Is it worth it to pursue LEED Certification on a home? Is it worth it to get to the Platinum level?
As someone who did pursue LEED Certification on our own home (we got to the Gold level), my answer to the first question is a resounding YES. While certification itself costs a little more (in the $5,000-$10,000 range), you get the benefit of a third party verifying that your home is built to LEED standards - which is no easy task.
Since your home may be your most expensive asset, isn't it worth it to ensure its durability, efficiency, and health? On top of that, when you go to sell your home, LEED Certification will enhance its value. That's because in one word, the potential buyer can be ensured that the operation costs of the home will be lower, the indoor air quality will be healthy, and the home was built to last.
The next question is a little trickier. Obtaining the actual LEED Certification by itself my cost several thousand dollars, and all the things the home builder did to get to LEED Certification may have cost more — but they usually pay back over time, and you get some bang for your buck. However, trying to obtain all of the points necessary to get to the platinum level may require a lot more expense for not a lot more benefit. This is an example of the law of diminishing marginal returns.
For instance, insulating a home up to a certain R-value gives you a significant return from lower energy bills. But getting additional insulation past the recommended level can be a lot more expensive, and the utility bills will just not go down that much. With LEED, it is my belief that you get the most benefit from just going for certification, and if it's not hard or too expensive to get additional points, then go for a higher level.
The question as to whether Platinum is worth it is indeed a personal decision, but in many cases it might just be too difficult, or even irrational. Gold, Silver and Certified are all admirable levels that are probably more practical for most homes.
Melissa provides sustainability consulting services for businesses in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Melissa is also the founder of Green Intention LLC, where she writes and blogs about her experience in getting her own home LEED Gold certified--and then trying to live more sustainably in the home. She chairs her congregation’s Task Force for Sustainability, has her MBA, Master's in Public Policy, and is a LEED AP for Homes.