Monday, November 13, 2006

LEED Home (Residential): Party like it's 1975?

The USGBC will soon release LEED guidelines for homes. Right now the focus of certification is on commercial buildings. I'm a LEED AP and I support what the USGBC is doing but I have a thought on the new LEED Home (residential) guidelines.

I think the USGBC should give you 2 different tracks towards LEED certification for the home;
A. the elaborate series of points they will come up with, or B, You can achieve LEED Platinum simply by designing your home to conform to the average size of a home from 1975. Drop any energy saving requirement. Forget water efficient landscaping. Just build less even if it’s a mess in so many ways.

The average home of 1975 was 33% SMALLER than the average home of 2005. In 1975 59% of the homes had 1.5 bathrooms or more compared with 96% in 2005. It makes me think, could the Master Bath be what is killing the planet, not the heat island on the roof?

I'm thinking of the Graphic below culled from the SF Gate article entitled, “Americans like supersized homes- Families and plots are smaller, but people want more bedrooms, bathrooms and garage space”, which in turn was partly culled from Washington Post and a graphic by Marianne Seregi.

Graphic from Washington Post by Marianne Seregi

I am guessing that the home now is so bloated compared to what we built in 1975 that for everything the USGBC will accomplish with their new residential LEED certification standards, they’d accomplish more just throwing in the towel and saying,

“Look, just build it like you would have in ’75. As leaky and inefficient as it was, that house is going to burn up less resources than your LEED platinum home of 2007. There will be one less toilet, 30% more forest from the 2x’s you WON’T be using, and scads of less air to heat or cool. Just send us a picture and we’ll send you the plaque”.

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