LEED for Homes is a USGBC rating system aimed at single and multifamily residential housing development with the goal of creating energy efficient, healthy, sustainable homes. The rating system has struggled to capture a significant portion of the market, in both the U.S. and Europe. The problem in Europe is exasperated by the inconsistent building standards from country to country, and also by the limited number of Green Raters in the region, along with the total absence of local Providers. My business partner Marc Holt & I became interested in the Homes rating system after attending a Green Rater training last year. The training was held at the Barcelona, Spain at the offices of Green Living Projects http://www.greenlivingprojects.com/en and was conducted by Active Energies, a U.S. LEED for Homes Provider. http://www.activeenergies.com/
After completing the training and passing the Green Rater exam, we were optimistic about the opportunities to grow the rating system, specifically in Germany, but also throughout Europe. As we examined our local home market however, we found ourselves asking several questions. Would the LEED standard add any value to the already high home building standard? Would the average home owner/builder pay a premium for LEED certification? How difficult would it be to apply the U.S. centric “Homes” program to the German market?
Long before the Green Rater training, Marc had started to develop plans for the construction of a new home for himself and his family. This offered the perfect opportunity for us to conduct a case study of the synergies and conflicts between local German building codes and LEED. The project broke ground in March of this year. The 2 story, 183 sqm, (1970 sqft), 3 bedroom, home is being built in Enkenbach-Alsenborn, (Kreis Kaiserslautern). It will be constructed using air entrained masonry block construction (Ytong low energy block) with a wood and clay tile roof. The project is being built on a 400 square meter site, giving it a density of 24.75 dwelling units (DU) per hectare (10 DU/acre) The preliminary HERS model has returned an index rating of 21%, which is 79% more energy efficient than the “standard” American home. The home will feature an 6.5 kW solar array and hydronic radiant floor heating throughout. The landscaping will be drought tolerant & native, and can be irrigated using rain water captured by an onsite catchment system. The project is targeting LEED Gold, but has the potential to achieve platinum.
Over the coming months we will chronicle the problems encountered and solutions found, as well as propose possible strategies to make the standard a better fit for Europe.