This article was updated in October 2017.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) homes are green homes, and they are transforming the residential market and people’s lives around the world. LEED homes are built to be healthier and safer by providing cleaner indoor air. They use less energy and water, leading to monthly savings on utilities, and maintain their value over time. More than 370,105 residential units have earned LEED certification as of October 2017, and both certified single-family homes and multi-family projects are selling faster and for more money than comparable, conventional homes.
“Since 2005, the green share of new single family residential construction has grown dramatically—increasing from 2 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013. This 23 percent market share equates to a $36 billion market opportunity,” according to a study on green labels in the California housing market.
Green homes create value
- Nationwide, the typical household spends about $2,150 on residential energy bills each year, but LEED-certified 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 ductwork 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 growing
- It is estimated that by 2018, the green, single-family housing market will represent about 40 percent of the market, and 84 percent of all residential construction will have sustainable features.
- More than 370,105 residential units have earned LEED certification as of July 2017 around the world, and this number continues to rise in countries like the United States., Canada, Saudi Arabia and China. Within the United States, states with the most LEED-certified homes include California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Georgia.
- The 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, released by USGBC and prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton, found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent.
Green homes are healthier and safer
- The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air is two to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. LEED-certified homes are designed to maximize the quality of indoor air and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants. They require proper ventilation, high-efficiency air filters and measures to reduce mold and mildew.
- Each LEED-certified home undergoes onsite inspections, detailed documentation review and performance testing to ensure the health and safety of home dwellers.