Austin gets it right when it comes to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certified homes. Recently, a group of Austin homebuilders pooled their green initiatives and provided residents a unique opportunity to look up close and personal at a variety of different LEED® certified homes.Originally developed by the U.S. Green Building Council as a rating system for commercial buildings, the LEED® certification standards have been met with success by Austin homebuilders and other residential projects throughout the country.All homes on the recent showcase tour had to meet certain sustainable criteria.• A LEED® Silver certification• A Five-Star Austin Energy Green Building Rating• A Gold Rating form the National Association of Home BuildersThis is the country’s first parade of new construction where all homes on the tour were required to maintain three distinct certifications. The initiative underscores Austin’s commitment to sustainable energy but also highlights encouraging trends in the residential sector.More and more builders are finding that buyers want environmentally friendly homes. While the initial construction costs may run about 2% higher than conventional construction, the energy savings alone can lower household operating costs by as much as 20-30%.Most of the homes on the Austin tour offer 3500 square feet. They homes feature dramatic architecture, quality workmanship and innovative energy design. Homes are sited to make use of natural lighting and shade and sustainable polished flooring. Exteriors combine stone, wood, glass and concrete.The joint venture by local builders included experts at each home who could explain the sustainable features of the residence. Builders want buyers to understand the insight on how elements were incorporated into the variety of differing designs.Austin has embraced green initiatives. The city was the first in the United States to require sustainable standards for commercial building. While the residential real estate market continues to struggle through the recession, green construction is spurring new buyers to act. Austin knows that sustainable sells and joint efforts by builder will help keep the green initiative moving forward.