Articles or news that emphasize the economic value of green building.

RH PV roof shot

MI Solar works in Muskegon – Project update

Hesselink Installation – Completed May 19, 2014 – Update January 2015

Why?  Someone has to take a risk and start the ball rolling.  I have always believed in leading by example. Solar does work in Michigan and I want to provide details that actually demonstrate that solar is affordable for an average home owner, on an existing home and that it does work in Michigan. It is exciting to see that so far we are on track for the projected 80%  of my $55.00 monthly savings– Renae Hesselink

Renea Headshot & Solar Pv


  • Muskegon County, Egelston Township
  • 5 KW System, 18 panels, SolarWorld, Made in USA, Solarworld purchases from businesses in Michigan exceeds $1 million
  • Footprint: Approximately 360 square feet
  • 2012 Electric Usage 12,149 Kwh, $ 1686.39 total  Average of 1012
  • 1470 square feet roof
  • 2012 Electric Usage  12,149 Kwh, $ 1686.39 total  Average of 1012 Kwh/month
  • 2013 Electric Usage 8,663 Kwh $1283.18 total  Average of 721 Kwh/month

 Related Costs:

  • Removal of a tree $500 *
  • Upgrade Electrical Panel to 200 amp $1500 *
  • Consumers Energy Application $100
  • Amount Financed: $14,580 @ 7% 10 years
  • Payments $168.10
  • Expected Payback 10 years
  • Expected Panel Life 25 years warranty, life 25 years +
  • Estimated 30% Federal Tax Credit when file 2014 taxes $4810
  • Bottom line cost after 30% tax credit $9770.00

Things to consider:

  • My house faces east so I will not get the maximum production – south facing is the best
  • Inverter replacement expected around year 15

Results after the first 26 days of production

*Not adding into the cost of the system to figure out my return on investment, as I would have done this anyway

Here is a summary of my journey:

September 2013 – was notified that the Mi Solar program is available on the west side of Michigan now

Completed the online application to Srinergy, sent them 12 months of my electric usage – copies of my

Consumers Energy billsUpdate Solar Usage

  • Srinergy determined that I would be eligible with the removal of a tree in my front yard – proposal received
  • October 6, 2013 – tree removed
  • October 18, 2013 – applied for a loan through Genisys Credit Union (I did not have a relationship with a credit union in Michigan which was a requirement for a loan) – approved at 7% interest rate
  • October 21, 2013 Received and signed contract from Srinergy
  • Late October determined that my electrical panel needed to be upgraded to a 200 amp – this was a slow process as I tried to find someone locally to do this work. Finally received a proposal in early January and work was completed in early March. With the harsh winter we had some of the delay was due to having work to be completed outside.
  • December 20, 2013 – Generator Interconnection Application completed and submitted to Consumers Energy with a check for $100 and a site plan
  • Then the harsh, harsh winter sets in and we waited and waited until the deep snow piles surrounding my house disappeared and it warmed up enough to work outside – a very long winter and spring didn’t appear until May it seems like. During this time we attempted to find a local electrical contractor that was willing to learn the skills to install. I originally tried to get the contractor that I had worked with to be the one and they were very slow to respond. Finally Sirnergy found Belasco Electric of Muskegon to work with and train.
  • Pulling the building permit from my Township took about three weeks. Not sure why so long but it finally came through the week of May 5, 2014.
  • May 19, 2014 – installation begins and is completed by May 21st. Before we could turn on the system it had to be approved by the electrical inspector and building inspector which all occurred by May 23rd.
  • May 23rd at 5:00 p.m. I flipped the switch on.
  • A week or so later I received my online account information for Watch-A-Watt so I could view my energy production over the web.
  • May 31, 2014 – completed my installation documents. Afadavit for the Renewable Energy Credits, and completion of the work.
  • June 5, 2014 – completed my loan paperwork, first payment due mid-July
  • Consumers Energy needed to install a bi-directional smart meter – I had a smart meter that had been installed last year but needed to be change and they did that on June 11, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.
  • June 9th received a request that our Township Building Inspector wanted to come on-site to inspect – that was done on June 12th and no issue – received a sign-off

solar2 003

Other things to consider:

Somewhere in that timeline (early on) I also contacted my home insurance company to inquire about extra coverage which was not needed.

Local Fire Department – which I have yet to do as of June 19th – received a document from Srinergy (my request) on how to handle a fire on a structure with rooftop solar. I want to take this and meet with my local fire chief. Training and awareness opportunity.

Things that I will be watching and reporting:  Property Value

Project Team

o  Installer: Srinergy

o  Electrical Contractor: Belasco Electric

Sign up for a free home solar assessment today!

Green Building & Remodeling Tax Credits

There are currently 2 Federal tax credits for energy efficiency and 1 commercial tax deduction. Information on the forms needed to claim these are in bold below. Most LEED for Homes or GreenStar projects will also meet the eligible requirements of the tax credits

Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

What: Tax credits equal to 10% of the material costs paid by the taxpayer for qualified energy-efficient improvements installed from January 2012 through December 2013.

Who: Homeowners

Limits: Improvements installed in 2012 and 2013, can get a maximum credit of $500. If you have claimed more than $500 in energy-efficient tax credits since January 1, 2005—you are not eligible to make a tax credit claim in 2012 or 2013.

Claim: Use IRS Tax Form 5695 (version 2009).

NOTE: For insulation to qualify, its primary purpose must be to insulate. It must be expected to last five years OR have a two-year warranty. Installation costs are not included. GreenStar Remodeling Certification Can help!

Builder Tax Credit for Energy-Efficient Homes:

What: $2,000 tax credit for new, energy-efficient homes that achieve 50% heating and cooling savings over a comparable dwelling unit constructed in accordance with the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and supplements. LEED for Homes certified projects with applicable HERS scores will qualify.

Who: Home builders

Limits: The credit is retroactive to January 1, 2012 and covers homes built through December 31, 2013 for homes sold or leased in 2012 and 2013.

Claim: Eligible contractors should fill out IRS Form 8908.

Commercial Tax Deduction:

What: Tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for new or existing commercial buildings that save at least 50% of the heating and cooling energy of a building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001.

Who: Owners or designers of new or existing commercial buildings.

Limits: Available for systems “placed in service” from January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2013.

NOTE: Partial deductions of up to $.60 per square foot can be taken for measures affecting any one of three building systems: the building envelope, lighting, or heating and cooling systems. LEED for Homes Midrise Certified Buildings will help to achieve requirements 

Claim: Check with your accountant to claim this deduction.

Will this be renewed in 2014?​

No word yet. Most of them have been renewed for several years. But with all that’s going on, I don’t think it’s at the top of the agenda. Usually if it’s renewed it happens at the very end of the calendar year or the first couple of months of the next.


You also can find a list of local tax incentives at

SW/W Michigan Green MLS by adding sustainability features to home listings

The South West Michigan Regional Information Center (SWMRIC), who represents many of the regions Realtor associations  “is addressing the “green features” in a residential property by adding a new “Green Features Section” to the Residential Data Input Form. This new section is divided into two parts: Green Features and Green Certification/Rating.”  *  To see the full list of all Green Features and Listed certifications please go to the SWMRIC link and scroll to page 4.

advocates for and helps Midwestern Realtor Associations find ways to incorporate green features and certification in their listings for  appropriate valuation of Green Homes. These Green MLS upgrades are  key in driving demand for affordable, healthy, durable and efficient home construction, remodeling and purchasing.

Currently we see many problematic issues facing undervalued green homes because local realtors, lenders and appraisers lack the education and awareness to properly assess value to these beyond code practices. The local Habitat for Humanity in Kent County that has committed to all LEED silver Homes since 2007 but has yet to have their home properly valued in comparison to non green homes in the neighborhood. I can also think of my own home which recently was certified Bronze under the MI GreenStar Program by adding $25,000 of green upgrades into a $75k house and increasing Energy/Water efficiency and improving Indoor Air Quality, only to be given less than 1% increase in home value.

Thanks to demand from the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids Home Builders Associations, SWMRIC has decided to take this progressive approach and follow in the footsteps of places such as Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Traverse City and the recent Greening of the MLS  in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

Looking to Green your local MLS? Reach out to today to learn how we can help shape your program. 616 458 6733 ext 1 or

*Information pulled for this release can be seen here 




LEED for Homes Registrations as of 2013 Q2

LEED Homes: New Energy Pathway & Program Market Share

“Starting with the LEED NC program, multifamily adoption of LEED really took off when the LEED for Homes and LEED Midrise programs were 

LEED for Homes Registrations as of 2013 Q2

launched in 2008. With only 4,000 units participating as of 2009, the LEED for Homes (and LEED Midrise) programs have grown to include over 117,000 units pursuing certification today. Much of this adoption has been in the multifamily market.  Nearly 90% of the units in the residential LEED programs are from multifamily buildings and as far as market share goes, during 2012 over 10% of all new US multifamily units chose LEED certification. “   Read More – Taken from

Based on the National Association of Home Builders Housing Start Data in the Midwest – LEED for Homes program market share has 2.1% of all new housing starts in 2012 including Multi Family and Single Family and was 1.3% of from Jan – May in 2013 (Included a 10K + Housing start increase). This really shows that those who choose LEED for Homes as their path are the top leaders in their field.

Out of the 40 Providers in the country has remained around the 10th for LEED for Homes Project Registrations & Certifications, with over 2,600 units certified and 6,000 + registered. You might be saying so what? What is the points of registration? Registration under LEED expresses intent. First off, it is not free and likely someone will not be paying to register until they have thought about the basic principals of LEED; Energy / Water  / Location Efficiency, Improved Indoor Air Quality, Durability, Waste Reduction, Materials Choice and Education/Awareness.  Most projects that have registered have engaged design, construction and energy/green rater professionals in order to think differently about their project and design for above code success. Whether they certify or not, we are excited about the upfront work and thought that leads to registration, finding the first step to be noteworthy.

LEED Certification YTD 13Q2USGBC nationally has now certified just over 40,000 units or a 3rd of all registered projects. Certification means the project team has subjected it self to 3rd party onsite visual verification and performance energy testing with Energy Star for Homes and the Home Energy Rating Score. Certification is not easy and shows the team has taken the steps to ensure their project is more sustainable and the house will be Energy Efficient, Healthy for Occupants, Built to Last and Attainable by Anyone.

Why are we so excited? 

At we celebrate all certified projects by show casing their accomplishments. This happens through helping set up tours to educate the public, documenting post occupancy success based on utility data / indoor air quality studies and overall comfort and homeowner satisfaction. After following up with homeowners and contractors we are showing others how they could accomplish LEED best practices and ideal certification at an affordable manner.

Anything less would be a failure to support our mission, we are not in the business to just certify homes but to use that certification as a success story.

As continues to pursue and celebrate LEED certification success with our community we are excited to see the USGBC continue to push the envelope.

“Continuous improvement ensures that the LEED rating systems stay relevant in a time when policies, technologies and the needs of the industry are constantly changing. In the last three years, residential construction energy codes rapidly have become more stringent, a trend we anticipate will continue. The updates in LEED v4 (the newest version of LEED for Homes) respond to these changes, and now USGBC aims to update the 2008 version of LEED for Homes by beginning an official update process. “

A ballot proposal is out to for “v2008 that will increase the stringency of the energy prerequisite by roughly 15%, approximately equivalent to the energy performance of ENERGY STAR v3, 15% above International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2009 and equivalent to IECC 2012. ” Before a HERS Score of 85 was acceptable on a LEED certified home but this would push it to require a HERS of 70 now starting on April 1st 2014

” Currently, over 90% of all certified projects are scoring lower than a HERS 70.” Learn more here

In order to keep the relevancy of the LEED for Homes program which has given a language to LEED. We celebrate registrations and certification, education and constant improvement is the direction to go.

Also see this report on Michigan

Jlenz Rapid Growth Habitat

expands and fills ED position due to growth in Green Building Market

A local nonprofit organization that educates and trains homeowners, builders, architects, and others in green building practices is growing.Jlenz Rapid Growth Habitat

The Green Home Institute () began in 2000 as a resource for sharing best practices in sustainable building. In 2005, they became one of only 12 organizations designated by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to support a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes pilot program. There are now 38 LEED for Homes providers around the country and primarily serves the Midwest. In addition to their location on Wealthy Street, they also have staff in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis.

Recently, named Brett Little as its new executive director and Jamison Lenz as its LEED for Homes Program Manager. Both men are graduates of the Aquinas College Sustainable Business program.

Little served as the administrative director at before getting promoted. He started as a volunteer, then became an intern, and later, an AmeriCorps VISTA employee. He and his wife Laura recently spent around $30,000 “greening” their 87-year-old home. Afterward, Little and his wife noticed a 50 percent reduction in their heat bills and their electric usage decreased by 30-60 percent as well.  (You can read more about the Littles’ greening experience in a previous Rapid Growth article here.)

Lenz’s position was created with a grant from the Home Inspector General, a residential energy inspection company operated by President and Founder Michael Holcomb. Before joining the team, Lenz was a volunteer and later, an AmeriCorps VISTA employee at the Habitat for Humanity, where he helped with LEED construction administrative work.

Lenz will assist with client documentation and residential LEED consulting services, while Little will mostly focus on launching new initiatives.

With these recent staff changes, is implementing more programs in addition to the time currently spent educating people and organizations interested in the LEED for Homes program.

The way LEED for Homes works is that each registered project must have a third party Green Rater to handle the onsite verification. Green Raters ensure specific conditions have been met on the LEED for Homes checklist. Based on how many points the project has achieved, the home can earn the basic certification level on up to the highest level of Platinum LEED certification.

Additionally, energy performance testing must be done by a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater, which many Green Raters do as well. The greater a home’s heating and cooling efficiency is, the lower the HERS number and the more LEED points earned.

The LEED for Homes certification also takes a holistic approach to building so features such as being located within the city and near bus routes add points. If a person can walk to where they need to go and not use a car, that helps improve the environment.

Lenz says that living in a LEED-certified home is “more than just lower energy bills, it’s also about having a healthy environment where you can raise your family and be connected to the community in which you live.”

Builders, contractors, or homeowners typically work with the Green Rater on measures they can take to raise the number of points and level of certification. also consults with them and acts as a liaison between the Green Raters and the USGBC.

Some common tips to get more LEED points include adding a level of insulation to increase the HERS score or using only non-invasive plants in landscaping. Another simple way to raise points is to keep all plants at least two feet away from the house to prevent pest infestations.

When the home construction is completely finished and the Green Rater has turned in all required documentation, reviews it and then submits it to USGBC to obtain the final certification.

If that sounds like it’s a lot of work for builders and contractors, it often can be at first and it usually also costs two to three percent more to build a LEED-certified home. However, Little and Lenz assure their customers it gets easier with time and it’s definitely worth it.

“Building to LEED certification is not easy, nor should it be,” says Lenz. “But the more you build to this standard, it will soon become ingrained into your mindset and all that you do.”

Little adds that only about three percent of homes get LEED certified. “Most builders are not interested because they think it’s too hard,” he says.

typically works with contractors, builders, and architects and not many homeowners. In order for an existing house to become LEED for Homes certified, Little says “a homeowner pretty much has to gut their whole house, so it’s a big deal.”

Some of the advantages of having a LEED-certified home are lower utility bills, increased air quality, less illnesses and allergies, reduced impact on the environment, and a higher resale value.

“On average, we will spend 90 percent of our lives indoors, therefore it’s paramount that our buildings are healthy, efficient, and connected to the community,” says Lenz.

In 2012, hosted free monthly webinars, which were quite successful and attracted attendees from around the world. They’re planning on doing more in 2013 with topics ranging from the LEED process, green building leaders and products, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and more.

, in partnership with Integrated Architecture, Habitat for Humanity, and the City of Grand Rapids, was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from Bank of America to transform the Wealthy Heights neighborhood into a LEED Neighborhood Development area. This will ensure healthy, affordable, efficient, and durable construction and remodeling practices. Chris Hall, formerly with Habitat, and Matthew VanSweden of Integrated Architecture worked with Little to acquire the grant.

is also now putting together a Living Building Challenge team. This “next generation of LEED for Homes” was developed by the International Living Future Institute.

Little says “if you thought LEED was hard,” the Living Building Challenge is even more complex. The certification is comprised of seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty.  Homes that qualify must have zero energy and water waste, be built with nontoxic materials, maximize health, blend with surroundings, and be socially just and beautiful.

The process is not simple and Little adds, “That’s why they call it a Challenge.”

Another initiative that is starting is green remodeling education and certification for homeowners who want to reduce energy costs. will teach the homeowners ways to become certified, though Little says this isn’t about minor repairs — “you really have to be committed.”

has also recently partnered with Advanced Energy in North Carolina to train HVAC professionals how to become Energy Star Version 3 credentialed installers and designers.

In addition to all of these new initiatives, the staff at has been very busy lately educating people on the LEED for Homes program and other green building tips.

“The market is up for new construction and we follow its success,” Little says.

They’ve been getting some help from students at GVSU, Aquinas, and MSU with video documentation, research, and surveys.

On top of the webinars, training, and consulting they offer, Lenz wants people to know they contact anytime with questions about anything having to do with greening a home.

“Our mission is to get the word out about healthier, more efficient homes,” he says. “It’s more than just about LEED, it’s about green communities.”

Full Article Here 

As the editor of our Do Good section, Heidi writes about nonprofits, educational initiatives, and people and organizations making West Michigan a better place. She’s also a freelance writer, graphic designer, and marketing consultant who works out of her home while being pestered constantly by her two spoiled dogs. You can find her on Twitter at @HeidiSocial, but be aware that she likes her opinions strong and her humor warped

Photographs by Adam Bird

Post Occupancy LEED Graphic

Webinar: Post Occupancy Study – LEED for Homes on Affordable Housing

recently partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) to perform a Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of 235 LEED-certified homes in the Midwest, and we are pleased to share the results.  The goal is to identify the homes’ actual performance after people moved in, and also the

benefits and shortcomings of the current LEED for Home certification system. The survey consisted of various categories including (1) general satisfaction with the LEED-certified home, (2) satisfaction about the home in general and various aspects of the indoor environment, (3) overall well-being including the health impact, (4) energy efficiency and building performance, (5) the environmental behavior of residents, and (6) demographics.

The findings of this study revealed that most residents of the LEED-certified home were satisfied with their home and their quality of life in their home.

Continuing Education 

  • 1 GBCI – General
  • 1 MI Contractor (Code & Green)
  • 1 MI Architect
  • If you need continuing education units for a license in another state, this course may apply. Please consult your state’s requirements.

This webinar is free to review. If you are interested in continuing education credits, you must follow the following steps:

1. Watch the webinar presentation by Eunsil Lee, PhD for FREE.

2. Contact to take the quiz and score at least 80% to be approved. Please also post a comment below and help add to the conversation.

3. Pay the fee below to get your certificate and CEUs. You must be an  member to pay the reduced member fee.

Webinar Pricing

Two methodological approaches were used for this study. Qualitative case studies were conducted with 15 LEED-certified Habitat for Humanity residents in Kent County, Michigan through in-depth interviews, observations, and IEQ measurement. 16 % respondents came from LEED-certified Habitat for Humanity homes in Michigan. These residents in particular, were more satisfied with their homes and their quality of life than residents of Non- Habitat homes were, although their satisfaction with their neighborhood and specific aspects of home environment (e.g., space layout, size of space, finishes, visual privacy, view, temperature, humidity) was lower than that of Non-Habitat residents. Residents of the Habitat for Humanity tended to perceive the improvement of their quality of life since moving into their LEED-certified home more strongly than residents of the Non-Habitat home did. They were also more satisfied with energy efficiency of their home than residents of the Non-Habitat home.

2 page graphic summary of Study PDF Here 

Full 96 Page Report on Post Occupancy Study 

Report Recommendations:

Promote sustainability in low-income housing: More programs should be developed that can offer incentives for participation in LEED green building certification programs and increase funding opportunities to cover the initial costs of sustainable home building for low-income families at both state and local levels, because those efforts will produce long-term economic and environmental benefits.

Improve the design of low-income green housing: Architects, designers, engineers, contractors, and facility managers can gain greater understanding of design and the performance of low-income green homes with the findings of this POE project by receiving feedback for the future projects. Although the houses were LEED-certified, some problems in maintaining the green features, building performance, and comfortable home environment were identified. Architects, designers, engineers, green policy makers, and Habitat for Humanity Affiliates should pay attention to the specific needs relevant to these issues to improve the design quality of low-income green home through the process of planning, design, and construction.

Implement Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE): More extensive implementation of POEs is critical. Since LEED certification is based on “as-designed” performance, further implementation of POEs is exceptionally important to verify actual performance and expected performance. In particular, since there is no mandatory post-occupancy evaluation process included in LEED or other green home certifications, there is no empirical data to verify whether these green homes perform satisfactorily in terms of heating, cooling, or indoor environmental quality.

Contribute to the general body of knowledge: Although there is a consensus about the benefits of green homes, few empirical studies about the actual effects of LEED-certified green homes on residents’ health, comfort, and satisfaction have been conducted. The findings from this study therefore increased understanding of the benefits to be gained from LEED-certified low-income homes by applying empirically tested, research -based knowledge.

Promote public awareness: This report will educate the public about the impact of LEED-certified homes on (1) improving the residential environmental quality and energy efficiency, (2) reducing residents’ health risks and (3) enhancing residents’ comfort and satisfaction by disseminating the results of this research at conferences and by publishing articles in scholarly and extension journals.

Make a Policy Recommendation:

1) Incentives for green homes, such as LEED-certified homes, Energy Star Homes, or National Association of Home Builders’ Green certified homes, should be offered to developers, contractors, and homeowners. This will be critical for both new and existing homes located in the cold regions such as Michigan to encourage energy-efficient green home constructions for low-income families in order to offer lower utility bills.

2) Policy makers should collaborate closely with local builders and developers to apply more green home features to new or existing low-income houses. Certain types of incentives for local builders and developers are desired.

3) Post-occupancy evaluations of green certified homes should be encouraged, particularly for low-income housing. Continuous efforts should be made to save energy and keep green homes energy-efficient for these households and homeowners.

4) We suggest conducting POEs of green certified homes in five or ten years to preserve their green features and energy efficiency. Based on the POEs, the homes may or may not be repaired to keep the original functions of green features. In the POEs and repairing process, local home remodeling companies can be involved. Some incentives should be considered for the local companies or businesses to be involved in this green process if they are small or micro businesses. Tax reductions for these types of companies (i.e., energy auditors, window replacement companies) can promote small entrepreneurs working on sustainable housing projects in local communities. This can create more local jobs.

5) We suggest offering regular educational seminars for residents of green certified homes in order to offer precise information about the green features of their homes and educate them how to keep their homes green. On-site seminars can be offered one or two times in the development phase and right before the new owners take occupancy. Once residents move to their new homes, it is recommended to send flyers via mail or email to remind them of the green features of their homes and inform them of how to use and maintain these features. Mailed or emailed flyers will work better than on-site seminars because many residents have full- or part-time jobs.

6) In addition, incentives should be considered for upgrading low-income housing to make it more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Currently there is a 500 dollar maximum tax credit for upgrading any housing features to make them energy-efficient. This maximum should be increased to keep up with the real cost of upgrading energy-consuming HVAC systems to energy-efficient ones. In particular, more aggressive incentives should be offered to households below a certain income level so that homeowners can be more active in upgrading their conventional houses to energy-efficient green ones.

Thanks to the Michigan Applied Public Policy Research (MAPPR) Grant from the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) and  Michigan State University (MSU) who worked with to perform this Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE).

See more details on a similar LEED Pre-Occupancy Report.

Gulyas Interior LEED for Homes Platinum Indiana

Real numbers for a LEED for Homes Indiana Success Story

The Gulyas residence in Bloomington, Indiana was one of the first homes in Indiana to receive LEED for Homes Platinum certification.  Through the use of passive house techniques and additional sustainable design strategies this project easily met and surpassed the criteria for LEED. 

A home energy metric measuring energy per square foot calculation and spreadsheet was created by Allison Bailes III, PhD, to help effectively measure electric and gas usage in a house.  used this spreadsheet on this project to help get an idea of how efficient the Gulyas residence is.  The number of kilowatt hours per year for electric (no gas is used) at the Gulyas residence is 6,675, which averages to 556.25 kilowatt hours per month.  The cost per year in 2011 was $960.07, averaging to $80.011 per month for all energy heating, cooling & electricity.  The spreadsheet also contains a helpful key which describes the efficiency of the house in terms of kilowatt hour per square foot per year.  Anything less than 5 is considered “super-efficient” and anything above 20 is considered an “energy hog.”  The Gulyas residence uses 4 kilowatt hours per square foot per year, describing it as super-efficient.  Click here for Gulyas’ actual electric bill for the past two years.

In terms of water use, contacted the City of Bloomington Utilities Department to find out the average water use per household in the city.  Each person uses approximately 2,500 gallons of water per month, which equals 2.5 units (1,000 gallons equals 1 unit).  This means that the average 2-person household uses 5 units of water per month, which is substantially higher than the Gulyas residence, which uses approximately 2 water units per month.  Click here to view the Gulyas residence water bill for the past two years.

The Gulyas house is still a work in progress.  Gulyas prioritized energy conservation technologies in the envelope design of the house, and integrated a separate ducted ERV system for exceptional air quality and energy conservation.  He also plans to install a low voltage cable lighting system throughout the open areas of the house, which will have high output 12v LED mr16s.  The new products have a very high color rendition index (CRI) in a variety of color temperatures, making it realistic to create very high quality lighting design while using a fraction of the energy of halogen (8-9 watts per lamp would be used as opposed to 50 watts).  Gulyas would also like to implement rainwater harvesting system, as well as a photovoltaic and/or solar thermal system. 

In summary, the statistics regarding the Gulyas residence are impressive.  He has implemented a variety of energy saving approaches and is looking toward the future to implement additional technologies to create a home that is even more efficient.  Stay tuned to find out what new developments take place as the Gulyas house progresses.

Read more on the project profile here.


Green Homes Price Premium

Green Labels add Value to Homes

More Evidence of Green Value

A recent analysis of homes done by UCLA Berkley researchers found that a green labeled home (LEED for Homes, NAHB Green, Energy Star, etc) had a mearurably higher value than non-green (standard) homes.

Green Homes Price Premium

Researchers from UC Berkeley and UCLA have found that green home labels typically add almost 9% to the value of a California home.

The “Value of Green Labels in the California Housing Market” study found that a typical California home valued at $400,000 sells for an average of 8.7%, or $34,800, more when it has a green certification label.

The study was conducted by researchers with UC Berkeley and UCLA who hoped to answer the question: Does the investment in an energy-efficient home pay off during resale? The short answer is yes.

According to the study, price premiums resulting from green certification were closer to 12% in hotter parts of the state. It also found the premiums were strongly correlated with an area’s environmental ideology as measured by the number of hybrid vehicle registrations — a phenomenon dubbed “the Prius effect” by visiting UC Berkeley professor Nils Kok, who led the study.

Take the next step!
offers full day courses to learn how you can affordably earn third-party certification on your next project:
August 8 in Chicago
September 11 in East Lansing, MI
Oct 24 in Ann Arbor, MI
Oct 24 in Batavia, IL

Just as “people sometimes buy a Toyota Prius not just because of the fact that it’s more efficient but because of environmental virtue,” Kok said, “people might buy a green home because of ideology. In areas where the penetration of hybrid vehicles is higher, we find the premium paid for green homes is higher as well.”

Even though buyers of green homes were likely to save an average of $700 in energy bills annually, “consumers value aspects other than just energy savings alone when purchasing a green home,” said Kok, who cited intangibles such as enhanced indoor air quality and better insulation.

The study estimated that the cost of making a home 35% more efficient was $10,000, “so the benefit of green homes far outweighs the cost,” Kok said.

Green home labels seem to be increasing in value. Kok noted that green-label homes sold in the latter part of the five-year study period “seemed to have gone up relative to the beginning of the sample period.”

What about areas outside California?  Well increasingly as more regional areas add green MLS fields that support identification of green home features, it is becoming easier for real estate appraisers to identify the local impact on market value. Learn more at our Green Real Estate Toolkit.

Reprinted from LA Times Article


Determining Value of Solar Just Got Easier

The additional property value of solar has always been an issue in the industry. Homeowners and professionals both recognize the inherent asset value of solar just as you realize asset value for other home improvements such as a kitchen remodel or bathroom addition.  But quantifying that for real estate appraisers, brokers, and lenders has been an issue – until now.

Consistent appraisals of homes and businesses outfitted with photovoltaic (PV) installations are a real challenge for the nation’s real estate industry, but a new tool developed by Sandia National Laboratories and Solar Power Electric™ and licensed by Sandia addresses that issue. Sandia scientists, in partnership with Jamie Johnson of Solar Power Electric™, have developed PV ValueTM, an electronic form to standardize appraisals. Funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the tool will provide appraisers, real estate agents and mortgage underwriters with more accurate values for PV systems.

“Previous methods for appraising PV installations on new or existing construction have been challenging because they were not using standard appraisal practices,” said Geoff Klise, the Sandia researcher who co-developed the tool. “Typically, appraisers develop the value of a property improvement based on comparable properties with similar improvements as well as prevailing market conditions. If there aren’t PV systems nearby, there is no way to make an improvement comparison. When a PV system is undervalued or not valued at all, it essentially ignores the value of the electricity being produced and the potential savings over the lifetime of the system. By developing a standard methodology for appraisers when comparables are not available, homeowners will have more incentive to install PV systems, even if they consider moving a few years after system installation.”

The tool uses an Excel spreadsheet, tied to real-time lending information and market fluctuations, to determine the worth of a PV system. An appraiser enters such variables as the ZIP code where the system is located, the system size in watts, the derate factor – which takes into account shading and other factors that affect a system’s output – tracking, tilt and azimuth, along with a few other factors, and the spreadsheet returns the value of the system as a function of a pre-determined risk spread. The solar resource calculation in the spreadsheet is based on the PVWattsTM simulator developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which allows the spreadsheet to value a PV system anywhere in the U.S.

“With PV Value™, appraisers can quickly calculate the present value of energy that a PV system can be estimated to produce during its remaining useful lifetime, similar to the appraisal industry’s income approach,” said Johnson. “Additionally, a property owner thinking about installing PV can now estimate the remaining present value of energy for their future PV system and what it could be worth to a purchaser of their property at any point in time in the event a sale of the property takes place before the estimated payback date is reached.”

The tool is being embraced by the Appraisal Institute, which is the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers. “From my perspective as an appraiser, I see that this is a great tool to assist the appraiser in valuations, and it connects to the Appraisal Institute’s recent Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. It’s an easy, user-friendly spreadsheet that will not bog the appraiser down with a lot of extra time in calculations, and if they fill out the addenda properly, they’ll be able to make the inputs and come up with some numbers fairly quickly,” said Sandy Adomatis, SRA, a real estate appraiser and member of the Appraisal Institute.

Although the tool is licensed for solar PV installations, it could be used for other large green features in a home that generate income, such as wind turbines. The spreadsheet, user manual and webinar explaining the tool are available for download at

Solar Power Electric™ located in Port Charlotte, Fla., is an electrical contracting and solar integration company specializing in the installation of commercial and residential photovoltaic systems.

LEED for Homes Design Charrette Grants

Design Charrette Grants for LEED for Homes

Pre-planning is critically important when designing and constructing a green building. encourages projects to use integrated design, bringing key members of the project team together often in the schematic design phase to discuss the project, set goals and accountability, and solve potential problems up front rather than during construction when its often more costly. Thanks to Green Communities, those who are pursuing LEED for Homes and participate in a Design Charrette, may be eligible for up to a $5,000 grant prior to the charrette.

Eligible Applicants

  • Open to 501(c)(3) nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities; and for-profit entities participating through joint ventures with qualified organizations.
  • Please note that applications for joint ventures must identify the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization as the legal entity to receive the grant, if awarded funding.
  • The applicant and the development team must demonstrate their qualifications to successfully carry out the proposed development.
Target Projects

  • Projects must be subject to firm site control or evidence that site control is imminent. Applicant must identify whether proposed project site is an occupied or unoccupied property.
  • Projects must involve new construction of residential units or rehab at an estimated cost of $3,000 or more per unit.
  • Projects applying for pre-development Charrette funds must be in the early stages of planning or schematic design phase of development.

Intended Uses of Funds

Funds may be used to cover the cost of conducting a Green Communities Charrette. Expenses include: pre-qualified consultant fee for facilitation; consultant travel costs, not to exceed $1,000; meeting preparation costs, such as creating invitations, meeting and follow-up materials, venue and program support time all not to exceed a combined total of $800. Food is not an allowable expense.

Please note that consultants selected must adhere to the rate policy established by the federal provider of these dollars.

Grant Amounts

Grantees will be required to provide a match of 3:1 in private dollars. Match must be achieved at the beginning of the grant period of performance. Back up documentation must also be submitted to provide confirmation of these sources.

Grant Application and Approval Process

  • Submit Charrette Grant application. At application stage, applicants must identify the development goals, intended outcomes, and facilitator information. Please consult your Green Rater and/or LEED APH to discuss outcome of Charrette.
  • Receive acknowledgement from Enterprise regarding whether the grant has been approved, denied or approved with conditions. Because funds are limited, Enterprise will reserve the right to negotiate with grant applicants to determine the highest and best use of Green Communities grants in a specific project.
  • Execute a Charrette Grant Agreement with Enterprise.
  • Charrette Grant applications are reviewed once per month. Applicants will be notified within 4-6 weeks after submission.

More details at