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To LEED or not to LEED

by Chad Ludeman on January 2, 2008 · 7 comments

in Green Programs,LEED

As we get closer and closer to finalizing our plans and trying to nail down construction costs, we will need to make a decision on whether or not to go after LEED for Homes certification for both homes. LEED is a very controversial topic right now and I don’t plan to debate the issue from a sustainability issue in this post. If a debate is sparked in the comments, that is fine…

LEED Certified Logo

The bottom line for this project is that getting LEED certification could possibly add to the construction cost and keep us from hitting out $100K target budget. The issue as I see it is not materials costs as the current design should meet LEED criteria without adding any expensive green components, systems or finishes. The issue is more of time, energy and excess labor costs that could be incurred by using new construction methods that subcontractors in Philly may not be familiar with. When subs are unfamiliar with something they can have a tendency to hike up their quotes even if it may not cost them any more in the end.

I am meeting with Level 5 Construction today to discuss this and other budget issues. In preperation I went ahead and filled out a preliminary estimate as to where we would most likely end up, points wise, in the LEED for Homes checklist. Check it out here.

Energy Star LogoDue to the size of our home, we will get to deduct at least 3 points right off the bat from the requirements. I filled out the checklist, trying to be very conservative with my estimates and ended up with 61.5 points which would put us 4.5 points into the Silver level and about 10 points from Gold. Basically, due to our urban location that is close to public transportation and densely populated, we only need to build an Energy Star Certified home and we should qualify for LEED Silver with minimal extra effort.

The cost of certification is another factor that postgreen will have to pay for outside of the $100K construction budget. This will cost roughly $6K-$8K for the total project depending on how similar the design of each house is and whether the inspections for both homes can be scheduled at the same time… This isn’t bad but will not be an insignificant portion of the final profit figure for the project so it needs to be taken into consideration. Having a LEED cert will help with publicity but everyone on the project agrees that these homes will be unique enough to easily sell without LEED.


If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

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100K House to Seek LEED for Homes Silver Rating |
January 17, 2008 at 8:08 pm

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 brandon January 2, 2008 at 11:06 pm

I tried checking out your spreadsheet but when I log into my google account it says that “I don’t have permission to access this spreadsheet”. I’m not sure, but I would assume that there is some sort of an option to make that document public. Just a heads up as I’m sure others will be experiencing the same problem.

2 chad January 2, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for the heads up. Problem fixed.

3 brandon January 3, 2008 at 12:10 am

Wow, that’s a heck of a spreadsheet. Your project is about building an affordable modern and green home. If the Gold LEED level cannot be attained within the budget then I would think that the Silver level would suffice just fine.

I agree with your assessment that the houses will be unique enough to sell without any kind of certification. Being Energy Star Certified is more than the majority of houses in the Philly area can claim and I would imagine would make most buyers happy enough.

4 Garrett Russell January 4, 2008 at 8:18 pm

what is the cost of a LEED Cert?

5 chad January 4, 2008 at 10:15 pm

G-man. It’ll run about $5K total to certify both homes most likely since the design and size will be almost identical. This cost is less of a concern than something unforeseen that may be required for LEED adding $5-$10K to the construction costs and causing us to miss the $100K target. The LEED certification cost will be kept separate as a development soft cost.

6 chad January 16, 2008 at 7:41 pm

This previous $5K estimate was a little low.

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