Green building practices are no longer seen as an alternative—they have increasingly become more mainstream in recent years. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1998, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system. LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. Its environmental and economic impact can surely affect how homeowners’ associations (HOAs) across the country are developed and maintained.
LEED for Residential and Community Buildings
LEED applies to both commercial and residential properties. While certification is mainly determined within the building lifecycle, starting with the design and construction of a new project, it can also apply to the significant retrofit of existing buildings. LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community has been developed in alignment with its environmentally conscious metrics. With a system to score green building design and construction, its five categories include:
- Sustainable sites
- Water efficiency
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Indoor environmental quality
Properties are awarded points based on the extent various sustainable strategies get achieved. The more points awarded, the higher the level of certification. Levels include certified, silver, gold, and platinum.
LEED for Neighborhood Development
LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) extends the benefits of LEED beyond a building’s footprint into the neighborhood it serves. It recognizes development projects aimed at enhancing the overall health and quality of life of its residents while protecting the natural environment around it. The rating system encourages environment-forward best practices by:
- Promoting the location and design of neighborhoods that reduce traveling time in cars
- Creating developments where jobs and services can get accessed by foot or public transit
- Promoting an array of green building practices, particularly for more efficient energy and water use
- Protecting and conserving habitat, wetlands, water bodies, and prime agricultural lands through the maintenance of natural areas and location choices
What LEED Means for Your Community
LEED certification can mean increased property values, significant savings on monthly utilities, and a smaller carbon footprint for homeowners.
According to a study by the University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), building single-family homes to LEED standards in the Austin, Texas area increased their resale value by an average of $25,000 compared to non-LEED homes. Further, area homes built to LEED standards between 2008 and 2016 saw an 8% increase in value, showing that buyers are acutely aware of the economic and environmental benefits of LEED certification.
While LEED-certified homes may come at a higher price than non-LEED dwellings, significant cost savings are found in maintaining your home. Between 2015-2018, LEED-certified buildings generated a savings of more than $1 billion in energy and over $100 million in water.
As HOA development moves into the future, there’s an evolution of what buyers expect from their homes and communities. And green standards—like responsible use of renewable resources, a focus on indoor and outdoor air quality, and sustainable living practices—are driving the industry forward.
How Your HOA Can Go Green
At Associa, we’re committed to helping communities become more sustainable and decrease their environmental impact in several different ways. Our program, Associa Green, helps promote practical solutions that have a positive effect on the people and places we serve. For a quick and easy resource to get your community on the right path to sustainability, check out our tips for going green.