What is the LEED Program for Home Building?
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is creating a whole new generation of homes across America. Discover how LEED is inspiring homebuilders – and benefiting homeowners – across Santa Fe, New Mexico.
What is LEED?
The LEED program is a third-party verification system for green homes. When a building is LEED-certified, it means the building has met a strict set of environmentally-friendly standards.
Meanwhile, environmentally-conscious homeowners can shop among houses based on their LEED rating levels.
The goal is to encourage our world to grow in a more sustainable way. There are four levels of LEED certification, including Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
When a building is LEED-certified, it means it uses resources more efficiently than other similarly-sized buildings. It uses less water and energy, for example, and produces less greenhouse gas. LEED-certified buildings also save money.
One of the best things about LEED is that it can be applied to all different types of projects – including everything from downtown hotels to homes in residential neighborhoods.
Palo Santo Creates LEED-Certified Homes in Santa Fe
Palo Santo Designs is a design-build firm based here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We’re proud to be among a few homebuilders devoted to sustainable residential development in our region.
We are proud to say that many of our Santa Fe home projects have passed the rigorous scrutiny of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program.
That means our homes are not only aesthetically beautiful, but they also have minimum impact on the environment. They use less energy and water, for example, while still being stylistically stunning.
How Do We Build LEED Homes in Santa Fe?
Palo Santo Designs has recently finished a home in Santa Fe’s Museum Hill neighborhood. The 2,100 square foot, three bedroom, two bath Pueblo Revival-style home is outfitted with contemporary accents, extensive outdoor space, and beautiful views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
It’s also pending LEED certification at the Platinum level, which is the highest level of certification available. Here are a few of the this environmentally-friendly home’s key sustainability achievements.
Solar Panels and Home Orientation
The home is nestled onto a single-acre lot. While creating the home, our designers had to carefully consider the orientation in order to maximize views as well as solar gain.
The roof of the home features a photovoltaic system capable of generating 4.5 kilowatts of electricity, which covers virtually all of the electrical needs for the home. Other electric features in the home include an electric vehicle charging station, a high efficiency air-to-water heat pump for in-floor heating and cooling, and efficient LED lighting throughout the home.
Water Conservation and Indoor Reuse of Rainwater
Water conservation also played a crucial role in gaining LEED certification. The home’s roof is specially designed not just for solar panels, but also to maximize rainfall capture. This rainwater is used for outdoor landscape irrigation as well as to flush indoor toilets. Re-using collected rainwater indoors is a cutting edge innovation in Santa Fe.
Meanwhile, gray water beds reclaim wastewater from showers, laundry, and bathroom sinks to ensure the landscaping always looks stunning without using excessive water.
Insulation, Adobe Walls, and Air Ventilation
One final piece of the puzzle is insulation. To create an environmentally-efficient home, Palo Santo Designs had to create a very well-insulated home outfitted with R-30 walls and R-50 ceilings.
Adobe walls within the home provide thermal mass, which then captures and retains heat energy from passive solar-oriented clerestory windows.
Of course, homes with good insulation can often suffer ventilation problems. That’s why we incorporated an energy recovery ventilation system that facilitates the proper exchange of fresh air into the home via an air-to-air heat exchanger.
Fresh air is brought into the home, passed through a filter to remove contaminants like dust and pollen, and then refreshes the home. This is especially valuable during allergy season or during the winter and wildfire months when the home is closed off to the outdoor air.
LEED Platinum-Certified Homes Now Available in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ultimately, the home mentioned above will achieve LEED Platinum-certification, which is the highest level of certification available through the program. This is one of many successful LEED certified projects by Palo Santo Designs.