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You’re listing a stunning new luxury property that didn’t spare any expense in its design. Its air quality, climate control, water purification, and power generation systems are world-class. Its gardens and green spaces are exquisite. Its energy-efficient appliances are state-of-the-art. And its innovative architecture and sustainable materials make it magazine-worthy in every respect.
These are the forward-thinking features often found in LEED-certified homes. So it’s no surprise that for today’s eco-conscious buyers, residences like these represent a prize like no other. However, for now, such homes are a rarity. Here’s a closer look at why that’s the case, and why it could be changing.
A brief summary of LEED
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is considered the world’s most easily recognized and widely used green building rating system. It was founded in 1993 to form the basis for a sustainability framework. By 1998, LEED was a pilot program, and by 2001 the rating system started to be applied in earnest.
Awareness of climate change and other environmental crises has grown over the past two decades — and with it, an understanding of the need for green buildings and ratings. LEED emerged as the frontrunner due to its holistic focus on personal and planetary health and its robust backing by numerous architecture-affiliated industries, including commercial and residential real estate.
For homeowners, LEED is all about quality of life
Now, it’s not just the industry that recognizes the value of LEED buildings. People are increasingly cognizant of how their living spaces affect their physical and mental health and their impact on the planet. As such, ratings such as LEED have become important search criteria for many homebuyers.
Of course, there’s an economic incentive to having a LEED-certified home. Energy-efficient lighting, heating, and appliances reduce bills, as do water collection, containment, and recycling systems. Homes that generate electric power may even be able to sell excess energy back to the grid. As a result, a LEED-certified home is a wise short- and long-term investment.
Along with reducing contribution to global climate change, protecting and restoring water resources, preserving and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services, and promoting sustainable and regenerative material cycles, one of the main goals of LEED is to increase the quality of life for people and communities. Health- and eco-conscious buyers are aware of this and modify their home searches accordingly.
LEED certification helps luxury homes stand apart
For all the benefits of having a LEED certification, getting one isn’t easy. A flat certification fee is required for the process to begin and from there, testing, verification, and accreditation commence with Green Business Certification Inc. There are nine separate certification programs for different types of developments — including commercial, retail, construction, and existing buildings.
To receive a LEED certification for a new or pre-existing property, all of its green features will be evaluated, earning points based on how it addresses carbon emissions, energy, water, waste, materials, transportation, health, and indoor environmental quality. The point total determines whether or not the property gets a LEED certification and whether the rating will be “Certified,” “Silver,” “Gold,” or “Platinum.”
The rigor of this process and the “pay-to-play” nature of the inspection and certification help to explain why LEED-certified private properties feel few and far between. But that may not be the case forever.
Leading the way to the future of luxury real estate
Based on my observation of buyer preferences and market trends, I believe that as the number of LEED or other green-accredited luxury homes increases, it will go mainstream and become a default expectation for buyers in their decision-making process. If this occurs, sellers and builders will begin to get a clear message and respond accordingly — or else see their demand dwindle.
People are spending more time in their homes, more money on their health and wellness, and investing in companies and causes that are socially and environmentally responsible. Following all of these trends to their natural conclusions, it only makes sense that seeking a safe, healthy, eco-friendly home will be a priority for homebuyers.
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Ricky Allen is committed to providing the necessary energy and enthusiasm in order to exceed the expectations of a REALTOR®. Ricky has an extensive business and negotiation background and a real passion for real estate. He bought his first property in his early 20s and bought and sold within his own real estate portfolio for over 30 years. Ricky has a wide range of real estate experience, from owning and managing international investment properties to possessing residential development experience. He has experience in Section 1031 tax-deferred exchanges and a keen eye for residential design components.