What Does LEED Certified Mean Exactly?

Dated: 10/08/2012

Views: 629

[caption id="attachment_796" align="aligncenter" width="600"]A LEED certified home to be built in exclusive neighborhood The Reserve at Temple Hills

A LEED certified home to be built in exclusive Nashville neighborhood The Reserve at Temple Hills[/caption]
There's lots of talk these days in real estate circles about homes being "LEED certified." Luxury homeowners especially have come to expect that a home be LEED certified. (Nashville's Castle Homes, for example, specializes in building LEED certified homes in the $500,000 to $2 million range.) Still, very few of us really know what that means, beyond some vague idea of a home's green-friendliness.
Some questions I hear often from clients:
Can you tell a home is LEED certified by looking at it? (Answer: Not really.)
Can you make an existing home LEED certified or is it only for new homes? (Answer: Old and new homes can be certified.)
What does a LEED certified home really do to help the earth? (Answer: Compared to a conventional home, a green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; is smartly located and built with as little impact on the land it sits on as possible; and is healthier for the people living inside.)
Can it help your bottom line in the longterm? (Answer: LEED certified homes save homeowners an average of 30 percent annually on energy costs.)
Let me break it down for you ... or, rather, I'll let the U.S. Green Building Council, which developed the LEED ratings system in 2000, break it down for you:
"LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home, or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality."
Basically, LEED certified homes are the green homes that meet the highest standards. And the certification can apply not only to a home but to an entire neighborhood; in fact, in 2009 Nashville's The Gulch was recognized as the first LEED ND Certified green neighborhood in the southeastern United States and only the fourth Silver Certified neighborhood in the world.
LEED certification is no longer just for Nashville's luxury homes. Our local Habitat for Humanity, which will have completed more than 40 homes by year's end, is ensuring that all of these homes are LEED certified so that they meet the highest standards for energy efficiency and sustainability. And the apartments built by the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) in downtown’s newest neighborhood, Rolling Mill Hill, were also LEED certified. Further still, in East Nashville’s Rosebank neighborhood, a new development called Nouvell will feature 15 LEED-certified single-family homes to be priced between $224,900 and $269,900.
So everywhere you turn, Nashville is going green. And though ensuring that a home is "green" can add several thousand dollars to the cost of a home, most buyers are confident that it's worth the cost, not only because it reduces energy costs and increases home value but because it adds to a family's well being.
Have more questions about LEED certified homes or want help locating one for sale in Nashville? Contact me. 
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TJ Anderson

TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....

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