Moves Beyond Commercial Buildings
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched its Leadership
In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-for-Homes program at the
organization's annual Greenbuild conference in Chicago last week.
A nearly two-year pilot program to adapt the LEED rating system
to residential building ended this spring, but USGBC says it waited
until Greenbuild for its official debut so the program could be
balloted with the organization's full membership.
It will incorporate results from the LEED for Homes pilot program
that began in 2005, and will be expanding into more areas of the
country. During the pilot phase alone, more than 8,000 homes across
the U.S. have been part of the program, with more than 300 gaining
Housing represents a significant new market sector for USGBC-and,
despite the current construction slow down, one in which it believes
that urgent action is needed. The group estimates that residential
buildings contribute 21 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions.
McGraw-Hill SmartMarket reports that only 2 percent of American
houses are built green; there were more than 1.8 million new single-family
construction starts in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
LEED-for-Homes provides a framework for homeowners and developers
who want to improve that ratio, according to USGBC.
Approximately 336 houses have earned LEED certification since USGBC
began piloting the residential ratings program in August 2005, and
8,000 more are in the pipeline.
"Obviously the growth is wonderful," says Emily Mitchell, the LEED-for-Homes
assistant program manager. "The numbers have exceeded our expectations.
Twelve houses so far have achieved LEED Platinum, the highest ranking.
Created exclusively for new commercial construction when it was
launched in 2000, there are now seven programs beyond the original
new construction category: commercial interiors, core-and-shell,
schools, and existing buildings. LEED for neighborhood development
and retail are in their pilot phases, and USGBC expects to roll
out its next pilot program, LEED-Healthcare, in 2008.
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