Introduction to LEED for Homes

LEED for Homes is a national, voluntary green building rating system that promotes the design and construction of high performance "green" homes.

LEED for Homes Rating System provides a tool for recognizing homes that are designed and built to be energy- and resource-efficient, durable, less costly to maintain, and healthy for their occupants.

The LEED for Homes pilot program began in September 2005 and the actual LEED for Homes Rating System was launched at Greenbuild, Chicago in 2007.

The original LEED for Homes was designed for newly constructed single family and low-rise multi-family homes. Efforts are under way to develop standards to include mid-rise and affordable homes. In 2008, the Regreen guidelines were released in a joint effort between USGBC and ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), to provide best practice guidelines for sustainable residential renovation and remodeling.

The categories for LEED for Homes are similar to LEED-NC (New Construction), though they are prioritized differently and include two extra categories ("Location & Linkages" and "Awareness & Education").  A summary of the eight categories in which LEED for Homes measures the overall performance of a home are as follows:

1. Innovation & Design Process (ID) - Special design methods, unique regional credits, measures not currently addressed in the Rating System, and exemplary performance levels.

2. Location & Linkages (LL) - The placement of homes in socially and environmentally responsible ways in relation to the larger community.

3. Sustainable Sites (SS) - The use of the entire property so as to minimize the project's impact on the site.

4. Water Efficiency (WE) - Water-efficient practice, both indoor and outdoor.

5. Energy & Atmosphere (EA) - Energy efficiency, particularly in the building envelope and heating and cooling design.

6. Materials & Resources (MR) - Efficient utilization of materials, selection of environmentally preferable materials, and minimization of waste during construction.

7. Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) - Improvement of indoor air quality by reducing the creation of and exposure to pollutants.

8. Awareness & Education (AE) - The education of homeowner, tenant, and/or building manager about the operation and maintenance of the green features of a LEED home.

A home can achieve one of four certification levels in the LEED for Homes system - Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The point levels required for each certification level are as follows:

Certified:     45-59 Points
Silver:         60-74 Points
Gold:          75-89 Points
Platinum:    90-136

Total available points: 136

Achieving a points tally is not all that is needed to successfully achieve a LEED for Homes certification. Additionally, there are certain aspects of the rating system that are mandatory prerequisites. The table below shows these requirements for each category as well as the total amount of points available for each of the eight categories.

LEED for Homes
Table source: USGBC

LEED for homes has prerequisites under "Integrated Project Planning" for a design charrette and development of an integrated project team. These approaches insure that all contractors and trades work together to achieve the desired project goals.

The LEED for Homes system follows five basic steps:
  1. Contact a LEED for Homes Provider and join the program.
  2. Identify a project team.
  3. Build the home to the stated goals.
  4. Certify the project as a LEED home by objective Third Party Inspections by an approved Green Rater.
  5. Market and sell the LEED home.

The project team may include:
  • A team leader or consultant knowledgeable in LEED for Homes.
  • Builder.
  • Architect / designer.
  • HVAC contractor / consultant.

There are local or regional green building programs that are sponsored by utilities and state agencies such as the Touchstone Energy Program in Indiana promoted by utilities such as Hoosier Energy through its REMC cooperatives.

The following is a list of some of the well-known programs that are available here in Indiana:

Most green building or energy-efficiency programs are performance based and either reference or compliment  Energy Star performance standards. Energy Star is third party verified by RESNET, trained and certified HERS (Home Energy Rating System) energy auditors, who provide a host of services including energy modeling, energy audits, and certifications for meetings performance standards.

LEED for Homes requires that homes meet Energy Star standards.

Some utilities offer substantial incentives for meeting performance standards. These incentives may include free or subsidized energy audits, discounts on high-efficiency furnaces / AC, heat pumps, geothermal systems, and water heaters.

Home that meet certain performance standards will qualify the builder / developer for a tax credit per home up to $2000. Many municipalities throughout the country are developing a host of incentives for building green.

To see a full list of incentives, tax credits, rebates and grants, go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) at . This site includes federal and state incentives for residential and commercial energy-efficient and renewable energy projects.

Click here for a direct link to the DSIRE web page featuring State and Federal Incentives available in Indiana.

A key element that sets LEED apart from other green building programs such as NAHB is that LEED must be certified for energy-efficiency as specified by both the Energy Star program and a USGBC-approved Green Rater who verifies compliance with the LEED project goals and performance requirements in order for a project to qualify for claimed LEED points.

Among the various green building programs for homes, LEED for Homes is gaining recognition as a preferred standard in the national and international marketplace.

Currently, there are 31 LEED for Homes providers in the United States and five in Canada (one located in most of the leading housing markets). The LEED for Homes Provider for the Mid West Region, which includes Indiana, is:

Alliance for Environmental Sustainability (AES)
Emily Aleman
949 Wealthy St. SE, Suite 201
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
T: 616-458-6733

Below is a chart which shows the costs associate with the LEED For Homes program.

LEED for Homes Pricing

LEED for Homes
Table source: USGBC

Note: The LEED for Homes Rating System requires completion of on-site inspections
prior to certification. Additional Provider and Green Rater verification costs apply
and are based on market prices. Please consult the Provider of your choice for
applicable rates and fees.  All fees are subject to change. Registration and
Certification fees are nonrefundable. 

LEED For homes is gaining momentum nationally. There are approximately 893 Homes certified in the LEED For Homes programs that have achieved the following ratings:

140 platinum
168 Gold
369 Silver

Four projects are listed for Indiana.

Here are some examples of LEED for Homes projects:

The First LEED Home to be Certified in the U.S.

The first LEED home to be certified in the U.S. is located in Austin, Texas, a city noted for green building programs.

It has achieved the highest possible green building certification ratings from the top two premier green building programs in the entire U.S.: On the National level, the Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED® for Homes program; and on a Local or Municipal level, the Five Star certification from the Austin Green Building Program.

For more information, please visit

Margarido House: The First LEED Platinum Home in Northern California

Margarido House
Photo source:

Please visit the Margarido House's official website at

LEED for Homes Training in Indianapolis

USGBC Indiana is planning to host a full-day LEED for Homes workshop in Indianapolis this spring. To assist in planning this event, we want to gauge current interest levels to insure that we have the minimum required attendance to make a program feasible.

If you have interest in attending a LEED for Homes workshop in Indianapolis, please send an email to Albert Schinazi, the LEED for Homes Advocate for the Indiana Chapter of USGBC at

In the email, please provide your contact information, name of your organization, and the number of persons from your organization interested in attending. If you have a preference for specific days of the week, please include such information. Once USGBC-IN has a pool of interested participants, the chapter will survey that group to set a date.

The proposed fee for the workshop is $225, which includes a workshop manual, refreshments and lunch.

As with many of the Indiana Chapter events, there is an opportunity for your organization to sponsor this event. If you have interest in learning more about the costs and benefits of partial or full sponsorship of this event, please submit your request for information to

- Albert Schinazi

LEED for Homes Resources

USGBC's LEED for Homes hompage:

Frequently Asked Questions for Home Builders

Albert Schinazi serves as the LEED For Homes Advocate, for the Indiana Chapter of USGBC and has over 33 years of green design & building experience. Albert provides Sustainable Consulting to homeowners, builders, material vendors, developers, municipalities and organizations interested in developing and implementing sustainable strategies. Services include energy & sustainability audits and development of sustainability programs and cradle to cradle approaches to innovation and business development. Albert can be reached at (317) 259-0759 or

Last updated: 2/23/2009 10:46:20 AM