Tuesday, November 18, 2008

LEED for Homes- Cribnotes Version

After 8 straight hours in a LEED for Homes program review, I left with these major impressions:
  1. This is not easy
  2. "Providers" and third-party raters hold all the cards
  3. Contractors will have to be FAR more involved in the design process
  4. They will most likely need FAR more support from their HVAC distributor
  5. LEED for Homes will win the residential green building battle (T. Gee's opinion only)

In short, there is NO WAY business as usual will result in any LEED for Homes projects.

LEED for Homes is Energy Star for Homes + environmental, durability & sustainability added on top. It is comprised of 8 components: Innovation & Design Process, Location & Linkages, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Awareness & Education. The scoring system is adjusted for total square footage and number of bedrooms per home and covers single family, custom, townhomes, and multi-unit under three stories (low-rise residential buildings rating is in pilot stage right now). Total remodel/rehabs of existing homes is rated like new construction.

A "provider" is required to oversee and coordinate the LEED registration and certification process. "Providers" may or may not be the verification provider, but must be more than a HERS rater. The "provider" can organize and coordinate all of the various verifiers needed to achieve one of four certification levels: certified, silver, gold, and platinum.

To its credit, LEED for Homes requires Integrated Project Planning comprised of several planning meetings, most of which are supposed to include all project contractors. However, there was no discussion about compensating contractors for the extensive planning time required. This is why I believe HVAC distributors will have to provide greater support to contractor customers involved in LEED for Homes projects. The documentation and spec and design work required is staggering and I believe too little has been done to protect contractors from last minute design changes or incomplete information.

This is already too much for one blog entry so I leave you with this link to more information about LEED for Homes and a reminder that HARDI is a USGBC members. This means you can have HARDI order USGBC products for you at member-discounted rates.

I've got lots more to say about LEED for Homes but will save it for another post.

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