LEED® is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
The rating system not only improves the energy efficiency component of a building, but also considers water usage, site selection, indoor air quality and the impacts of the construction of the project on the surrounding environment. LEED® applies a high level of craftsmanship to an integrated process that produces measurable results.
LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for homes is a national voluntary certification system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes that use less energy and water, fewer natural resources, create less waste, and are healthier and more comfortable for the occupant.
LEED® recognizes performance in eight areas that are critical to human health and well being:
- Innovation & Design
- Location & Linkages
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy & Atmosphere
- Materials and Resources
- Indoor Environmental Air Quality
- Awareness & Education
Certification is based on the total point score achieved, following an independent review. The green measures are verified on-site by a third-party verification team using a protocol developed by the CaGBC. The highest score possible is 136, and depending on how many points are earned, there are four possible levels of certification: Certified – 45 to 59 points, Silver – 60 to 75 points, Gold – 75 to 89 points, and Platinum – 90 to 136 points.
The rating system guarantees minimum levels of sustainable practice through 19 prerequisites in the eight credit categories. The number of points in each certification level is adjusted for smaller-than-average and larger-than-average homes using a mechanism called the Home Size Adjustment.
The LEED® Canada for Homes certification system is designed for new single-family homes as well as low- and mid-rise multifamily buildings. Existing homes or buildings undergoing extensive renovations are also eligible to participate in the program.
The following is an overview of the eight categories that measure the overall performance of a home:
Innovation & Design
This category is designed to maximize opportunities for integrated, cost-effective adoption of green design and construction strategies. Points are awarded for having a project team with members that have LEED® Accredited Professional certification, green building and sustainable design experience, habitat restoration experience, performance testing experience, etc. The project team is encouraged to have regular meetings and the expertise of all participants should be drawn from during all aspects of the building design and material selection.
Location & Linkages
The category’s intent is to avoid development on environmentally sensitive sites. LEED® homes are encouraged to be built near or within existing communities that are served by or are close to existing infrastructure (like sewers and water supply), and allow for walking, biking and public transit to minimize the dependency on personal automobiles. Points are also earned for building close to community resources such as libraries, schools, parks, community centres, etc.
The main purpose of this category is to reduce the environmental impact to the building lot during the construction process. Builders are encouraged to design landscape features that avoid invasive species, minimize the demand for water and synthetic chemicals (like pesticides) and reduce erosion and runoff from the home site.
The intent of this category is to minimize the use of fresh water through the capture and controlled reuse of rainwater and/or grey water, through water-efficient irrigation outdoors, and through water-efficient fixtures and fittings indoors.
Energy & Atmosphere
This category is to improve the overall energy performance of a home by meeting or exceeding the performance of EnerGuide 76 or HERS 80. This can be achieved by installing efficient windows and insulation that will minimize air leakage, heat transfer and thermal bridging. This category is also about promoting efficient lighting, appliances, hot water and heating and cooling systems, and also the layout of the fixtures within the home.
Materials & Resources
This category is to encourage the use of products that are extracted, processed and manufactured locally. Points are awarded for using environmentally preferable products, such as materials that have recycled content, FSC-certified wood (environmentally controlled forests), etc. The goal is also to optimize the use of framing materials and minimize waste. This can be achieved by creating a detailed framing plan and using advanced framing techniques and off-site fabrication.
Indoor Environmental Quality
The intent of this category is to minimize the leakage of combustion gases into the occupied space of the home and control indoor moisture levels to reduce the risk of mould and increase the durability of the home. Ventilation/exhaustion is also promoted to reduce the occupant’s exposure to indoor air pollutants. A preoccupancy air flush is recommended to eliminate gassing and contaminants from construction materials that may still be lingering in the air.
Awareness & Education
The goal of this is to maintain the optimal performance of a home by educating the home owners about the operation and maintenance of the home’s LEED® features and equipment. It is also important to promote general public awareness about LEED® homes (by posting signs, publishing newspaper articles on the project, hosting an open house for the public, etc.)