What Does it Mean to Buy Green?

What Does It Mean to Buy Green?.png

What Does it Mean to Buy Green?

Do you know the meaning of LEED, net zero ENERGY STAR and the HERS Index? Do you know the difference? What does it mean to be environmentally-friendly? With help from Trulia, we have created a guide for the most commonly used green standards.


Created by the US Green Building Council, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is the most widely known and commonly used green standard in the US. LEED is a points-based system certification that buildings and homes can attain.

A home can earn points for use of sustainable materials and energy-saving strategies, the construction process, waste management and building maintenance.

Sustainable features include:

  • LED lights

  • Low VOC or no VOC paints and carpets

  • Cork and bamboo flooring

  • Low flush toilets

  • Graywater treatment systems

  • Energy Star appliances

  • Water efficient landscaping

  • Energy efficient boilers

Since the highest performing, energy saving materials are more expensive, you can use the LEED standards as a guideline for building or buying your home without attaining LEED certification. As long as you know your home is energy efficient, and that’s reflected on your utility bills, there’s not a need for the LEED certification.

Net Zero Energy

Net zero energy is a more focused green standard than LEED, with the goal of reducing energy consumption which translates to reduced carbon emissions and less dependence on fossil fuels. Homes in the US consume 37 percent of the US electricity production.

A net zero energy home produces all of the energy it consumers onsite through a renewable energy system: either solar panels, a wind turbine or a combination of both. These are expensive to install, but prices are decreasing and there are federal tax credits to cut down the costs. Additionally, if the house produces more energy than it consumes, the surplus energy can be sold back to the grid.

ENERGY STAR Appliances

Appliances come with two costs: what it costs to buy it and what it costs to operate and maintain it. ENERGY STAR appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances. Benefits include lower utility bills where appliances account for almost 20 percent of energy use, improved quality and durability due the the higher quality components that last longer and have fewer problems, and enhanced performance due to improved design and advanced technology.  Products that can earn the ENERGY STAR include windows, heating and cooling equipment, lighting and appliances.

HERS Home Energy Rating System

The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network where homes built to the HERS Reference Home scores a HERS Index of approximately 100, while a net zero energy home scores a HERS Index of 0. The lower the HERS Index, the more efficient the home. HERS Index for homes is similar to a miles-per-gallon rating for cars.

Score variables include:

  • Amount and location of air leaks

  • Amount of leakage from HVAC distribution ducts

  • Effectiveness of insulation inside walls and ceilings

  • Any existing or potential safety issues

  • Floors over unconditioned spaces

  • Attics, foundations, and crawlspaces

  • Windows and doors, vents and ductwork

  • Water heating system and thermostats

Our builders build homes with these environmental standards in mind. If you need help looking for a homesite or a ready to move-in home, please contact us today!

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