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How Green is my Philadelphia Home?

April 13, 2010

Is your Philadelphia home green? Do you want to buy a home that is green? LEED* is the standard for measuring green in a home.

If you are purchasing a new home, you can look for one that is LEED certified. On the other hand, new isn’t always the answer to having a green home. An older home with some energy-saving improvements can be the greener choice.  So, what does LEED measure?

 There are eight LEED performance areas.

1.The indoor environmental quality: A LEED home lets the greatest amount of fresh air indoors and minimizes indoor exposure to toxins and pollutants. Getting fresh air in can be achieved with windows that open, and with the right heating and air conditioning system. Avoiding exposure to toxins involves making choices about building materials such as floor coverings and paints, as well as selecting the least cleaning and pest control products.

2.Energy Efficiency: A LEEDS home keeps the heat used to warm the home inside, and uses Energy Star appliances which minimize the use of electricity, gas or oil, to . A LEED home has the potential to use 20-30% less, and sometimes up the 60% energy compared to a home built to the standard code.

If you have an old home, it may take some effort to figure out and correct areas of the house were heat is leaking out, and some cost to replace old furnaces and appliances with new ones that are Energy Star rated. Greening an older home should begin with an energy audit. The audit will show where heat is escaping from the home.

3.Water Efficiency: A LEED home uses innovative ways to avoid wasting water ranging from the type of fixtures and water heaters used to the type of landscaping.

4.Site Selection: Homes that are close to schools, work, shopping and public transit get higher LEED ratings.

5.Site Development: In the construction of a new LEED home builders avoid practices that may cause erosion, interfere with natural habitats, and result in pollution through water run off. Older homes can improve their LEED score through landscaping.

6.Materials Selections: Materials and resources that go into a new LEED home come from sources that are sustainable harvested and responsibly processed, and they use recycled and reclaimed materials where possible. Updating an old house preserves resources. 

 7.Residents’ Awareness: LEED is proactive about educating home owners and tenants about the green features of a home. A LEED certified home also stands as an example to the community.

8.Innovation: LEED encourages builders and home owners to find innovative ways to increase a homes performance.

The Green Home Guide offers information about building a certified LEED green home or making green improvements to your present home. The National Trust for Historic Preservation offers Green Tips, Window Know-How and a Weatherization Guide for older and historic homes.

*LEED is a program of the U.S. Green Building Council

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