I've been doing some reading about home LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. (Link is here — scroll down to "LEED for homes pilot version 1.11a and download the .pdf if you've got the stamina for 184 pages.)
Quick recap: LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a qualification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council as a way to encourage energy-efficient, responsible development. Requirements for the certification run through everything from site selection for your project (is it near transit? is it near a grocery store?) to energy star heating systems to climate-appropriate landscaping to grey water recycling, and so on. For our dear Utah readers, the majority of LEED projects — if not all — in the state have been commercial, governmental or multi-family dwellings. Single-family LEED homes in Utah seem to be rare, if not entirely nonexistent.
From what I can tell, the USGBC has made no provisions for individual home owners/builders to obtain their own LEED certification. Their requirements seem to point to a system of builders in a few states and regions who have jumped through USGBC hoops in order to qualify as LEED builders. I saw no opportunity in their documents for people like us (lowly potential owner-builders) to take ourselves through the LEED process. This is how they put it: "Currently, the pilot LEED for Homes initiative is open to participation by builders in locations served by our 12 pilot LEED for Homes Providers. Home builders outside of these 12 service areas may contact their nearest LEED for Homes Provider to discuss participation in LEED for Homes. In the short-term, not every home builder will have local access to a Provider. However, in the coming year, USGBC plans to establish 10-20 new Providers in new markets."
That's a crying shame.
Innovation generally comes from a few individuals who decide to do something different. If the USGBC is truly concerned about spreading LEED certification (and it seems the council is – one of the components for becoming LEED certified is education about the process) then it needs to open up the process drastically. Why would the council allow only certain builders in certain areas to apply for LEED certification? Additionally, why would this system discriminate against owners-builders (cough, cough: us, *we hope*) who aren't going to look to an established builder for help with a home. We hope to use a family member as our general contractor, not Ivory Homes (shudder) or like ilk.
I like just about everything else I read about LEED home certification. But really, USGBC, really?!? I'm disappointed in you, and this is my disappointed face:
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