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Of all the home energy scores and certifications, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most similar to Pearl Certification. Both are multi-attribute certifications that go beyond energy efficiency. That said, LEED and Pearl differ in several important ways, too — and, in fact, they can complement each very nicely.

What Is Home Certification?

Certification recognizes that a home or product meets specific criteria for performance. It demonstrates that an independent third party has formally compared the home or product to standards developed by experts in the field.

Some certifications focus exclusively on a single performance attribute across the whole home. For example, ENERGY STAR home certification focuses on energy efficiency; WaterSense, as you might guess, is focused on water efficiency.

Other certifications, like Pearl and LEED, define criteria a home must meet across multiple high-performance attributes, including energy and water efficiency.

Related Post: What Is Home Certification and What Can it Do for My Home?

The LEED Certification Program Mission

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) publicly launched the LEED green building rating system in 2000. A “green building” refers to one that is designed, constructed, operated, and maintained with the well-being of people and the environment in mind.

USGBC describes LEED-certified green buildings, which can be commercial or residential, as “healthy, efficient, carbon- and cost-saving.” They’re better for the people who live and work inside thanks to safe building materials, clean indoor air, and more natural light. They are better for the environment compared to typical buildings because they’re designed to conserve natural resources, use less energy, and reduce carbon emissions. Specifically, LEED-certified homes use 20–30% less energy on average than their non-green counterparts.

How Does LEED Certification for Homes Work?

Your builder or architect will spearhead your home’s LEED certification process. At the beginning, you’ll work closely with them to cast your vision for what life in your new or significantly renovated home should look and feel like. (LEED residential certification only applies to new construction, whereas Pearl Certification applies to both new construction and existing homes.)

Then, your builder or architect will assemble a full project team, which may include contractors and must include a LEED Green Rater. The Green Rater (along with a qualified energy rater, if needed) will visit your home at multiple key construction milestones to perform on-site inspections and tests. The LEED Green Rater will complete comprehensive documentation and calculations. Once completed, these will go to the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). This organization will determine your home’s certification level and provide the final report.

Earning LEED Credits

To be in the running for certification, a home must meet certain requirements across nine categories that include water, energy, indoor environmental quality, and materials. For example, in the energy category, a home must meet certain minimum energy performance criteria.

In addition, the home must earn points (up to 110) by going above and beyond the basic requirements. Within the Energy and Atmosphere category, for example, a home can earn up to 36 points for annual energy use — the lower the expected usage, the more points it earns.

Like Pearl, LEED awards different tiers of certification (Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) based on your home’s total score.

Pearl’s Strengths Complement LEED Certification

LEED-certified commercial buildings are typically more visible than LEED-certified homes. You may already be familiar with a certified office, school, store, hospital, or hotel … but not any LEED-certified residences.

LEED-certified homes have been demonstrated to command higher sale prices. But the real win for your family’s bottom line comes when your home’s superior features are understood — and their value is visible.

This is how Pearl becomes a powerful complement to LEED certification, explains Pearl Residential Program Specialist Corey Bressler. “Pearl Certification criteria cover many similar things as LEED, but we’re always thinking about how to make the value of those features visible and understood. LEED gives you a detailed analysis of the home. Pearl’s strength is drilling into all those details to explain the value proposition in a way that’s easily presentable,” Bressler says. “Plus, we populate the Green Addendum for every Pearl Certified home so there’s no guesswork for real estate professionals or appraisers when it’s time to refinance or sell.”

Related Post: Valuing High-Performing Homes: The Impact of Pearl Certification on Home Sales Prices

What’s Next for Your Home?

You can have a green, high-performing home without a certification. You’ll be able to feel the difference! But third-party certifications like LEED and Pearl provide confidence … and in Pearl’s case, ongoing guidance. 

Whether your home is LEED certified or not, Pearl can help you understand how to continue improving its efficiency, comfort, indoor air quality — and value. Learn more about Pearl Certification and sign up for our award-winning Green Door app to get started.

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Pearl Certification is transforming the housing market. We’re making a visible difference nationwide for homeowners and the businesses that serve them.