Sunday, July 19, 2015

Timeline - Alternative Certifications to LEED

Past Two Years

The quest for some sort of sustainability recognition for our project started with the assumption that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design) certification
would be attainable and affordable.  As discussed in the first post on certification, the LEED fee of up to $2,000 turns out not fit our budget and certifiers seem to be uniformly disinterested in residential construction.  This post shares some of the information gathered while searching for an alternative to LEED. Most of it comes either from Johnston and Gibson's book, "Toward a Zero Energy Home - a Complete Guide to Energy Self-Sufficiency at Home”, or from Stan Clark (Advance Green Consulting, LLC), a local energy consultant that I trolled onto while looking for a LEED certifier.

A big positive for LEED is that it rates sustainability from conception to completion. The other green ratings/certifications, except, to some extent, NAHB, focus on energy conservation of a built house.  In addition to the requirements listed below for other certifications, LEED is unique in requiring the following:
  • Site selection:  In-fill and urban instead of suburban, exurban and rural
  • Proximity to infrastructure:  Schools, shopping, medical care, entertainment
  • Site stewardship during construction:  Erosion control, minimal site disturbance
  • Green building practices:  Off-site fabrication, FSC-certified lumber, materials with low embodied energy and salvageable end-life, recycled materials, advanced framing, minimal construction waste
HERS Index (Home Energy Rating System)
  • HERS is the most economical alternative to LEED -- $700 - 800 -- but still has high kudos in the green building industry
  • Rating is based upon a hypothetical code-compliant "conventional home" (a production home as opposed to a highly detailed custom home); the conventional home is given a HERS SCORE of 100 against which a subject home is compared; a score of 20 or below is excellent and rare
  • Certification includes a plan evaluation and computer modeling
  • Periodic inspections by a certifier are done during construction to monitor and test energy efficiency procedures, both before and after the insulation is installed
  • Inspections include blower door testing and HVAC duct pressure testing
  • The process culminates in a report and certificate
Energy Star Version 3
  • $850 - 1000
  • More stringent guidelines but higher recognition
  • Plan evaluation and computer modeling
  • Inspections for insulation and air infiltration control
  • Blower door testing, HVAC duct pressure testing
  • Report and certificate; certificate sent to a federal registry
The interesting aspect of the Energy Star approach is that a project is rated against a hypothetical "Benchmark Home".  According to Stan, our project may not be Energy Star certifiable because it is too non-standard.

NAHB Green Build Standards (National Association of Home Builders)
  • $1400-1500 which includes the price of submission to NAHB national registry
  • Many guidelines regarding sustainable practices during construction (similar to LEED requirements)
  • More compliance inspections than for HERS and Energy Star
Stan Clark, who's certified in HERS, Energy Star and NAHB, says he will be able to obtain certification for our project but it will require some creativity on his part.  Isn't it ironic that a project can be potentially so out-of-the-box energy efficient and sustainable as to defy certification?

No comments:

Post a Comment

As a do-it-selfer-in-training, I welcome your comments.