How Will New LEED Standards Protect Homeowners?

Most homes are filled with toxic vapors thanks to chemical-based building materials. Now a green building leader wants to clear the air.

You know that reducing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can make your home healthier and kinder to the environment. Now LEED, a sustainable building standard, is taking a stance against yucky environmental pollutants by encouraging manufacturers to green up building materials.

If you’re not in the know, LEED is all about building practices that keep human and environmental health in mind. It was established in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit dedicated to cost-efficient and energy-saving green building and construction.

Here’s one of the reasons why LEED should be on every homeowner’s radar: LEED-certified homes are leading the charge when it comes to home value. They use 20% to 60% less energy than traditionally built homes, and can cost the same as a conventional home to build.

But’s here’s what makes us sit up and take notice: LEED just introduced LEED v4, an update of its rating system. Included in this update is a push for builders to be transparent about the building materials they use.

Mid-rise multifamily (four to six stories) buildings can earn LEED credits for avoiding materials and products that include toxic chemicals. The goal here is to make builders more aware of products that emit VOCs while encouraging manufacturers to produce healthier materials. This makes sense since LEED certifies buildings, not manufacturers and products.

And while they haven’t rolled it out for single-family homes yet, it’s good news for homeowners. You know how Energy Star has raised the bar for energy efficient appliances? LEED is doing the same when it comes to healthier indoor environments.

Manufacturers will be under pressure to create building materials that are safer and less abusive of our natural resources. That means products at your big-box home improvement store will start changing to be healthier and greener. Maybe one day you’ll even be able to see the ‘ingredients’ of your remodeling materials, just like you do for food items. And that’s a good thing, right?

By: Deirdre Sullivan