getting creative and going beyond LEED standards help to gain bonus points for the building. Check with the LEED body whether the idea qualifies.
- The builder must provide a LEED for home rating certification. He prepares a complete checklist and guidance for appliances, equipment, and a full walkthrough before completion.
The article gives a general insight into the requirements of a LEED-certified House. For more detailed procedures and ideas, visit the LEED official website.
Frequently Asked Questions
The 4 levels of LEED certifications are certified, silver, gold and platinum.
The main features to focus on are:
1. Selection of sustainable location or site
2. Use of green techniques to conserve energy.
3. Reuse of waste materials for construction
4. Reuse of waste water and conserve water energy.
5. Use of energy efficient appliances and utilities
6. Maintain Indoor air quality
7. Proper check of LEED checklist of the building.
This category involves the techniques to save energy and money.
1. Seal the envelopes within the home to reduce the heat and cooling loss.
2. Employ energy star-labeled windows and solar window screens. This technique block summer heat and harmful UV rays.
3. Install the ducts properly to prevent future leakage. Insulate the ducts correctly.
4. Install heating ventilation and HVAC systems that either meet or exceed the Energy Star requirements.
5. Use solar water heaters for hot water. It can save around 13 percent of the energy.
6. Use energy-efficient fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs, motion sensors of outdoor lighting.
7. Use electronic items like washing machines, refrigerators, fans, dishwashers that are energy and water-efficient. It helps to use 10 to 50 % less energy compared to regular home appliances.
8. Install of renewable electric -generation system by using wind or solar power.
9. Employ non-CFC refrigerants [ CFCs or Chlorofluorocarbons that contribute to ozone depletion is reduced)