LEED for Homes Q and A

Here is a useful Q & A on LEED for homes.

Presented by O’Brien & Company.

How does the “no additional lumber” address cases of historic/cultural design, in
particular on an infill project in a historic neighborhood or a gut rehab of a historic

This credit has been revised to a 10% cap on the waste factor in the lumber order, so the
“additional lumber” language is no longer moot.
How does LEED for Homes apply to historic homes?
The LEED for Homes rating system can be used for gut rehabs of homes, including
historic homes. LEED for Homes is evaluating innovation applications for deconstruction
of existing (e.g., historical) homes on a case-by-case basis and may consider
establishing some performance threshold for deconstruction in a future version of LEED
for Homes. In addition, wood salvaged from historic homes may be reused in new
How is material salvaged from deconstruction treated (is it salvaged? Resource

Salvaged or reused material is eligible for recognition under MR5, Environmentally
Preferable Products; in cases where it is not listed as an alternative for a given building
component, the builder should submit a credit interpretation request for consideration by
the MR-TASC. If the quantity of materials being reused in substantial enough (i.e.,
comparable in magnitude to the other measures in MR 5), the request for an ID credit will
be granted.
Is a list of builders participating in the pilots available? If not now, when?
USGBC has asked the pilot builders if they are open to having their contact information
made public; a response is expected in coming weeks. USGBC plans to post this
information on the LEED for Homes website at www.usgbc.org/leed/homes.
What are the registration fees?
There is a $150 fee for project registration, with $50 per unit for certification.
Those are fees due to USGBC from builder. Other applicable fees (e.g., for certification
services) are at the discretion of the Provider. Fees for the third-party certification will
vary with the level of experience of the green home builder, the home size, the desired
certification level (i.e., Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum), and the distance that the third
party has to travel to conduct site visits at the LEED Home. Earth Advantage (EA),
Portland is the Provider in the Northwest. O’Brien & Company has been contracted by EA
to represent perform ratings on its behalf in Washington.
Can verification be done by the same person doing technical
assistance/consulting? (Who’s doing quality control of verifiers?)

The official certifier of LEED Homes is an authorized LEED for Homes Provider. All
LEED raters or verifiers must be contracted to a LEED for Homes Provider. It is up to the
discretion of the Provider to determine who is qualified to deliver on-site verification
services. Providers are responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising qualified
LEED raters in their local markets. LEED Home raters must meet qualifying criteria. In
particular, since LEED for Homes requires ENERGY STAR for Homes qualification, the
rater must be qualified by ENERGY STAR NW through its performance testing and
verification training.
Also, all individuals offering verification services related to LEED for Homes are required
to submit a declaration stating possible conflicts of interest. This declaration needs to be
provided to the builder and any other parties who might be affected by potential conflicts
of interest.
As pilot raters in Washington, O’Brien & Company is providing some guidance to design
teams to help them leverage integration opportunities and optimize their design. O’Brien
and Company works under the supervision of the LEED for Home Provider Earth
Why won’t LEED Home Builders be able to hang their hats on a LEED AP? We
should be able to use that Brand.

The current LEED AP designation does not indicate any familiarity with LEED for Homes;
rather, it represents knowledge of other LEED rating systems, which relate to commercial
buildings. USGBC is considering whether to develop a comparable exam and
credential for professionals who are conversant with LEED for Homes. Currently,
qualified LEED for Homes support is available to builders via their local Providers. LEED
APs that are qualified in green home building are encouraged to develop business
relationships with the LEED for Homes Provider in the markets that they serve.
Will there be a LEED for remodels?
The challenge with a LEED program for remodeling is that remodeling by its nature is a
“one-off” business, with few economies of scale and in most cases, no buyer (in most
cases, the client already owns the home). Thus, the remodeling market poses challenges
with respect to the creation of a viable (i.e., sustainable) business model for USGBC.
Further, the LEED Rating Systems are generally used to assess the whole of a building.
In remodeling, only parts of the home are affected. Thus, it is difficult to asses the greenness
of a building when only part of it has been upgraded. For the time being, we
suggest that remodelers use LEED for Homes to provide guidance with respect to the
goals and principles — and in some cases, e.g., plumbing fixtures, performance
specifications — that can be referred to in the remodeling process. USGBC may tackle
the remodeling market sometime in the future. Note that LEED for Homes can be used
for gut rehabs.
Will there be a LEED for existing homes (recertification process) given frequent

This represents a challenge similar to remodeling; and besides the fact that there are no
economies of scale, it remains to be seen whether there is any significant demand
potential. Since the seller is the homeowner and not a builder, s/he stands to gain no
professional reputation benefit by offering the LEED brand. In the future LEED may
achieve sufficient consumer brand recognition that prospective buyers will look for a
LEED label on a used home as well as a new one — and be willing to pay for it — but it’s
likely to be quite a few years before that happens.

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