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Eco-Friendly Living Hits Record Highs in the U.S.

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Eco-Friendly Living Hits Record Highs in the U.S.
2 min. read
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Image: ponsulak / Shutterstock.com

Homeowners across the United States are putting more thought and effort into how their lifestyle is affecting the environment. Starting with their homes, many are adopting a sustainable living model by reducing waste, limiting negative environmental repercussions and increasing energy efficiency. Owners are also applying for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications that display their environmentally conscious efforts in record numbers.

What Is a LEED-Certified Home?

LEED is a rating system that confirms whether a building was designed and constructed in such a way that it maximizes occupant health and productivity, uses fewer resources, and reduces waste and negative environmental consequences. A new report on residential LEED certifications shows that certified homes have reached a historic high, with a 19% increase since 2017. To date, 493,700 residential units (both multi-family and single-family projects) have achieved certification globally, with over 400,000 in the U.S. alone.

A LEED-certified home uses, on average, 20 to 30% less energy, which translates to significantly lower utility bills each month. These energy-efficient homes are also considered a healthier option, as they are built to maximize indoor fresh air and lower the number of airborne pollutants in a home. They can also qualify for discounted insurance, tax breaks and other incentives. With so much added value, it’s no surprise that U.S. real estate is booming with homeowners who are vying to get their homes certified.

Leading States with LEED-Certified Residential Units

The U.S. tops all other countries for LEED-certified residential units. The bulk of these homes are in California and Texas, the top two states with the most certified residential units, boasting 39,296 and 24,598 units, respectively. They are followed by New York and Washington, the only other states to surpass 10,000 units (10,876 and 10,521, respectively). The top five is rounded out by Colorado, with 8,091 certified units.

StateLEED-certified Residential UnitsGross Square Footage
California39,29646,252,746
Texas24,59841,425,633
New York10,87612,700,343
Washington10,52111,856,316
Colorado8,0919,870,268
New Jersey7,6468,790,645
Ohio7,4028,790,645
Oregon6,7297,961,683
Maryland5,9669,019,059
Georgia5,8917,299,589

Getting Certified

To get their project certified, a builder must first register the project by choosing one of three predefined residential options: Single Family, Multi-family or Multi-family Core and Shell (a multi-family project that does not include a complete fit out). The builder must also select which priorities they will focus on – such as energy efficiency, human health or carbon reduction, among others. The builder will receive tools and resources to assist them in the process, and they must thoroughly document their progress in achieving the rating-system requirements.

Once the documentation is submitted, it undergoes third-party and on-site verification. If successful, the project receives a LEED-certification; depending on the number of points scored, the building can receive a Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum rating.

Contrary to popular belief, green homes can be built for the same cost as conventional homes but will save owners more money in the long run through lower energy consumption. They can also be resold faster and at higher prices or rents than homes without such certifications. With so many benefits, certifications on energy-efficiency standards may become a staple in building construction everywhere.

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