This guest post is by Lindsay Mineo of Palatin Remodeling, Inc.
What LEED is and what it means for you
Green is everywhere in home improvement and remodeling and without a regulatory system to define and regulate “green” promises a homeowner can find themselves the victim of misleading advertising. LEED is an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it is an internationally recognized standard developed by the US Green Building Council in 2000 (and will update its standards in2012). LEED certification is designed to be the body that dictates who can provide legitimately green home improvement and construction to homeowners and businesses, separating the pros from the general contracting pool and providing a way for consumers to avoid the practice of “greenwashing” with some contractors.
Why choose LEED?
The goal of a LEED certified project is to create a difference in energy and green materials that is measurable in dollars and figures, providing consumers with actual environmental and living solutions. A LEED certified building is independently certified by a third party to be environmentally sustainable, including water wise and energy efficient. A LEED project isn’t just green for the planet, it’s designed to be sustainable for the occupants who will save significantly in utility bills and experience all the conveniences of a high performance green building. Plus, LEED certified buildings have far better indoor air quality than other buildings, making living in and using the buildings safer for the occupants.
What makes a contractor LEED certified?
Hiring a LEED certified contractor means you’re getting an individual or company that has been independently certified in environmentally sustainable building practices by a third party. LEED certified contractors have passed a test created and designed by USGBC and several LEED committees that prepares them for the challenges associated with green building. They’ve studied the different factors of green building and green remodeling, reviewed case studies, and prepared themselves for designing cost effective and successful plans. Courses can be taken online, with print materials and study guides, or even in a classroom.
LEED certified contractors are not only encouraged to take continuing education courses after receiving certification, they’re required to submit educational activities to the US Green Building Institute in order to maintain their credential. This requirement helps LEED certified contractors to stay on top of the changing standards and to always have the latest case studies and techniques available to draw on so their clients will have a top notch contractor regardless of when he or she was certified.
Benefits of hiring a LEED certified contractor
Depending on the scope of the project and the end use of the building, a LEED certified building can end up costing less money than a traditionally built structure. Operationally, a LEED certified building, especially one at the Gold or Platinum levels, will cost far less to run than any other building, and the cost of building a LEED certified home can be comparable to regular construction.
Even if you’re planning a renovation to an existing home, which will most likely not be eligible for LEED certification, working with a LEED certified contractor can be the best resource for green renovation at the lowest cost. While all contractors should be trying to design the most cost effective plan, a LEED certified contractor will have a unique understanding of the benefits of many green products, materials and designs and can help create your vision at a great up front and overall cost.
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