LEED is an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a rating system by which a building's energy efficiency and environmental impact is measured.

Using a point-based system, homes and businesses are voluntarily rated for indoor air quality, energy and water use, the environmental impact of the building site, and the materials used in the construction of the building. In other words, LEED rates how green a building is.

LEED has programs to educate home owners about green home ownership. LEED also encourages builders to be innovative in their building strategies.

LEED means different things for homebuyers, sellers, and builders. If you are building a home, LEED criteria can act as a guideline for your home's construction. If you are buying a home, you can look for the LEED label and use that to help you rank the various homes you're considering. And if you are selling your home, having a LEED certification can help enhance your selling prospects.

Some people simply want to get LEED certified in their own residence. They are not planning to buy or sell; they just want to make sure they are living in a way that causes as little environmental impact as possible. Are you a home owner who would like to get LEED certified? Here's how to get started.

First of all, it's important to recognize that LEED certification applies to construction projects, not existing homes. If you want LEED certification on your current residence, you will have to present some kind of construction plan to a LEED for Homes program.

To see if your project qualifies, go to the registration segment of the U.S. Green Building Council's website, usgbc.org. You can also find information on this site about your local LEED for Homes Providers organization and how to contact them. There is even a video tutorial on the LEED for Homes certification process.

Next you have to register, and this is done via the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). You can do it online at the site noted above. You will have to pay a registration fee, which ranges from $150 to $600, depending on the size of the building, number of residents, and whether or not you are a member of the USGBC.

Some things to consider as you prepare for LEED certification include:

* Location – LEED looks for homes that are near areas of commerce and education. The closer you are to your school and shopping, the less fuel you will use and the less greenhouse gases you will emit. LEED buildings should also be harmonious with their site, not causing erosion or other environmental problems.

* Materials – You should use sustainable, natural materials in your construction project.

* Innovation – Innovative ways of using water, generating electricity, and other clever use of resources will enhance your LEED score.

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