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Apr 052011

Green Right Now Reports

The LEED platinum Salishan housing development in Tacoma.

Green-built homes are at risk of becoming less of a novelty. Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that more than 10,000 homes in the U.S. have earned a LEED-for-Homes certification.

These homes, built to the green standards developed by the USGBC, range from multi-family to single family houses and appear in all price ranges, according to the USGBC.

“Reaching this milestone signifies the continued transformation of the home building industry towards high-performing, healthy homes that save home owners money,” said Nate Kredich, vice president of Residential Market Development, U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED for Homes is a voluntary certification system that promotes energy-efficient design and construction of houses that use less electricity, gas, water and fewer or more sustainable natural resources.

LEED builders also get points for creating less waste during construction and building near mass transit.

The 10,000th home to earn LEED certification was Tacoma Housing Authority’s 91-unit development, Salishan 7 in Washington state. S

Salishan 7, built by Walsh Construction Company, is the first federally funded “HOPE VI” Redevelopment project to earn the top LEED rating of Platinum. The public housing project was designed to be at least 30% more energy efficient than the average home, effectively removing 27 homes from Tacoma Power’s electrical grid, according to USGBC.

Affordable housing, built to green standards, saves residents money on electric and gas bills. “Our LEED Platinum housing projects are less expensive to operate and are healthier inside, which means a world of difference to our residents,” said Michael Mirra, Executive Director, Tacoma Housing Authority.

While the LEED program encourages energy efficiency, residential building can be even more conserving. Across the country builders are constructing “net zero” homes that use very little energy and generate enough to offset what they do consume, though typically the upfront costs of such construction is higher because solar panels and special HVAC systems or even geothermal heating are included.

A 2008 government report on net-zero building predicted that by 2050 the U.S. could have all its commercial buildings operating at net zero energy.

Buildings account for about 40 percent of the nation’s energy use (transportation accounts for 28 percent and industry for 32 percent).