LEED Green Homes

Green apartments offer residents health benefits of improved air and water quality

Manhattan Green Apartments

Green apartment listings are sprouting all over Manhattan — and with good reason. It’s not just that green apartment buildings offer residents the health benefits of improved air and water quality, the financial windfall of notably lower energy bills and the aesthetic satisfaction of innovative designs, although there is all that. In addition to all those green benefits, New York’s green condominiums are every bit as appealing, and notably more efficient, than conventionally designed condos — anyone still clinging to the idea of green buildings as dull, dutiful or otherwise un-New York will be startled at how sustainability and style are combined in Manhattan’s green condominiums.

While the world of green real estate can seem confusing to newbies — there are a lot of acronyms, from green building certifications such as LEED on down, and innovative green building measures such as low-e windows and low-VOC flooring are not yet household-phrase familiar — it’s fundamentally quite simple. Manhattan’s growing crop of new construction green buildings offers more — more inventive and forward-thinking green building techniques, more efficiency and more savings — by using, consuming and costing less. It’s elegant in its simplicity — and it’s working. Green apartment listings are everywhere in Manhattan: Battery Park City is packed with green living spaces, and LEED-certified condominiums are flourishing on the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, in Chelsea and Greenwich Village and even the very heart of Midtown.

How do you know if a given apartment listing is a green apartment listing? More and more, the answer is through third-party certification. Some green apartment listings choose not to pursue certification from Energy Star — a program run by the United States Department of Energy that measures a building’s operating efficiency — or the LEED Green Building Rating System, which is run by the United States Green Buildings Council and grades green buildings according to their design; Frank Gehry’s luxury rental at 8 Spruce Street, for instance, opted not to pursue third-party certification despite its numerous sustainable attributes. But for the most part, green buildings are certified as such. Just what that green certification means, though, depends on the building.


LEED, for instance, awards points based on different green attributes, ranging from efficient lighting to ultra-modern heating and air-conditioning systems to the use of recycled materials in the construction process. It can get kind of abstract, here, but the benefits of living in a green apartment are plain and very concrete — most notably, the efficient building management systems in green apartment buildings save energy and lower energy costs for residents. This means that those living in Manhattan’s green condos get the added bonus of paying less when it comes to utilities than the average New York City resident. Each green building gets there in its own way, but Manhattan’s green buildings maximize energy efficiency by around 15 percent above conventional condo listings on average, both through efficiency in the construction process (through the use of recycled and reusable materials) and in terms of operation (thanks to everything from Energy Star appliances to ultra-efficient HVAC systems). Some green buildings even generate their own energy on-site through solar power or wind power, and other high-end green buildings feature green roofs, water recycling, and other futuristic green design elements. But there’s one basic truth about every green condominium in Manhattan — they are notably more efficient than their conventional counterparts.

And, of course, green buildings offer numerous quality of life benefits that don’t show up in those Con Ed bills. Thanks to green buildings’ uncommonly good ventilation, efficient heating systems, and air filtration systems, the air in green apartments is purer and safer. And there’s also the simple satisfaction that comes with knowing that your luxury condominium is operating in a responsible, efficient way. And, of course, many of Manhattan’s green condominiums are lovely looking on the outside. But in green building, it’s what’s on the inside that makes a difference. It’s an elegant and very forward-thinking approach, and one that has already changed Manhattan real estate — and promises to continue to do so in years and decades to come. Green building is no fad. It’s just a better, simpler way to live — and Manhattan’s green condominiums are proof that sustainability and style can indeed coexist.

LEED for Homes Certification Program

Washington, DC

LEED for Homes is a voluntary rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes, including affordable housing, mass-production homes, custom designs, stand-alone single-family homes, duplexes and townhouses, suburban and urban apartments and condominiums and lofts in historic buildings.

What is LEED?

LEED is a rating system that measures how green a building is. All around the world, LEED is the standard for green buildings: offices, hospitals, schools, stores – and homes.

  • LEED is a Tool
    For homebuilders, LEED is a tool to measure the quality and sustainability of its homes against the marketplace.
  • LEED is a Scorecard
    For homebuyers, LEED is a Scorecard—like a nutrition label—that gives a clear, concise picture of all the ways a green home performs at a higher level.
  • LEED is a Seal of Quality
    For residents, LEED is a seal of quality, providing peace of mind that they are living in a home designed to deliver fresh air indoors and improved water and energy efficiency.

How does LEED make my home better?

Four critical ways:

  1. Savings: This home will save you energy, water, and therefore money.
  2. Health: This home has been built to provide a healthy environment for you and your family.
  3. Value: Data has shown that LEED buildings often sell for more, and in less time, than non-green buildings.
  4. Trust: The U.S. Green Building Council has inspected, tested and given the green stamp of approval to every LEED home.

What makes LEED different from other “Green” programs?

LEED for Homes is the most established green building program in the marketplace and is the most difficult certification to achieve, for two reasons:

  1. Comprehensive: Instead of focusing on just one area, LEED homes are green in every way:
    • Energy
    • Water
    • Indoor air quality
    • Types of materials used
    • Thoughtful land use and landscaping
    • Educating homeowners on the home’s green features
  2. Rigor: LEED is considered the most rigorous of all the available home programs.
    • It’s difficult to meet LEED’s requirements, and every home is inspected and tested to ensure that these requirements are met.
    • There are no shortcuts!

What do the different levels of a LEED home mean? (Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum)

  • You can think of LEED as a checklist, in that it sets targets and tracks progress during the design and construction of a green home. You can also think of LEED as a scorecard that gives a clear, concise picture of all the ways a green home performs.
  • Higher-scoring homes within the LEED rating system earn higher certification levels (Silver, Gold, Platinum)

How does LEED focus on the entire home and not just one aspect of a home?

  • Energy: LEED requires that this home’s energy performance exceed any local code requirements by at least 15%. This includes testing of the home’s overall envelope and its ductwork, as well as multiple inspections during construction.
  • Water: LEED requires that the home incorporate a minimum number of water efficiency measures.
  • Indoor Air Quality: LEED ensures that the home ventilates properly, requires high-efficiency air filters, reduces moisture, and the possibility of mold or mildew.
  • Materials: LEED ensures that construction waste is minimized and that environmentally-preferable products are used where possible.
  • Land: LEED ensures that great care went into the decisions on where the homes would be located, taking advantage of local resources and infrastructure, and how the landscape features were designed.
  • Education: LEED requires the builder to educate the homeowner or tenant on all of the green features of the home through a homeowner’s manual.

Why am I familiar with LEED?

Chances are you have been in a number of LEED certified buildings already!

  • Over 1 billion square feet of LEED certified space, over 7 billion in the pipeline.
  • Over 1 million square feet of new LEED space certified every day.
  • Over 2,000 schools are LEED or in the pipeline.
  • A few famous LEED buildings (certified or in process):
    • Empire State Building (NYC)
    • Sears Tower Building (Chicago)
    • The Pentagon (Washington, DC)
    • Children’s Hospital (Pittsburgh, PA)
    • California Academy of Science (San Francisco CA)
    • Boston Logan Airport (Boston MA)
    • Olympic Villages: Beijing, Vancouver
  • Starbucks: committed to LEED for all new stores.
  • Other businesses committing to LEED: Bank of America, PNC Bank, Best Buy, Target, Marriott.
  • Over 10,000 LEED homes in the U.S., 30,000 LEED homes in the pipeline
  • Over 400 Habitat for Humanity LEED homes

How Do I Get Started?

  • Talk to your builder, real-estate professional or architect about LEED.
  • Contact a LEED for Homes Provider in your area.
  • Look for the LEED for Homes logo, which shows homes seeking certification.

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