Back in April, I finally wrapped up the process of getting Patty’s house LEED-certified. Today, the LEED certificate arrived in the mail. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a national third-party certification system for energy efficient, healthy, green homes. Aside from a large LEED-certified development at nearby Keesler Air Force Base, this is the first LEED-certified house in Mississippi.
This is a nice accomplishment for the GCCDS and for all of the people who worked hard to make it happen: Jason Pressgrove, Brad Guy, Jami Primmer, Bryan Bell, Sergio Palleroni, David Perkes, and many students and volunteers. We’re also grateful to Robert, Laura, and LaTaunynia at Southface Energy Institute and to Rick Eades at HERSCO for their help.
The LEED process was a learning experience for everyone involved. LEED for Homes was a pilot program at the time, and still had a few kinks, and our project team was loosely organized at best. Some of the lessons:
- Begin detailed planning and preparation early and continue throughout design and construction. Although we began planning early, we left many decisions until too late in the process. For instance, we did not consider that such a tight house would need fresh-air ventilation until after the bulk of construction was completed.
- Be realistic. Decide as early as possible which credits you will pursue and which are out of reach. Set a certification goal–certified, silver, gold, or platinum–and develop a detailed strategy to reach that goal.
- Clearly allocate responsibility. Our project needed a “LEED officer”–someone to take responsibility for coordinating the green measures and ensure that preparation, installation, and documentation went smoothly. The ever-changing nature of the project team did not help.
- Seek out people with the expertise you need. We could not have completed with project without the help of people like Rick Eades, an experienced home energy rater with a good understanding of ENERGY STAR, thermal performance, energy modeling, and other issues.
- Document, document, document. Read closely through the LEED manual to find out what documentation you will need to provide. Take pictures constantly during construction, save documents like emails and materials lists, and assemble all the required materials as quickly as possible.
LEED certification has its benefits: recognition, an organized process for green building, and assistance from green building experts. While its cost and complexity make it impractical for most of our houses, we can apply the methods and principles we learned during to our other houses.
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Some LEED resources: