Nation’s capital sets premier standard for LEED certification

Energy-efficient homes that achieve the highest industry ranking for green initiatives may not be as common as their commercial counterparts, but the standards are just as obtainable if homeowners are willing to channel their resources toward energy enhancement. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard is regarded by building owners and the general public as the pinnacle of green energy assessment. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) tracks and inspects LEED-certified properties, which must meet certain standards involving water use, air quality, energy efficiency and building materials. Last week, the USGBC announced that Washington, D.C. had achieved the best per capita rate of LEED-certified square footage in buildings. The nation’s capital checked in with 31 square feet of LEED-certified space per person last year, while Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, Washington and Maryland followed next in line. “Looking past the bricks and mortar, people are at the heart of what buildings are all about,” USGBC president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi said in a press release. “Examining the per capita value of LEED square footage in these states allows us to focus on what matters most – the human element of green buildings.” Washington, D.C.’s impressive ranking – the next closest states all had rates of about 2 per capita square feet of LEED-certified space – is likely attributable to the Better Buildings Initiative, which this blog reported about last month. The program, launched in February 2011, requires all government buildings to improve their energy efficiency by 20 percent before 2020. At a press conference last month, President Barack Obama expressed optimism that other cities would enact similar programs. Homeowners can follow Washington, D.C.’s example and strive toward achieving home energy efficiency for themselves. The first step could be to contact a local D.C. home inspector who can conduct energy audit and suggest strategies for slashing utility bills.