The Isabella MN Ecologically Balanced Building goes to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Imagine that every building maintained the ecological balance needed to sustain life on earth. Then, imagine all of humanity motivated to take action, to make this dream a reality. An immensely complicated goal? Maybe. But if we put our fears of failure at the back of the bus, we will maximize the possibility of success.

View & Download Project Profile Here

 

An immensely complicated goal?  Maybe.  But if we put our fears of failure at the back of the bus, we will maximize the possibility of success.

Nature has provided us with many examples of “buildings” that achieve an ecological balance.  If we follow her example, it is indeed realistic to believe we can prevail.

An Ecologically Balanced Building (EBB), then, is the most advanced building possible for our times because it strives to replicate the ecological balance found in nature.

An EBB incorporates a multitude of interrelated, smart design choices, resulting in a building that virtually lives and breathes, is beautifully balanced, aesthetically pleasing, and is socially responsible and sustainable.  It must meet the following criteria:

1.       Generate more clean energy than it uses.

2.       Sustainably manage the use of water.

3.       Waste nothing.

4.       Adapt to new conditions.

5.       Work symbiotically with all other living things.

6.       Eliminate toxins and pollutants.

7.       Add beauty & justice to our world

We have the technology and the building science to achieve these lofty imperatives.  Fortunately, we are also able to monitor, measure, and verify claims that a building actually accomplishes its intended goals.  If we can’t prove our claims, they are meaningless.

The Isabella EBB Project’s initial goal was to create the most environmentally conscious building possible.  It targeted integrating all seven design criteria listed above.  Additionally, each criterion is monitored, measured and verified to prove, we can indeed live in balance with nature.  Following is a description of how the Isabella EBB Project integrated the design criteria:

1.        The Isabella EBB Project was designed to consume an annual energy load of 4.5 kBTU/sq-ft. It achieved Passive House Certification, (HERS rating of 3), as the design method to achieve this extremely low energy use index. This is similar to having a 200 MPG car in lieu of our standard a 25 MPG car. There are 9,700 Heating Degree Days in this climate zone & 189 Cooling Degree Days.  This was accomplished through the design and construction of thermally broken/R 55 walls and R 90 roof, the use of high performance windows with glazing selected specifically to optimize the solar gain for each orientation and an air tightness of .5 air changes per hour.  Using BTU meters on the heating distribution system, the system is to telling us if the design loads are being met.

2.       Because extreme measures were taken to reduce the energy loads for this building, renewable energy generation produces more energy than is needed to operate the building.  An 11,000 kWH per year PV system/8.4 kw peak load and 92 solar heat collecting vacuum tubes averaging 172,500 BTUs per day collect renewable energy. An experimental long term solar storage area using 16 inches of EPS  insulation on all six sides contains both waste taconite from mines and sand.  Excess solar heat collection in the summer, fall and spring are stored in this solar storage containment area under the building.  The monitoriong system is gathering temperatures of the containment area, the Kwh generated and used  and kBTUs for the collection system.  We hope to prove that we are producing more clean energy than we use and that this solar storage system can be scaled down for use in other buildings.

3. Two additional areas used for solar storage: a 500 gallon water tank and an 80 gallon domestic hot water tank.  These are also being monitor and measured to tell us how hot they are and how many days of cloudy conditions depletes the stored energy supply.

4. A small electric boiler is used for backup energy should the building need it due to depletion of solar energy.  This boiler is also being monitor to tell us if it is being powered on.  This has already proven to be a great diagnostic tool, as it told us that the relays and sensors were not properly sequenced because the boiler was turning on whenever the domestic hot water dropped a few degrees.

5. A Heat Recovery Ventilation System makes sure that the building and occupants are receiving the right amount of fresh air at the right temperature.  An innovative ground loop heat recovery system is connected to the HRV to preheat the outside air prior to being heated by the exhaust air from the building.  The success of preheating  the incoming sub zero temperature fresh air with heated water from the ground near the footings of the building is being gathered by the monitoring system.  We hope to discover a 10 to 15 degree preheating of temperature through this system.

6. A rain water collection system and vegetative roof assures that water continues to perform its job of replenishing the aquifers and supporting plants and animals that conversely support an ecologically balanced building.

7. Information being stored through the use of the monitoring system is allowing the building to be adapted to new conditions and future improvements. Security alarms, for example, are sent when power, pumps, temperatures or water levels are not performing as intended.  Historical data gives us the ability to adjust and improve the performance due to accessibility to baseline and historical data.

8. An extreme waste and material management system was incorporated in this EBB.  Sustainable & reclaimed wood products, fast growing bio-fiber products, repurposed materials (e.g., old doors for ceilings, old radiators fins for guard rails, old wine barrels for chairs, old chalk boards for sills, and reclaimed tile), contribute to achieving zero waste and low life cycle assessment values.

9. Two highly recognized environmental third party auditing/certifications (LEED and Passive House) were achieved for this project, certifying the project at it the highest level possible.  This achievement summarizes that there were many other features, to lengthy to describe for this entry, that make this project one of the most advanced ecologically balanced buildings of our times.

10. Social justice and beauty are parts of ecology that acknowledge the value of spiritually engaging people through art  while also supporting  the notion of providing equal access and opportunities to all people.  The Isabella EBB project embraced adding beauty through the creation of a place that is welcoming, educational, inspiring, healthful, intriguing and fun.  The importance of social justice was a goal that surfaced during the learning experiences of the project.  Consequently, the project will be willed to the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, as an extension of their educational mission of teaching and influencing students the importance of living in balance with nature.

Isabella EBB Project Team

The critical success factors for the project team included:

1.    keeping the integrated design process alive and well throughout the entire projects development,

2.    checking  boiler plate designs at the door,

3.    if the project team achieved the goals stated above the points would follow and certification would provide the auditing needed to further validate our assumptions.

3.    understanding that everyone was on a ecological educational journey

4.    that fearless, open and honest communication  was mandatory, (typical passive/aggressive northern climate personality styles would keep innovation from reaching its potential).

 

Owner: John Eckfeldt eckfe001@umn.edu

Architect/Owner: Nancy Schultz, AIA LEED AP, nschultz@compassrose-inc.com

Energy Conservation Specialist:  Mikeal LeBeau, Conservation Technologies, Inc.  mlebeau@conservtech.com

Builder: Brad Holmes, Rod and Sons Carpentry, mooshed2@msn.com

Electrician/Designer: Justin Bartuss,  voltage@q.com

Mechanical Engineer: Bill Gausman PE, Monitoring and Verification System, bill.gausman@peopleselectric.com

HVAC & Plumbing Contractor: John Hill, Heating Plus,   heatplus@frontiernet.net

Landscape Architect: Gus Blumer, SEH,  gblumer@sehinc.com

Green Rater: Jimmie Sparks, The Neighborhood Energy Connection, jimmie@thenec.com

LEED Provider: Mike Holcomb, Green Home Institute, mike@homeinspectorgeneral.com

The Vineyard Project

Nestled in South Western Michigan’s wine country this home is located next to a vineyard in Paw Paw, Michigan, thus the project name. This home is a site specific, Passive Solar Prairie style home built with BuildBlock ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) from foundation to the roof. The exterior elevations of the home were designed with deeper roof overhangs, determined by using solar calculations, to both maximize and minimize the sun exposure based on the time of year. In addition, solar awnings on the lower level windows further shade the South-facing windows. The exterior used two of our favorite products CertainTeed FiberCement Siding and Andersen 400 series casement and awning windows. The interior of the home has stained concrete floor on all levels which makes for great thermal mass. The home was also designed with lifetime design principles and has zero step entries. Click here to view the project profile


art of the site specific design was to locate the garage to act as a wind break, to stop snow drifting from the northwest prevailing winds that we have here in Michigan. Part of the passive solar design is to have very little windows on the north side of the home, to keep heat from escaping through them. That is why this homes attention to detail is spent on the Southside of the home, where most of the homes windows face south. In the winter, the sun will warm the living space during the day and shine on the concrete floors on both levels which will store some of the heat gained, for gradual release. The roof overhang will shade the house from excessive solar heat gain in the summer, and west-facing glass is minimized to reduce cooling needs in the summer. ICF construction was perfect for this project because with ICF’s there are no concerns with noise and wind.

The “Vineyard Project” is a Zero Energy Home (ZEH) thanks to the Passive Solar Design, 3.3 kW of Photovoltaic, Solar Hot Water and the Geo-Thermal heating and cooling system. The home is also pre-wired for future installation of a Wind Generator. This home only uses about 600 kWh of electricity per month and has been generating a minimum of 20 kWh of electricity per day with many days’ net-metering backwards since the home was completed. The home was built for $134.00 per square foot (before the 30% rebates from the Solar Hot Water, Photovoltaic and Geo-thermal systems) making it more affordable for the general public.

Besides the pending LEED for Homes “Platinum” certification this home received 5+ Energy Star certification and a HERS score of 34. This is the lowest score every tested in the State of Michigan making it the most energy efficient house in Michigan. This home will be 66% more efficient than typical construction of a similar home of this size. In addition this homes toilets, faucets and shower heads are super low-flow for superior water efficiency. The home also has low-VOC paints, adhesives and finishes and uses recycled content for the flooring, decking, foundation and siding.

Click here for more information and project profile.

Bridge St Place. LEED Platinum

The land and building was purchased from the Diocese of Grand Rapids. The building was renovated into approximately 16 efficiency apartments with individual bathrooms and kitchenettes for homeless survivors of domestic violence. The name for the project is Bridge Street Place. It is permanent supportive housing project, serving single persons at 60% AMI The project has 16 project based housing vouchers provided by the Supportive Housing Division of MSHDA. Referrals and support services are provided by the YWCA West Central Michigan.

The building was renovated from a high content of recycled and reused materials, products that are within a 500 mile radius of the project site, rainwater falling on the roof is harvested to irrigate the landscape, plant materials are drought resistant and the irrigation system is high efficiency. All plumbing fixtures have water conserving fixtures, kitchen appliances are energy star rated, light bulbs are compact fluorescent, roof and patio

materials are highly reflective and reduce urban island effect. The building envelope has been improved, reducing on-going energy
consumption through reduced air infiltration.

Rockford Construction –
General contractors and construction
managers building new and restoring
old projects across 41 States.
Dwelling Place – is all about providing
affordable housing, supportive
services and revitalizing
neighborhoods.
Financed with low income housing tax
credit equity.

View & Download LEED for Homes Project Profile

LEED Platinum Midrise in Columbus, OH

LEED Midrise earns LEED Platinum

This 4-story affordable housing development leveraged the development team’s quality building practices already in place, and with only minor modifications, allowed the team to earn LEED Platinum certification.

 

Commons at Buckingham - a LEED Platinum Midrise project in Columbus, OH

In order to achieve the level of LEED platinum, fixture specifications were changed, and a complete building exhaust and return air system was added. Commons at Buckingham is a very special effort, by providing housing for 100 formerly homeless persons, 10 of which are U.S. Veterans.

The Commons at Buckingham is 100 units on a 0.6 acre site. Ruscilli Construction Company through great effort were able to construct this building on a very small site, and were able to achieve a rate of 88% for all construction waste to be recycled. Additionally, Ruscilli and their sub-contractors were able to donate many tons of ‘waste’ to a local community college for use in their construction trades training program.

PROJECT BASICS

LEED FactsProject Type: Affordable
Conditioned Space: 60,791 sq ft
Units: 100
Buildings: 1
Lot Type: Infill
Construction Type: New Construction
KEYS TO SUCCESS

Roof Insulation Value: 38
Windows: Alum.NexGen
Lighting: LED
HVAC Type:PTAC/RooftopReturn

Buckingham LEED ScorecardThe Density of this project is what makes the project truly sustainable, 100 units on .6 acres.

THE LEED FOR HOMES DIFFERENCE
Construction Waste Management Plan: YES!
On-Site Performance Tests: YES!
Custom Durability Planning Checklist: YES!
Third-Party Verified Documentation: YES!
About the Project Team

Developer – National Church Residences
General Contractor – Ruscilli Construction Company
Architect – Berardi + Partners, Inc.
Engineers – Jezernac – Geers and Assoc. Kliengers and Assoc. Prater Engineering
Landscape Architect – The Edge Group
Green Rater – Sol Development

Watercress. Pentwater LEED Platinum

This homes siding is a hand hewn cedar log siding from Homestead Timbers with Anderson windows. The project will
be topped off with a burgundy metal standing seam roof. The interior will be using a lot of recycled content, including
cabinets for the wet bar and laundry room. Vanity tops for two bathrooms various columns and the mantel will come from tree’s at building site. This home will sit on the shores of Pentwater Lake with two spring feed creeks that flow into it. The creeks are lined with Watercress, which is where the project gets its name. View Project Profile

Logix ICF Foundation, SIP’s Panel Construction, Michigan White
Cedar Log siding & trim, Low-E argon gas filled Andersen
Windows Barrier free/Lifetime Design, Soy based insulation,
Stained Concrete Floors,Bamboo flooring,FSC Certified Kitchen
Cabinets,Recycled glass counter tops by Vetrazzo, Programmable
thermostats, Mechanical ventilation Radon venting,
Dual flush toilets by Toto,Zero VOC (volatile organic compounds)
paint High efficiency lighting fixtures

Michigan’s second LEED Platinum residential remodel.

The Nautilus House sprung from a need to fix a leaky roof, and a vision for energy and water independence on a beautiful wooded building site. Form follows function in this building designed to capture sunlight, water, and air currents. Like a
nautilus, it unfolds in an organic shape spiraling upward and outward on the original foundation, with existing materials and spaces re-inventing themselves within and around the structure. The owner, architect and builder worked together to
create a unique vision of home that will become Michigan’s second LEED Platinum residential remodel.

View/Download Complete Project Profile Here

All water from house collected and re-used. 600 gallon tank for a exterior shower on one side, and a 400 gallon recycled grain hopper on the other side. The shower can also be used to water plants, as can the grain hopper, and both overflow to rain gardens on the lot. The house recycles the heated air radiantly through an advanced duct system Energy Recovery Ventilator. The form and openness of the home also take advantage of another product of solar energy – wind – to create convective currents that cool the home passively. A 4 kW Solar Photovoltaic’s system with Sharp fixed panels and a Sunny Boy inverter.

Vanessa Way LEED for Homes Platinum

Designed by Image Design LLC and constructed by Hybrid Homes LLC, both of Western Michigan, the home is built with insulated concrete forms and uses Andersen Windows’ 400 series to complete its extremely air tight, energy efficient shell.  A solar hot water system and wind generator help the home conserve and produce its own energy.  Green building products used in the home include finger jointed studs, CertainTeed cement board siding with fly-ash added to it, and solar reflective asphalt shingles.

This home is one of 37 Michigan projects that have been certified under the LEED for Homes program. It is the first Platinum level home certified in West Michigan and only the 23rd in the nation.

 

 

The home was built by Adam Bearup of Hybrid Homes, LLC (Muskegon) who is well known throughout the State for his commitment in building LEED Homes and designed by Eric Hughes of Image Design, LLC (East Grand Rapids) who is recognized for specializing in sustainable residential design. For more information please visit
www.wmhybrid.com or www.imagedesignllc.blogspot.com

Located in Onekama, Michigan, just minutes north of Manistee ‐ 3047 Vanessa’s Way incorporates the following features:
• Low‐E argon gas filled Andersen Windows
• CertainTeed cement board siding
• High efficiency lighting fixtures
• Compact fluorescent bulbs
• ICF construction
• Soy based insulation
• Passive solar design
• Solar Hot water
• Radiant floor heat
• Wind generation
• Programmable thermostats
• Mechanical ventilation
• Zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint
• Bamboo and cork flooring
• Radon venting
• Barrier free/Lifetime Design
• Dual flush TOTO toilets
• Energy Star appliances