LEED-Homes First Impressions... FREAKIN LOVE IT!

The firm I work at has been involved in an affordable housing project seeking LEED-Homes certification for a few months now, and until this morning I was largely uninvolved. Today though I was asked to run through the checklist and start to figure out who does what. Here's what I've learned so far:

  • The LEED-Homes certification process is infinitely more user friendly than the other LEED systems. Instead of a mysterious review team located somewhere in communist Berlin, you can actually pick up a phone to work through documentation issues with your provider!
  • LEED-Homes is remarkably straightforward. It's clear cut, prescriptive, and most anyone can understand the requirements without a PhD in LEEDology. I understand that homes have much more consistent issues than commercial projects that makes this possible, but that doesn't make it any less nice.
  • There seems to be a great balance of design justification and in the field performance verification. I may find that as we enter into the construction phase that I may learn to hate LEED-Homes for the same reason, but we have a quality team and I don't expect that to be the case. Having a HERS rater evaluate the building as constructed in theory sounds like a much simpler way of determining relative energy performance over ASHRAE modeling.
happy about LEED

Where would this blog be without marginally related photos?

ps... the bacon represents LEED-Homes, and I'm the cat.

Now, it's important to understand that our consultants and review team have already done a significant amount of work coordinating the design already, but from a pure documentation standpoint I can't get over how user-friendly this process is. Thanks for indulging my raves... I don't gush very often, but we need to figure out how to make the other LEED systems this simple to use while maintaining their rigor. I don't have an answer for that, but given the litany of issues I've faced recently surrounding project boundaries, I can say for sure a quick call to the review team would likely solve hours worth of headaches. Get on it guys!


SallyTV said...

I just got home from the gym and now all I want to do is eat bacon. Thanks, Joel.

theFreakinGuy said...


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Andrew said...

What is holding the system back from having a transparent review process for LEED-NC, CS, CI, etc, similar to LEED-Homes? GBCI is already outsourcing its reviews and a LEED-Homes arrangement seems like the next logical step. (though I'm not a fan of having one "provider" have a monopoly over a certain region) All they would need to do is establish a connection between the reviewer, an approved representative of GBCI, and the design team.
Its fitting that the LEED-Homes Provider network was setup due to the expectation of an overwhelming volume of submissions and it was the traditional LEED-NC system that crashed due to that same exact thing.

jlloyd said...

Like NC, you still have to be on top of your contractor to keep decent records. Especially when it comes to his framing package and systems being installed in the house.

What shocked me about the entire homes process is how little information you actually have to send to the provider. Just have each party sign the accountability forms and that is it. Your provider may call with a couple of questions, but that is it.

However one thing that is weird with Homes vs. NC is the innovation credits. I believe you have to submit those for approval before construction begins. Now I may be wrong at this point, but that is what you had to do with the Pilot program.

dave said...

Andrew- providers don't have a monopoly; while it's most convenient to go with the closest regional provider, there's nothing to prevent you from using an out of area provider.

pcprit said...

Maybe I need to look at the LEED for Homes program again. My 1st impression wasn't a good one. It seems to me by having to pay for both the program provider as well as the green rater, there is an added level of fees and paper work for the home owner or whoever owns the home. If this is not correct, please tell me. I spoke to someone local to me who is involved with the LEED for Homes program and that's exactly how they made it sound to me.

earthapril said...

Ugh! You obviously have not actually done a LEED Homes project. We have and will not do another one again until the system is fixed.

The documentation is unbearable! It makes actual certification hardly cost effective unless you are doing multiple units at a time. It requires home owners or professionals to give the same quality and quantity of documentation. For example, a landscape architect cannot specify plants as native or drought-resistant. Instead, I had to work with three different state agencies to get them to co-produce a list of native plants for the purposes of one LEED Homes credit.

While it is nice to be able to call your provider, often their hands are bound by USGBC requirements making that communication access worthless.

LEED Homes needs to be parallel to other rating systems and until it is it will not be cost effective to do this process one home at a time.

joelmckellar said...


Your comments make me wonder how much the provider matters in making the process simple/difficult? Ours (to this point) has been very reasonable in what they're asking for, though we still have a ways to go.

Has anyone worked with more than one provider that would be willing to talk about the differences between the two?