Annual Report 2012

The Green Home Institute () is excited to share our past year’s phenomenal successes in providing education on high-performance home and green building principals, practices, tools/resources and 3rd-party verification programs.  Please consider a year-end donation to help our continued success. Here’s  a recap of 2012 activities:

Green Build Accreditation  On site Seminars 

has provided 18 course offerings throughout the Midwest in order to educate participants on basic green building necessities and how to navigate the LEED rating system through the LEED 201: Core Concepts & Strategies class, basics of residential green building and how to utilize the LEED for Homes rating system through HOMES 252: Understanding LEED for Homes and the HOMES 401 course to qualify more Green Raters who can verify LEED for Homes projects. We reached out to nearly 200 participants who are now more prepared to take courses to become accredited LEED Green Associate’s and/or LEED Accredited Professionals with the Homes designation.

See full 4 page report here. 

Online Green Building Education

Working internally and  partnering with GreenExpo 365 ,we educated over 1,000 people on 1-hour continuing education green building web-based seminars. We worked with 10 different experts who are green building professionals on telling stories of their approach to sustainable construction and showing case studies of their success. Some of these web-based seminars include, Introduction to the Living Building Challenge, Introduction to LEED for Homes, Rehabbing to LEED & Green Homes, Green Making Green: Green Remodeling Intro, The US’s oldest Net Zero Remodel success story, Success in Education & Awareness in LEED for Homes , A Journey to LEED & Passive House, Appraising Green Homes and Introduction to LEED for Homes Multifamily Certification.

Local Green Building Courses & Tours 

Collaborated with partners to make these happen.

  • Illinois 
    • Passive House Consultant Training Program, Slotnick Residence LEED Tour, Better Buildings, Better Business Conference Seminars on LEED Platinum foreclosure rehab, Rain water harvesting workshop, Greening real estate adding value to home talk, tour De La Fleur 3 flat gut rehab, Introduction to LEED for Homes & Multi Family program, LEED for Homes Existing Homes talk, Energy Star Version 3 introduction, Building low cost green homes talk, Introduction to green building appraisal practices and principals, and the Lincoln park town home gut rehab tour + many more.
  • Michigan 
    • Habitat for Humanity Green Homes Summit Michigan – Green Home presentations, LEED almost Passive House Homes tour, Energy Star Version 3 introduction, Mission Zero Fest – Certify it talk, LEED VS NGBS VS Green Built MI
  • Wisconsin 
    • Newen House Passive House Zero Energy Bus – Home Tour.
  • We also have delivered training through HUD and the Office of Native American Programs to instruct tribal communities on building greener homes.

Green Home Education Videos

Completed 3 Green Home Videos show casing details of Green, healthy home building verified to be high performance via LEED certification. 1 video has been a 1.5-year project handed down through 3 Grand Valley State interns as a collaborative effort stretching across semesters highlighting one of the greenest homes in West Michigan. Videos are available at our youtube channel.

High Performance HVAC Energy Star Qualified Contractor Trainings 
  •   partnered with Advanced Energy to develop and train a network of qualified HERS raters to further train HVAC contractors throughout the Midwest to learn and meet the requirements of working on Energy Star  ersion 3 Homes.  HVAC contractors will better implement load calculations, duct sizing, and other critical skills needed to certify a high-performance Energy Star home. Finding qualified HVAC contractors has been an impediment to the program, and with this training is helping overcome that hurdle in the Midwest. Please consider a year-end donation to help our continued success.

Living Building Challenge Collaboration 

partnered with the International Living Future Institute to deliver a very successful 6-hour seminar in Chicago on Understanding the Living Building Challenge. We garnered over 40 attendees, 2 – 3 times more than those courses usually attract in Chicago, and educated people on a holistic, approach to triple bottom line building for homes, offices, industry and communities. Based on the workshop’s success, we are planning 3 more in the Midwest for 2013. Please consider a year-end donation to help our continued success.


  • is excited to announce that we won a grant from Bank of America in partnership with Integrated Architecture, Habitat for Humanity Kent County and The City of Grand Rapids to help transform our local neighborhood to a LEED Neighborhood Development. We will receive this $25,000 in Q1 2013 and will be used to develop a plan for 3 pillars of LEED ND certification in the Wealthy Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids Michigan in regards to sustainable sites development which goes along with our Storm Water mitigation issues, location and transportation which means the walkibility and flow of the streets, sidewalks and bus lines and Green Infrastructure which is ensuring healthy, affordable, efficient and durable construction and remodeling practices in the neighborhood.

LEED Certifications & Registrations

  • In 2012 registered over 1200 units spanning across 70 different
    projects, essentially on par with 2011 numbers. LEED registration shows that a project team has thought through high performance and sustainable practices prior to construction the house. makes every effort to ensure the teams are given the tools and resources to complete the projects and earn LEED certification, working on over 5000 units encompassing over 1500 separate projects as of 2012.
  • We value 3rd party verification and certification as a benchmark to show that a project has actually had the oversight and performance testing done to ensure performance, durability, efficiency and health issues are taken care of for the life of the building. LEED certification is also a tool for education as it shows real projects that meet a national definition of green, is above standard building practices, and teaches builders, designers, homeowners and the community involved in the projects about sustainable home construction. has been an original LEED provider since 2005.

    Green Homes Price Premium

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

Case Studies on LEED Affordable Housing

  • Partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) on a $10,000 grant given to the University to survey homeowners of the qualitative features of their LEED certified homes throughout the Midwest . Thanks to MSU we have reached over 200 homeowner/renters LEED certified housing and learned more about the health and energy effects of their homes and habits within them. (Read the LEED post-occupancy research report here)

Strategic Planning

  • has been focused mainly on LEED for Homes programming since 2007, but beginning in 2012, we have been expanding our programming to other areas including,
    • educating local community members through a hands-on demonstration center and training,
    • developing an online demonstration center to help consumers make the best choices when building or remodeling in a sustainable manner,
    • developing and delivering a 3rd party remodeling certification program for homeowners and remodelers who want to learn how to remodeling in a healthy, efficient and durable manner and verify it was done correctly.
    • Helping lead the charge on the Greening of the MLS in our headquarters city of Grand Rapids so that we can properly assess and value green homes.

We are thankful to Andrea Poma, our board treasurer, for leading the charge on Strategic planning this year, working with volunteers and interns to broaden our reach to programs that meet our mission.

Staffing Changes

  • Brett Little, LEED, BS: Sustainable Business has been with the Green Home Institute since August 2008, starting as a volunteer  and working his way up past Americore Vista program, part time employee and then interim Executive Director after Calvin Delano left.  Brett has been recently married and bought an 80-year old house in Grand Rapids and began a moderate green rehab on the house, reducing energy use by 50%. As of December 3rd, Brett has been promoted to fulfill the official Executive Director role. Brett is excited to begin launching new programs to help with unique education in Green Building.
  • We are thankful for a $13,200 grant from the Home Inspector General  to bring on Jamison Lenz, LEED GA,  BS Sustainable Business  as the  LEED for Homes program manager. He began working full time as of November first after serving one of our biggest partners, Habitat for Humanity Kent County as an Americorps Member tasked with LEED for Homes certification oversight & Weatherization of existing homes. Jamison has long been a sustainability advocate, being one of the first graduates of Aquinas College’s first of it’s kind Sustainable Business program.

Rater Network

Become LEED for Homes Green Rater has maintained and expanded a network of 40 + Energy/Green Raters throughout the Midwest in 8 states to help deliver 3rd party onsite verification to Green Home projects and help educate project teams on the necessary measures taken to achieve high performance homes.


Intern Highlights

  Abigail Koprowicz, A sustainable business student & world traveler from

first assignment was to be a LEED Home Video Host  which had her immediately re stating details of LEED & Green Building that she learned on the spot. Other activities are work with Chuck Otto, a media consultant on helping tailor their green home education news to conventional media. After graduation, Abigail plans to attend graduate school and study environmental anthropology.

Grand Valley State University has provided with some of the best video/production interns. They have helped us follow a full house from start to finish and passed the project on without delay though 3 different interns. Thank you to Andrea, Lauren & Alex. The project will be released soon on our You Tube Channel

has worked with 10 interns from various institutions including:

  • Aquinas, GVSU and Davenport
    • Sustainable Business, Film, Business Administration
    • Combined effort of over 120 HoursWorked on Case Studies, Strategic Planning, Board Participation, Green Home Videos, Green Home Research, News Articles, Project Team Interviews and participated free of charge in education courses
Lansing Passive House Alliance 
Helped kick off the Lansing Michigan Passive House Alliance in collaboration with several others around the state to provide information and education of building super air tight, low energy and passively heated and cooled homes & buildings. Continued our work with the Chicago Alliance as well. Learn more.

Support in 2013
As a 501(c)3 charitable organization (view our details), we deliver green building education courses throughout the Midwest at minimal cost and no profit. Please support us to help keep these going. Your donation to the Green Home Institute may be tax-deductible. Please check with your accountant or tax attorney for details.

Thank you for your support!

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.

Green Building Winter Trainings throughout the Midwest

As part of the Alliance’s mission to educate the builders, architects, developers and the public at larger on the latest in Green Building, we are offering several courses around the Midwest and online this year.  Studying for your Green Associates? LEED AP Home?




Date/Time* Event Title / Location CEUs
Tue, Feb 12, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
An Introduction to the Living Building Challenge – Lunch Time Webinar – Free

Thu, Feb 14, 2013
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Subslab ventilation systems for moisture control

Tue, Feb 19, 2013
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
HOMES 401: Green Rater Training
Priority Energy – Training Center
Park Ridge IL
Wed, Feb 27, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
A Homeowner’s Tale, Passive House & LEED Home Case Study – Free Webinar 

1 GBCI / 1 AIA
Thu, Feb 28, 2013
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Implementation of successful daylighting control systems

Wed, Mar 6, 2013
7:00 AM – 3:45 PM
Better Buildings: Better Business Conference
Kalahari Conference Center
Wisconsin Dells, WI 
Wed, Mar 6, 2013
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Living Building Seminar Pre Conference Networking Event
Ann Arbor 
Thu, Mar 7, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Guardian Club Banquet Hall
Detroit Michigan 
Mon, Mar 11, 2013
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
LEED GA: Core Concepts & Strategies – Naperville
Electric Association
Naperville IL
Wed, Mar 13, 2013
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
HOMES 252: Understanding LEED for Homes – Wilmette
Wilmette, IL 
Tue, Mar 19, 2013
12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
eQUEST energy modeling series
NIU Outreach Center at Naperville
Naperville IL
Tue, Apr 9, 2013
12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
eQUEST energy modeling series
Radisson Paper Valley Hotel
Appleton Wisconsin
Wed, Apr 10, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC)
Madison Wisconsin
Wed, Apr 17, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC)
Madison Wisconsin

*All times are US Eastern time (EST)

Group rates available on workshops! Contact for details.
All programs approved for AIA and GBCI credit. Other CEU programs may also apply.


As a 501(c)3 charitable organization (view our details), we deliver green building education courses through out the Midwest usually at cost. Please support us to help keep these going. Your donation to the Green Home Institute may be tax-deductible. Please check with your accountant or tax attorney for details.

Thank you for your support!


Habitat Volunteers Gain Green & LEED Experience

      GRAND RAPIDS, MI With all the interest in “green jobs” training from colleges and universities you might be surprised to learn that a cohort of emerging green design and construction professionals are being trained all over the US on Habitat Projects. AT 426 Adams SE in the City of Grand Rapids. 426 Adams SE is a construction site for a new home being built via Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. The reason the cohort is there is Habitat Kent’s commitment to building 100% Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified homes. Since 2007 that commitment has led to 100 LEED projects.

LEED certification starts on projects as small as a single-family residential home, all the way up to an awe-inspiring skyscraper or sports stadium. And with more municipalities requiring LEED and an increase of consumer demand for green, LEED Professional Accreditation is an essential credential for today’s building industry professional. However, the road to LEED Professional Accreditation is not easy – as extensive LEED project experience is now a prerequisite for professionals to qualify for the LEED exams. This requirement creates a near-impossible barrier for recent graduates, unemployed, and those changing careers: how does one gain LEED experience, if LEED experience is required for employment?

But Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has a solution: an entry-level, hands-on LEED project experience program called EverbuildPRO.

This program is possible through Habitat’s partnership with BOULD, a Colorado-based social enterprise that grew out of the Boulder, CO Habitat affiliate, who sought to help LEED-seeking professionals and students gain green experience through Habitat home construction.

EverbuildPRO creator, Shane Gring, started as a Habitat volunteer with the Boulder Habitat and quickly identified the need — and his solution. The first affiliate he reached out to for beta testing was Kent County. Says Gring, “In the green building world Grand Rapids’ Habitat affiliate is well known as a leader. Being a native-Michigander I’m well aware of West Michigan’s commitment to sustainability. Could there be a better place to start?”

EverbuildPRO is a hands-on experiential education program – that provides professionals and students with the hand-on, real world experiences necessary to launch green careers. The program consists of 50 hours of experience on a 4-month building project – where participants will get access to: participation in design and planning meetings, tackling of green research and documentation, witnessing performance inspections, and even rolling-up their sleeves and building on-site! Upon program completion, participants will graduate with multifaceted green experience, a LEED-certified building to add to their resume, and qualification for LEED Accreditation, the world’s most recognized sustainability credential.

“Having a passion for sustainable building brought me to Habitat”, stated Jamison Lenz, a Habitat volunteer pursuing his LEED AP+Homes accreditation. “After attaining a degree in Sustainable Business from Aquinas I wanted to find an experience with high performance building. Volunteering with Habitat gives me that hands-on LEED opportunity you just can’t access anywhere else.”

“This program is really helpful. We love our dedicated volunteers who work alongside our home buyer partners. Now being able to integrate some of them even more into the life of our projects is exciting” believes Christopher Hall, Habitat Director of Strategic Initiatives. “I hope they all take their test, pass it with flying colors and then go on to help improve the built environment. But even if they don’t pursue LEED AP any further, we still end up with a new home ownership opportunity for a hard-working, qualified family who needed a hand up. That alone is pretty cool.”

Interested individuals can find registration information for the upcoming project at under “LEED AP Project Experience”.  Anyone can Habitat or Individual can participate in their local area across the country too.




Christopher J. Hall

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County


About Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

The nonprofit Christian housing organization Habitat for Humanity of Kent County seeks to serve God, build hope and transform lives through neighborhood revitalization and homeownership for families who otherwise could not afford a home of their own. Since 1983, Habitat Kent has served more than 320 families by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more information, to donate, volunteer, or purchase a home, please visit, or follow us or at

Moving Beyond Energy Efficiency to Sustainability – Guest Post

Post by: Michelle Krueger

For more than a decade, the green-building movement has been gaining momentum based on one simple fact – when you reduce the consumption of energy in your home, you save money.

In tracking the trends that are driving the growth of green building, McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2011 Green Outlook reports 70% of buyers would prefer to purchase a green home over a conventional one. The top 3 reasons cited include reduced operating costs, increased value and a greater return on investment.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which certifies residential building projects that meet the criteria of The National Green Building Standard, green homes comprised 17% of the overall residential construction market in 2011 and are expected to grow to between 29% and 38% of the market by 2016.

“The building science has been around for a while, and now we have programs and labels from organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to quantify it,” Jerry Thatcher of Valparaiso’s Energy Diagnostics (LEED Green Rater), a leader in the energy rating industry since 1992, said. “We work with builders primarily in the tri-state area (Indiana,IllinoisandMichigan). The most common certification we do is the residential Green Building Standard through NAHB. We also certify homes through the ENERGY STAR® program, RESNET and LEED for Homes.”

A joint program of the EPA and DOE started in 1992, ENERGY STAR promotes energy efficient products and practices that help save money and protect the environment. In addition to new homes, the blue ENERGY STAR label appears on over 60 product categories. In 2011, ENERGY STAR saved consumers more than $23 billion on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions from 41 million vehicles.

Created by RESNET, The HERS Index provides a standard for measuring energy efficiency that’s essentially the home building industry’s version of the MPG (miles per gallon) sticker used by the automobile industry. The major difference is that a lower HERS rating means a home is more efficient.

LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000 as a voluntary and technically rigorous process that demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

“So far we are on track to meet our target of rating 3,500 units this year,” Thatcher said. “LEED is still our least used label mostly because people are so concerned about the execution since it was originally created for commercial building. However, I am confident in saying that we will soon have our first LEED Platinum Certification in the area soon. We’ve seen maybe 8-10 similarly labeled units in and around Chicago.”

Located along the shores of Indiana’s second largest lake in Culver, this newly constructed home on Lake Maxinkuckee has been a labor of love for the owner, while builder Dean Jones, vice president of Mirar Development, Inc. in Crown Point found it to be a unique and valuable learning experience.

For starters, he agrees with the US Green Building Council when they state that the LEED green home rating system is rigorous.

“For this particular home buyer, LEED was a priority from day one,” Jones explained. “He had been studying the guidelines and was well versed in the program. He wanted to do it because he is concerned about the environment, about not negatively impacting the lake and its immediate surroundings, and because he believed so strongly in the basic premise of the program that he was willing to financially commit to it. His project was initially certified Gold, but throughout the process he continued to strive for a Platinum level of certification.”

“LEED is the whole package,” Thatcher said. “It goes beyond energy efficiency and focuses on the entire home, the carbon footprint and its impact on the environment.”

Encompassing energy, water, indoor air quality, materials, land and education, LEED requires multiple inspections during construction to ensure that a certified home will exceed any local code requirements by at least 15% in energy performance, along with a number of additional guidelines from water efficiency measures to proper ventilation and how the landscape features are designed.

“You earn points by doing certain things, and you want to avoid losing points wherever possible,” Jones said. “Any LEED home is a green, high-performance home. Higher-scoring homes within the LEED rating system earn higher certification levels. The biggest challenges for us were more in the upfront planning and putting ourselves in the mindset of assuring that we were doing everything we could to carry out the program and earn the points we were striving for. LEED ensures that construction waste is minimized and that environmentally-friendly products and construction techniques are utilized where possible. The point system also takes into account where your products were manufactured and how they got to the job site. Sometimes it was a challenge to find what we needed within 500 miles.”

“This home’s HERS rating is 38 points (a standard new home scores 100 while a typical resale home scores 130 on the HERS Index), and thanks to all of the energy efficient and green features it will save the owner an estimated $4,321 a year on utility bills while reducing carbon dioxide the equivalent of removing 7 cars off the road permanently.” Thatcher said. “Based on everything I’ve seen throughout construction, even before the landscape is complete, I am confident this home will qualify for LEED Platinum certification.”

As of June 19 more than 5,200 US homes have been LEED-certified this year. That makes a total of 21,380 since the residential program was introduced in 2008. In just over 14 years, the number of ENERGY STAR-certified homes reached a million, from October 1995 to November 2009, and the program continues to grow, challenging builders to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

Watch for more LEED homes in your area as buyers realize the process is within their reach, and as leading builders who have historically incorporated high-quality construction practices demonstrate they are attainable, flexible and affordable.

To submit real estate news, community connections and special event/model information e-mail

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.

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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


2012 IECC

2012 IECC Energy Code vs Green Home Certifications

2012 IECCMany states are in the process of adopting in whole or with modifications the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  This new code raises the bar in construction design for residential and commercial structures, and as a result, architects / engineers / contractors building to the new code will be affordably offer a choice to their clients for pursuing several above-code certifications such as Energy Star and LEED without too much additional effort or cost.

The new national energy code includes mandatory blower-door testing for building air leakage (less than <3.0 ACH at 50 pascals), which will measure how well contractors have sealed up penetrations between the outdoors and indoor conditioned space. This testing will be required for all projects permitted after the new code goes into effect. Some states have made modifications to the adopted code, such as Illinois which has changed the ACH rate to 5.0 ACH @ 50.  View our archived July 12 webinar to learn more about IL Energy Code changes.

Other aspects of the 2012 IECC such as requiring hot water pipe insulation and mechanical ventilation are new items that projects will need to implement.  Learn more on a free webinar held Thursday July 12.

So, how do national IECC 2012 requirements relate to voluntary above-code programs like Energy Star, LEED and Passive House?  Pretty well actually. has assembled a matrix identifying several energy-related items as written in the code and indicated what the impact or requirements would be in one of these above-code third-party green certification programs. Download national comparison matrix as PDF.
(Illinois-specific modifications are shown in the image below)

What does this mean?  Well just by building to the new code, these projects will be very close to meeting the Energy Star for Homes program requirements, and will score very well in programs that require Energy Star version 3 such as LEED or Green Communities. Other green programs that don’t require Energy Star, such as National Green Building Standard or local green home programs will also heavily reward these projects.

LEED for Homes will be requiring Energy Star version 3 beginning at the end of the year, so right now a project can still earn LEED certification by building to Energy Star version 2 requirements which should be easily met on any home that meets IECC 2012.

Take advantage of this sweet spot and earn market recognition by attending a LEED workshop or sign up to earn LEED certification today!

Smartphones Dial Up Energy-Efficiency Opportunities

Already an indispensable aspect of many people’s lives, smartphones now hold the promise of helping to cut in-home energy consumption and costs. Consumers are well aware that mobile technology allows them to pay bills online, watch movies, check in at the airport and, of course, play “Angry Birds.” So why not also use a smartphone to remotely control appliances and adjust the thermostat at home? Used in conjunction with an eco-friendly home, mobile devices can go a long way toward residential energy efficiency.

Mobile trends indicate a turn toward green sustainability. For example, the national Green Button program is a public-private partnership that aims to give electricity customers direct access to usage data from their utility companies. The partners say the program allows consumers to better monitor their green efforts and encourages entrepreneurs to develop innovative eco-friendly technology.
To further the Green Button initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded cash prizes in May and June 2012 as part of its Apps for Energycompetition. The contest recognizes software developers who create apps to help consumers make use of Green Button data. The grand prize for Best Overall Application went to Leafully, which seeks to educate consumers on the economic and environmental impact of their energy usage.

There are a growing number of eco-related apps and other mobile products available for consumers seeking to shrink their carbon footprint.

 Smart Thermostats: Today’s thermostats aren’t just programmable, they are also teachable. By detecting motion, they can adapt to a household’s comings and goings while gathering data such as humidity and ambient light levels to find the most energy-efficient way to keep a house at its optimal temperature. Nest and ecobee are among the smart thermostat makers that offer apps for controlling home temperatures remotely.
 Controlling Appliances: General Electric’s Nucleus energy manager works in conjunction with a smart meter to provide homeowners with information on electricity consumption and costs. With the Control4 home control system, users can remotely synchronize control of appliances and other electronic devices, from window shades to a coffeemaker and a sound system.

 Empowering Power Strips: Homeowners have numerous options for managing energy use through smart power strips. Products such as the UFO Power Center and the EnergyHub strip allow homeowners to track the energy use of appliances and program and control them remotely, including via smartphones and other mobile devices.

 Energy Efficient Lighting: Even in the most energy-efficient of homes, light bulbs will burn out. Light Bulb Finder allows customers to locate the right bulb to match their preferences and light fixtures. The app also will place orders with the cheapest vendor and calculate how long it will take for the bulb to pay for itself in electricity savings.

 Social Energy App: Facebook and the Natural Resources Defense Council have teamed with Opower to offer an app that allows users to compare their energy usage against that of similar homes and that of their friends. They also can share tips for cutting costs and compete to achieve energy-saving goals.

  • Also imagine a Green Home Remodeling app that allows you to check off measures to green your home beyond energy efficiency, gain points, compete with your friends and certify under a Green Rating system.  Contact for more details (

Whether consumers are motivated to “go green” by money, conscience or peer pressure – or some combination of those factors – smartphones can work in tandem with sustainable home designs to help them conserve energy and cut costs.

This guest post was provided by Dean Vella who writes about supply chain management and sustainability training for University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education Inc.

A Green Future in the past – Habitat Registers 100th LEED Home in Grand Rapids

After dozens of new and gut-rehab LEED projects, the Grand Rapids, Michigan Habitat for Humanity affiliate is ready to begin a new era. That happens to be a really old era too.  

With LEED for Homes-registered project #100, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County will start work on their ambitious “Wealthy Heights” neighborhood effort to rebuild homes built in the 1880’s as affordable, workforce housing. After building one new LEED platinum home (Grand Rapid’s 1st!) and preserving a single-family home and a two-unit in Wealthy Heights over the last couple years, Habitat is ready to start seven more projects this fall. It will also coincide with major road and infrastructure improvements by the City of Grand Rapids. Neighbors in Wealthy Heights get ready for construction season!

The neighbors and business owners who have led the revitalization effort in this neighborhood over the last three decades made it possible for Habitat to step into the mix. Being historic has been a challenge and a blessing but now become a really desirable location for our home buyer partner families,” said Habitat’s Chris Hall.

As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Hall has been part of this project since 2009 when it was first brought to Habitat. With a history of results, Habitat Kent was in the right place at the right time. “It all happened as we were starting to look at ways to become more effective in transforming entire neighborhoods through our work.”

Since then, Habitat has completed the three home projects but also built a community garden and hosted an AmeriCorps Signature Service Project which offered basic exterior repairs, landscaping and a fresh coat of paint for home owners on Donald Place SE.

“We’ve seen residents show up at hearings in support, out working on site, and they have embraced our new families as part of the neighborhood. For-profit builders are doing work in the neighborhood too. This week I heard from folks as far away as New York City regarding a possible LEED-ND certification. Considering we haven’t even begun the major work yet you’d have to say it’s already been an amazing success story.”

After committing to 100% LEED for Homes certification in 2007, Habitat Kent has gone one to become recognized internationally as a leader in affordable, sustainable design and construction. In fact, they were awarded for “Outstanding Program Commitment” to LEED for Homes at the 2011 Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Toronto.

While the positive energy surrounding this project is building, Hall says there is still opportunity for you to help, “We are always looking for partners—either through financial contributions, donations of materials or professional services, as volunteers on site and even as home buyers.” Anyone can visit to find out more. “Someone can even gain LEED project experience to use toward a LEED AP credential through Habitat! Anyone interested sustainable design will find something cool about this project.”

Future posts will feature a profile of the 100th registered home at 327 Freyling Place SE as well as the other upcoming and completed projects.

Research is being done by MSU and FSU students and faculty with support from Dow and Habitat. They begin with the lowest cost and simplest forms of energy efficiency including cans of spray foam at joints and in gaps, spray foam in rim joists, and other air sealing measures. From there they will test other wall insulation and mechanical system combinations. At each step the homes are tested and analyzed.

Habitat Director of Strategic Initiatives Chris Hall enjoys seeing young people included in the project, “The Michigan State and Ferris State students have really been on the frontline the whole way and they’re getting their hands dirty—in a good way. What they’re learning will directly be applied to what they do in their careers in architecture, engineering, construction management or beyond. And that their work on these homes specifically will benefit a low-income family is especially cool.”

More details on the research project

 Want to learn more about affordable Green/LEED major rehabs to existing homes? Free recorded webinar on Habitat’s success here  Need CEUs for watching this? Email us