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You are not required to show in-text citation of Mehdizadeh et al. (2013). However, please have the reference section at the end of your document. Summarize the paper while answering the

questions below:

Define the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) (1-2 sentence(s)).
Define LEED for Homes (1-2 sentence(s)).
Explain the motivation and objective of this study.
Any critique on the methodology or study design? You do not have to criticize the statistical method.
What are the major findings of this study and explanations of the findings by the authors? Do you agree with their findings?
Any LEED Homes in Oregon? Describe the house in terms of its price, affordability, certification level, location, and one notable green house characteristic (1-2 sentence(s)).

Journal of Sustainable Development; Vol. 6, No. 5; 2013
ISSN 1913-9063   E-ISSN 1913-9071
Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education

The Green Housing Privilege? An Analysis of the Connections
Between Socio-Economic Status of California Communities and
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification
Roshan Mehdizadeh
, Martin Fischer
& Judee Burr

Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, USA
Correspondence: Roshan Mehdizadeh, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 473 Via
Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. E-mail:

Received: January 3, 2013      Accepted: March 28, 2013      Online Published: April 16, 2013
doi:10.5539/jsd.v6n5p37          URL:

This statistical analysis investigated the socio-economic  patterns of current residential Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) certification in Californi a cities and towns. Specifically focusing on the LEED
certification process, this analysis  assesses the correlation between the pe rcent of residential buildings with
LEED certification in California places and the socio-econ omic characteristics of those places. The pre-analytic
hypothesis was that wealthier cities and towns would ha ve a greater number of LEED certified homes with
higher levels of LEED certification.
The results of Pearson correlation testing using the statistical software R showed no statistically significant
relationship between the total number of LEED certified homes or at any level of certification and the
socio-economic characteristics of  the places in question. One very influential  factor in this finding is the lack of
available data-of the 1466 places in California treated as distinct by the  U.S. Census with available economic
information, only 75 of them had at least one LEED certified home.
Another important factor is the role of community development organizations in constructing LEED certified
homes. 99.9% of the affordable homes considered in this report were part of large developments (2458 out of
2460 affordable homes), 76% of market-rate homes (anything outside of the “affordable” category) were part of
large developments (238 of 314 homes), and 97% of all homes considered (2696 out of 2774) were part of large
developments. This analysis of LEED certified homes  in California at the admi ttedly early stages of
implementation raises further questions about whether the LEED program can function as  a tool for the private
homeowner and whether a process currently influenced largely by developers can serve the needs of
communities and homeowners.
Keywords: energy and environmental design, certification, socio-economic, green building, affordable homes,
community and real estate development
1. Introduction
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program was established in 1998 as “a voluntary,
consensus-based national standard to support and valid ate successful green building design, construction, and
operations” (ICF Consulting, February 2003). This national green building certification system was formed by
the U.S. Green Building Council (U SGBC) and is designed to offer third-party building certification and
professional design guidelines and accr editation services (ICF Consulting,  February 2003). LEED takes an
“integrated design approach,” which examines the potential of the site itself, water conservation, energy
efficiency and renewable energy, selection of materi als, and indoor environmental quality. Once certified, a
building can be classified into one of four tiered leve ls of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and
Platinum. The LEED certification progra m requires more “green elements” for higher levels of green building
certification, with platinum certifica tion being the highest level. A building is awarded points based on the
number of elements it includes, thereby determining its  certification level. According to a report on green
housing standards, higher levels of certification can  include stormwater retention through landscaping,
innovative wastewater technologies,  reflective roofs, energy generating sources, personal comfort controls,
certified woods, low-emitting materials, and advanced m onitoring systems (ICF Consulting, February 2003).

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Contrary to our the pre-analytic hypothesis that LEED re sidences would be disproportionately present in wealthy
communities, the large nu mber of residences classified by LEED as affordable indicates that LEED residences
might be disproportionately present in low-income communities, as many of these homes are being built to be
affordable. Since the goal of the  program is to create affordable residential developments, low-income
communities may be the beneficiaries of more LEED project s-providing reason to believe that there might be a
negative correlation between a socio-economic factor like income level and the percentage of LEED certified
homes in California communities.
Community-based development organizations play a large ro le in LEED certified home  construction, especially
due to the costs of registration, certification, and initial costs of implementing the green technologies necessary
for certification. This is especially true because there are volume-based discounts available for registration of a
large number of LEED housing projects. Registration of 10 or more single-family homes or a multi-family
project with 50 or more units makes housing projects eligible for housing based discounts. Furthermore, the
expenses associated with initial building or renovation costs of the LEED certification process plus the costs of
certification and registration make building and certifying a residence out of reach for most individual
homeowners. To have a project registered a fee of $450 is applied for USGBC members and $600 for
nonmembers. The average certification fee is $2,000, which varies depending on the project size (LEED for
Homes, 2012). There are also more co sts as the certification level increases,  as the requirements become more
stringent and call for more costly items; like solar panels or monitoring the energy performance of a building. At
the gold and platinum levels of LEED certification, points are given for more costly technologies that have not
become accessible or mainstream enough  to be reduced in price; like solar cell technology or wind turbines.
Partially due to these costs associated with greening a home and getting LEED certification, community-based
development organizations have played a notable role in developing affordable green residences. This has some
clear benefits, like those outlined in a report on the costs  and benefits of green affordable housing. These benefits
include the idea that large housing developments are large and visible, thereby promoting green housing, CBOs
can construct green residences cost-effectively, CBOs ofte n have access to funds that can assist in green homes
construction, and that CBOs often already have a connection with the communities in which they work
(Bradshaw, 2005).
However, this involvement of CBOs also comes at the cost  of direct engagement by homeowners with the green
housing movement. More research is needed to examine the engagement of homeowners with residences that
have been planned and constructed by a CBO. While CBO involvement can financially facilitate the ability of
low-income residents to live in LEED certified homes, it is possible that CBO involv ement can negatively affect
community ownership and engagement with the green housing movement. Although this analysis does not
answer this question, it is also important to ask whether  residents experience all the benefits of living in a green
home when that home is built as part of a development by a third party. There may be less tangible benefits, like
engagement of homeowners and communities with the green  movement, that are lost without direct involvement
by community members in the certification process. It is known that green buildings provide positive outcomes
for homeowners and represent an active way to engage in  sustainable living practices (Bradshaw, 2005). Green
homes reduce homeowner costs in the long run, lower energy usage, and provide increased comfort and a
healthy living environment for the homeowner (Bradshaw, 2005; USGBC, 2012). If it is the case that it is
disproportionately difficult for so cio-economically disadvantaged memb ers of the community to access LEED
certified homes, such a lack of access would include a  lack of access to benefits like lower household
maintenance costs and living costs, greater comfort,  and a greater ability to become involved in a more
sustainable lifestyle. The methodology below will explain how we analyzed the relationship between LEED
certified homes in California an d the socio-economic characteristics of the cities in which they appear in order to
answer empirical questions about the patterns of socio-economic characteristics of California places where green
buildings appear.
2. Methodology
The aim of this analysis was to use LEED for Homes project information and U.S. Census data to determine the
relationship between the occurrence an d certification levels of LEED residences in California cities and towns
and the corresponding socio-economic characteristics of th e cities and towns in which buildings are constructed.  Journal of Sustainable Development  Vol. 6, No. 5; 2013