LEED Platinum Awarded to Innovative New Green Homes

Matthew Higgins's picture
Matthew Higgins
Engineer
September 16, 2014

As of August 2014, approximately 2,700 homes had achieved Platinum Level certification, the highest recognition granted within the LEED for Homes rating system.

The Zero Cottage is certified LEED for Homes Platinum. It is the first Passive House-certified home in San Francisco and officially achieved Net Zero Energy Building Certification in June 2014.
The Zero Cottage is certified LEED for Homes Platinum. It is the first Passive House-certified home in San Francisco and officially achieved Net Zero Energy Building Certification in June 2014.
Credit: David Baker Architects

The case studies presented below highlight two unique homes that overcome their challenging settings to maintain a high level of energy-efficiency and achieve LEED Platinum certification.

The LEED for Homes rating system applies to one to three story single family homes and multi-family residential buildings between four and six stories tall. The rating system encourages efficient energy use by offering a maximum of 29 possible credits to homes in its Energy and Atmosphere credit category.

LEED prioritizes this category because often more than half of a building’s total energy consumption results from heating and cooling.

Zero Cottage

David Baker Architects, an architectural design firm based in San Francisco, California, completed a project named Zero Cottage in late 2013. The goal of the project was to design and build a freestanding urban structure that is entirely self-sustainable in terms of energy consumption.

To enable its zero net energy consumption, the cottage includes features to drastically reduce its energy needs along with a photovoltaic system to sustainably generate power.

Its first energy-saving feature is its airtight design. The architects accomplished this feat using an “air/vapor barrier” and a layer of extruded polystyrene in the walls, roof and floor, as well as triple-pane windows.

Second, the cottage employs a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) system that captures heat produced from common activities such as showering and cooking, filters and mixes it with incoming air and uses it to heat the cottage during cooler months.

LED lighting fixtures and a solar water heater, located on the cottage’s green roof, further reduce the cottage’s energy use. After one year of use, the architects’ design for the cutting-edge, urban cottage had actually exceeded its goal of net zero energy use: its three-kilowatt photovoltaic system had sent over 2,500 kilowatt hours back to the grid after providing all of the cottage’s energy needs.

Zero Cottage

Special House No. 9

Special House No. 9 is a home designed by KieranTimberlake for the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans as part of the post-Hurricane Katrina Make it Right (MIR) initiative.

In contrast with Zero Cottage’s challenge of creating a supremely energy-efficient home in an urban setting, Special House No. 9’s location mandated the prioritization of safety, water management and indoor environmental comfort.

In response to the Lower Ninth Ward’s flooding during Hurricane Katrina, Special House No. 9 is designed to sit on stilts. The land surrounding the home is composed of permeable surfaces designed to accept all of the site’s stormwater runoff. In the event of a storm or excess precipitation, runoff is directed towards a wetland for bio-filtration before discharge to the sewer system. In addition to its improved stormwater management techniques, the dwelling has several cisterns capable of capturing up to 600 gallons of rainwater for reuse via irrigation and/or toilet flushing (if and when local laws permit it).

In the hot, humid climate of New Orleans, the dwelling is designed to maintain efficiency while providing year-round comfort to the building’s inhabitants. The home’s east-west orientation and its large, vegetated trellis system limit direct exposure to the sun during the hottest months of the year.

The home also has strategically located operable windows and transoms throughout its exterior envelope. Additional energy expenditures for indoor climate control are diminished by the home’s geothermal HVAC system. And if, after all of that, the New Orleans climate is still too hot to handle, residents can resort to turning on the ceiling-mounted fans.

No 9

The dwellings described above have been certified as Platinum level homes in the LEED for Homes rating system. 

 

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