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One of the most commonly used terms when discussing green communities and green houses is LEED, which is the acronym for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental.
 
LEED is basically a nationally accepted set of standards (developed by the U.S. Green Building Council) for green construction. To become LEED certified, certain criteria must be met, and there are different criteria for different LEED versions. Examples of LEED versions include LEED for Schools, LEED for Homes and the most common which is LEED for New Construction. The criteria that must be met for LEED for Homes falls into one of eight categories including innovation and design, location and linkages, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and awareness and education.
 
Examples from the eight categories on the LEED for Homes checklist include: durability management, access to open space, drought tolerant plants, gray-water reuse system, efficient hot water distribution, environmentally preferred products, indoor contaminant control and basic operations training. Those are just a few of the many items on the list. To view the entire checklist, refer to the LEED for Homes checklist on the U.S. Green Building Council website. 
 
To see how the items on the checklist are used to create an environmentally sustainable house or building take a virtual tour of a green development named Trolley Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
 
When a home is LEED certified, it has met the minimum requirements based on a point system derived from the checklist. After the inspection, all the points are added up and the home or building is awarded a level of green performance. For example, below are the different performance levels for LEED for Homes. 
 
Certified               45-59 points 
Silver                    60-74 points 
Gold                      75-89  points 
Platinum              90-136 points
 
Of course expectations for a house can’t be exactly the same as expectations for a `or commercial buildings, so a rating system was created for each LEED version. Visit the U.S. Green Building Council website for information on the various LEED ratings systems. 
 
Interested in building a LEED certified home? Below are the basic steps to achieving certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Join the program. In this step developers register for the program and select a LEED for Homes provider who will help with the basics. 

Identify the team that will plan, design and build the home. In this step, a preliminary rating can be given by a provider. 

Build the home. Tests and inspections are necessary to make sure the home is being built according to the plans. 

Certify! A representative from the Green Building Council will perform a final inspection and submit the paperwork which includes the checklist. The information will then be reviewed and hopefully approved. 
 
It’s important to remember that the Green Building Council is the only organization qualified to issue LEED certification. There are other programs such as ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes, NC HealthyBuilt Homes, and Environments for Living that certify green buildings, but LEED is by far the most commonly accepted program for green certification.
 
With all this talk of green communities, it’s important to avoid getting caught up in green-washing. The term green-washing refers to a house (or other product) being advertised or marketed as green, when in fact it is not environmentally sustainable. So keep in mind…
 
Being energy efficient and using Energy Star appliances doesn’t go hand in hand with being green, but it may be a part of a green program. 

True green houses are built so there isn’t extra square footage. 

Non-toxic and sustainable materials are used to build green homes. 

Using terms such as solar, eco-friendly and healthful environment doesn’t necessarily mean a house or building is green. 

Green suburban subdivisions are sprouting up all over the country. The problem is that many of these developments leave out green planning elements such as such as open spaces designated to conservation.
 
Plans in our Traditional Neighborhood Design collection emphasize people-friendly features and development of community. Traditional styles include homes with front porches and detached or alley-access garages
 
One of the most promising trends in neighborhood development is the concept of traditional neighborhood design. The concept emphasizes the development of communities with people-friendly features, rather than the old model of housing tracts designed to accommodate automobiles. These developments often contain narrow streets placed in a grid pattern, sidewalks, houses with porches, detached or alley-access garages, integrated community centers, and nearby shopping districts. Such pedestrian-friendly features are designed to encourage people to walk to their destination and, in doing so, connect with others in the neighborhood. These neighborhood designed with such neighbors in mind. The houses are traditional in style, and many contain front porches and garages located at the rear of the home.
 
 
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