Mission Zero Home: A Greenstar Gold Remodel & CE Webinar

While sitting in his living room, spending the day documenting his home to verify all the measures and requirements for GreenStar, I showed Matt Grocoff the GreenStar checklist tool and manual to give him an idea of what was needed for his project. After looking through it, his immediate response was, “I Certificatewish I would have known about this when I started.”

Back in 2010, Matt began a journey. He purchased a 110 year old home in Ann Arbor, MI that has led him on the international road promoting net-positive homes and buildings. When he bought the home, he reviewed the LEED for Homes program but decided against it. He found it to be too invasive for what he wanted and could afford to do to his existing home. Matt, in partnership with Meadowlark, was a pioneer in the world of Green Home deep energy retrofits in the Midwest and has helped influence what can and should be done to bring an existing home to net zero energy.
Despite lacking a good tool (like LEED or GreenStar), Matt and his family persisted on with the renovation. First they underwent a home energy assessment utilizing the HERS index. The results were off the charts – far above 100. “From there we needed to work backwards. Using the PV watts calculator, we determined we could get roughly 9,000 kwh of solar given size of our roof and available technology. For 9,000 kwh to be sufficient, we realized we needed to improve the home’s HVAC, insulation, air sealing, appliances, lighting and other areas to get us down to that level without sacrificing comfort or a normal lifestyle,” Matt explained. Through the detailed but simple measures listed below, Matt’s home is a proven Net Zero home – even while driving a Chevy Volt and charging it at home! They plan to add a little more PV so that they can update their vehicle to a Tesla and still remain net zero.

America's Oldest Net Zero House color corrected v.2One thing that I learned while sitting down with Matt and discussing the push back to an all-electric home is the claim that it’s a waste because of electric line loss of up to 10% energy. Most utilities and even the HERS score incentivize the use of Natural Gas. Matt enlightened me to a partnership between Google and the Natural Resource Defense Council that is utilizing Google vehicles to show major natural gas leaks in gas lines all over the country. These leaks are not accounted for in line loss of energy, while electric is.

Beyond energy, Matt and his family were inspired by the Living Building Challenge (which they are pursuing) and are now, in partnership with U of M Blue Lab Engineering and a Ford Foundation Grant, exploring Net Zero water. The goal is to be able to design a system that captures 100% of rainwater off the roof, stores the water, and cleans it to potable and non-potable standards. The final step would be attaining approval by the municipality to install the system. One interesting challenge the Grocoffs must overcome is that their asphalt shingle roof has been proven to contaminate runoff water toxins such as lead. These toxins are very expensive to remove. However, the cost to seal the existing shingles or replace the shingles may prove cheaper in the long run than maintaining a clogged water filtration system. Another element that Matt and his family are working on is to prevent 100% of the home’s storm water from getting into the city sewer. This could be done partly by capturing water from the roof, partly by adding rain gardens. The most unique idea is a partnership with the city that would replace the sidewalks in front of the house with a system that will direct rainwater from the sidewalk to his rain gardens. If it works, replacing sidewalks this way could model in Ann Arbor and in other cities around the country how to reduce the expense and pollution caused by run off and storm water.

Why water?

Even though we live near the Great Lakes and have access to more water than we need, it’s no secret that quality and quantity of water is diminishing. “While all the news media was going on about California this year, much of Michigan was experiencing a major drought and lack of underwater aquifers. It’s important that we have deeper conversations about water in our state and how to protect it through simple things we can to do our buildings,” says Matt.

Because of Matt’s diligence during the renovation process, his home was easily back certified to GreenStar standards. He blew the gold standard “out of the water.” explained Brett Little. We also are grateful to work with him to develop recommendations for existing homeowners using the GreenStar tool to achieve our new zero energy certification. We are very excited to award Matt and the Mission Zero Home with the GreenStar Gold Type 1 Remodel Certification and to induct him before anyone else into our Zero Hero Hall of Fame. We will be monitoring Matt’s house and following his case study as he supplies us with Return on Investment, future energy use, water use, indoor air quality testing data, and other interesting aspects as he continues to do more to his home.

Net Zero VerificationLearn more

Free Webinar worth 1 hour of continuing education – GBCI, AIA (HSW), NARI Green & LFA and review utility data. More here.

Ingredients Label Mission Zero

 

 

 

 

 

Project Details

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2

Living Space: 1300 sq. ft.

2,600 sq. ft. of conditioned space

General Contractor: Matt Grocoff, Thrive Net Zero Consulting

Whole-House Performance Contractor: Meadowlark Energy

Greenstar checklist submittal with full details on the home.

Website: Happy Home How! http://www.happyhome.how/

 

Energy

Attic Insulation/Air Sealing: R-30Demilec Sealection 500

Wall Insulation: R-13 Farmers dense-packed cellulose insulation

Rim Band Joist: Air sealed and insulated

Windows: Trapp low-e storms

Air Tightness: 4.75 ach50

Alternative Energy: SunPower 8.1 kW photovoltaic system

Heating/Cooling: 3-ton Water Furnace Envision

Window Restoration: Wood Window Repair Company

Lighting Controls: Watt stopper motion sensor light switches

Power Strips: Smart Strip Power Strips

Window Treatments: EcoSmart Insulated cellular shades

Water Heater: Geothermal + Air Heat pump

Dryer: Heat pump technology

Appliances: Induction Cooktop

HERS Index: 37

Residential Energy Performance Score: 61 (rated at 9,000 kwh/year)

 

Water Conservation

Toilets: Caroma Dual-Flush

Showerheads: Bricor 1 GPM (HET)

Faucets: Bricor .38 GPM!

Irrigation: Rain barrels (salvaged from St. Jullian’s Winery)

No Garbage Disposal

 

Health

Whole-House Ventilation: Ultimate Air ERV

Furnace Filter: MERV 8

Paints: Zero VOC – Benjamin Moore Aura, AFM Safecoat, Sherwin Williams Harmony

Floor Finish: Bioshield Hard oil #9

Molding Finish: Hock natural shellac

Bedding: NaturePedic mattress

Flooring: Mostly wood through out

Knob & Tube Wiring Removed

 

Materials

Salvaged Doors: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Picture Frames: Urban Ashes

Salvaged Wood Stock: Urban Wood

Outbuilding: Chicken coop salvaged from neighbor’s playhouse

Carpet: Wool stair runners from G & K Flooring

Retained Existing home through minor remodel!

Perimeter plantings kept up to 24 inches away from the home.

Milwork, countertops, cabinets, trim, floors, and windows all refurbished and reused.

 

Site & Community

Conventional turf grass reduced

Home recycling and compost center

Walk Score – 70 +

Public transportation and biking is good

65% of undeveloped site is permeable

40% native / drought tolerant plantings

Rain gardens to stop storm water run off

*Some of this list was borrowed from Matt’s house being featured on Green Building Advisor.

Watch the on-demand webinar

Continuing Education – 1 CEU

  • GBCI
  • AIA (HSW)
  • Living Future (LFA)
  • NARI Green
  • Local & State Architect & Contractor (MI approved) 120422_LFA Logo

1.Watch the recording here

2.Access ppt slide handout

3. Take quiz below

4. Pay fee

Eco House 2009: New Home Gold

Eco House 2009

Minnesota State Fair – Built to MN GreenStar Standards

For the third year in a row SALA Architects was honored to design the ECO House for the Minnesota State Fair’s Eco Experience. The General Contractor the did the work was Showcase Renovations, Inc. The 2009 ECO House is an innovative design solution using sustainable principles for domestic needs. This house’s focus is Net Zero, which we’ve defined as “using only as much energy as it produces on site.” The house features a south facing working facade that incorporates photovoltaic and solar hot water panels into the architecture. Not only does this working facade aide in the production of energy, it is designed to also serve the many other needs of the house such as; summer shading, winter passive solar heating, water collection, and operable thermal blanketing. Our goal is to design a house that not only responds to the demands of today, but also to the future needs of our planet.

By SALA Architects

For more information on this project visit www.salaarc.com.

Wilcon Construction, Inc. – Project 3: New Home Bronze

New Home Bronze

Wilcon Construction

A trifecta of SIPS panels, solar panels and a geothermal system were the heavy-hitters used to achieve a HERS (Home Efficiency Rating System) score of 29 in this new home located in south-central Minnesota. This means that this house is projected to consume 71% less energy than a house built to just meet the 2006 IECC and 41% less energy than a typical MN code home. Actual results have exceeded expectations, and the homeowners are very pleased.

Site impact was an especially important consideration during the building process. The home is located near a lake, one of Minnesota’s most valuable natural resources. The orientation of the home takes full advantage of beautiful views and the benefits of natural daylight.

The Rivers’ home also won a building-excellence-award from SIPA (Structural Insulated Panel Association) based on the following features:

  • 6-inch SIP walls, 10-inch SIP roof
  • Geothermal heating system
  • In-floor radiant heating
  • ENERGY STAR lighting and appliances
  • Onsite solar generation
  • Recycling program implemented during construction
  • All low VOC paints, sealants and finishes

For more information on this project visit wilcon-construction.net.

The Landschute Group: New Home Gold

Landschute Group, LLC

This MN GreenStar (Gold), Minnesota Green Path (Master certification), LEED for Homes (Platinum certification) home designed and built by The Landschute Group embodies all that Don and Barbara Shelby have looked for in their dream home: Barbara’s love of warm, cozy, cottage architecture mixed with Don’s passion for sustainability and cutting-edge construction. For more than thirty years, Landschute has built homes that infuse new construction technology with a warm, rich architecture – but never to this level. In fact, at the time, no other home in the country had earned this triple certification. Landschute was able to effectively respond to key sustainability issues such as water management, insulation, energy reduction, material reuse, and indoor air quality.

With over 165 attributes contributing to make this a sustainable home, there are too many to list here. Some of the project highlights are listed below.

  • Many materials were reused such as wood from the building previously on the site, reclaimed Douglas Fir flooring, recycled roofing (90% recycled plastics and tires), and reclaimed doors and hardware.
  • A water management system includes a 3,000 rainwater collection cistern to irrigate plant beds (made of native, drought-tolerant species), a permeable paver driveway and walkway (providing an additional 3,500 gallons of water storage), and an interior graywater system.
  • Natural temperature control includes using triple-pane windows, spray foam insulation to achieve higher R-values, LED lighting options, ground-source heat pumps, and a 5.5 kW solar array.
  • To improve indoor air quality, materials contained no added urea-formaldehyde (UF) and VOCs were kept to a minimum by using No-VOC finishes. For example, the floor was finished with vegetable oil based floor finish that is a No-VOC product.
Landschute Group, LLC

Landschute Group, LLCLandschute Group, LLC

For more information, please visit http://www.landschute.com.

Benoz Homes: New Home Bronze

Benoz Homes

Working with architect Phil Rader and builder Benjamin Akhigbe, the owners had several clear objectives for their new house in an established South Minneapolis neighborhood.   The house needed to be accessible to people of varying physical abilities and be a house in which the present or any future owners could “age in place” if they so desired.  Examples of universal design features in the house are a landscaping plan that provides an attractive stepless route into the house and from the house to the garage, wide interior doorways and corridors, and a main floor bedroom with a generous bathroom that includes a curbless, doorless shower.   Closets are aligned to have the option of installing a personal elevator serving the basement, main floor and second floor if that need should ever arise.

It was important for the scale of the house to fit as much as possible in with the built-up neighborhood, and so it has a one-and-a-half story presentation like most of the other homes nearby.   Through various structural choices, such as using TJI joists rather than wide open trusses, the house’s overall height was kept to a minimum while still allowing nine-foot ceilings and ample room for two bedrooms and baths on the second floor.  With a wide mix of architectural styles in the immediate neighborhood, the owners felt the freedom to draw on their Asian and Scandinavian heritages to result in a design that might be described as craftsman-influenced with clean lines, wide overhangs, generous square-jointed trim, and an open floor plan.  Thanks to placing windows in sets of two or three in most rooms along with keeping the garage slightly detached, interior rooms receive abundant light and ventilation, with views of the streetscape and the nearby community garden.

In order to avoid maintenance of gutters, roof runoff is channeled via the four roof valleys into ground level catchment beds where heavy flows are directed through below-grade piping away from the house and to a rain garden.  Plantings are primarily native plants, shrubs, and trees.  A minimal amount of turf remains from erosion control during construction, and it is being replaced with slow-grown fescue mix and with non-turf groundcover.   A front porch was important to the owners, and to enable a sloping roof that does not interfere with second story windows, a curved design is used, with traditional beadboard porch ceilings.  The roof design is repeated on a smaller scale above the back and garage doors.

With a generous amount of maple trim on the interior, a challenge was use of low VOC finishes which were more difficult to work with than traditional finishes.  Kitchen countertops include granite from a quarry near Isabella, Minnesota, and a commercial butcher block which one of the owners personally salvaged from a restaurant demolished to make way for the K-Mart centered “urban renewal” at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue in South Minneapolis.  Toilets are dual flush, the water heater is sealed combustion, and other features such as a mechanical air exchanger and generous insulation help to keep energy costs at a minimum.

While a lot of design attention went into the “green” and “universal design” features of the house, most visitors are oblivious to those features, simply enjoying the house for its comfort and attractive design.
For more information on this project call 612-508-7927.

Wilcon Construction, Inc. – Project 2: New Home Bronze

Mankato, Minnesota

This multi-level home qualified as the first Minnesota Green Star home in the Mankato area. Residents of the home enjoy a lovely view of a large retention pond in the Sakatah Fields subdivision in Mankato. The home has the following eco-friendly features:

1) Energy Star windows, doors, furnace, appliances and air-conditioning.

2) Low-flow faucets, toilets and showers.

3) Eco-friendly grass is drought resistant and requires 50% less mowing.

4) Over half of the floors are hard surface contributing to improved indoor air quality.

5) South facing windows provide ample natural daylight and reduced winter heating costs.

This home demonstrates energy efficient, eco-friendly homes can still have excellent curb appeal and spacious family living space.

By Wilcon Construction

 

Wilcon Construction, Inc. – Project 1: New Home Bronze

Wilcon Construction Inc.

The first GreenStar certified home built by Wilcon Construction, Inc.

Saint James, Minnesota

This MN GreenStar BRONZE certified home was designed to be energy efficient and provide open light-filled spaces and healthy indoor air to the residents. The design features locally manufactured Lindsay windows that allow natural day lighting and passive solar heat gain during the winter. When the sun is high overhead during the summer, overhangs provide shading to minimize solar gain. The home features geo-thermal heating and cooling, Water Sense certified plumbing fixtures and Energy Star appliances.

Efforts were made to use local and sustainable building materials including concrete mixed with fly ash, and Kasota limestone from a nearby quarry. Recycling and reduction of construction waste and reusing construction scraps was an important part of the building process. Interior finish selections made from recycled products include Shaw Epic engineered wood floors and Shetkastone countertops (manufactured from old paper in LeSueur, Minnesota) in the master bath. Other products which contribute healthy indoor air quality include Marmoleum flooring and countertops, Cambria countertops, formaldehyde-free cabinets and low VOC water based finishes.

Outside the home, the landscape includes native drought tolerant plants, fruit-bearing bushes, and a small vegetable garden. Three rain gardens planted with native grasses and flowering perennials capture water run-off from the roof.

By Wilcon Construction

JL Wageman Homes: New Home Bronze

MNGS New Home Bronze Logo

JL Wageman Homes

J.L. Wageman Homes, a true custom Builder, is now experienced in achieving the MN GreenStar standards with building of this certified home.  Planning from start to finish is the main key to incorporate the 5 elements of building green.  The energy efficiency of geothermal heating system, the resource efficiency of the reclaimed granite countertops in the kitchen and baths, indoor environmental quality of low voc paints and hard surface flooring, the water conservation using low flow toilets and faucets, rain gardens, and native plantings in the landscaping and the site and community impact of restored prairie lands and maintained excavated soil to reuse on site.  These are just a few of the highlights that makes this home energy efficient and durable now and being sustainable in the years to come.  Let J.L. Wageman Homes expertise work for you.

By Jerry Wageman, JL Wageman Homes

JL Wageman Homes - Fireplace  JL Wageman Homes - Kitchen

For more information on this project visit www.jlwagemanhomes.com.

Creek Hill Custom Homes: New Home Bronze

New Home Bronze
Creek Hill Custom Homes

When Rick and Adrienne Harrison contacted Michael Hillesheim of Creek Hill Custom Homes Inc. to build their new home according to MN GreenStar qualifications, Mike eagerly accepted the opportunity to learn more about “Green” building hands on.  Creek Hill Custom Homes has always built a great quality home for their buyer(s) but now the challenge was to build a home with respect to the future.

The building site/lot was formerly park land that had been used as a fill site.  Soil corrections were accomplished by using the soil on site.  The house was built with energy efficient walls.  A metal roof was used as well as other energy efficient fixtures and building materials.

Our subcontractors were made more aware of environmental impact and material conservation.  They have carried this awareness and conservation on into other new construction.  Our framers now use materials more efficiently and conservatively after building a MN GreenStar house.

The Harrison’s and Creek Hill Custom Homes Inc. are proud of the achievement of building a certified MN GreenStar home and contributing to a better future for everyone.

By Barb Fisher, Creek Hill Custom Homes

For more information on this project visit www.creekhillcustomhomes.com.