As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is plenty to be grateful for. Commercial and multifamily buildings around the country and around the world are more accessible than ever for people with mobility impairments of all kinds. These increases in accessibility are crucial for an ever-increasing segment of the population: Nearly 20% of Americans have a disability and as the population ages, the percentage of people with disabilities will continue to rise.
But the ADA has limitations, and chief among them is that it applies only to multi-family and commercial buildings – not to single-family homes. Millions of new and existing single-family homes are designed in such a way that a person with a disability can’t use them without making significant – and costly – modifications. Which is why we are so excited to see the progress being made in Ohio and around the country related to accessibility in single-family homes.
A bipartisan bill recently introduced in the Ohio state legislature would provide $5,000 grants to homeowners and contractors who need help making homes more accessible. There is also progress on the federal level. “Mark and I are excited to learn that federal legislation has just been introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (of Illinois). This would require new homes built with federal dollars to meet accessibility standards – including a zero-step entrance, wheelchair accessible doorways and bathrooms, and climate controls that are at a height reachable from a wheelchair,” says Rosemarie Rossetti, an activist who pushes for more accessible single-family homes.
Everyone benefits when homes are more accessible. When Ohio State University and the Ohio Development Disabilities Council surveyed 250 residents about their feelings on accessibility features like wider hallways, sloped entrances and no stairs they found that buyers would be willing to pay nearly $15,000 more for an accessible home, and that accessible homes sell quicker. The same features that make homes accessible for a person in a wheelchair make a home easier to navigate with a child in a stroller, as I discovered after becoming a father.
As part of the same study, researchers also surveyed people who work in construction. They found that making a new home accessible added, on average, less than 1% to the total construction costs, and costs $4,000 less than retrofitting a home later.
At the GreenHome Institute, we are working to integrate accessibility, universal design and assistive technology into green home programs. Green homes are healthy, comfortable homes; Healthy homes should be accessible to everyone, regardless of mobility limitations or age. It’s important to educate and encourage builders, designers and architects to design new homes in an accessible way. It’s equally crucial that we provide resources and guidance to help make existing homes more accessible during rehabs, renovations and additions.
We have been lucky to have the help of several experts in accessibility. First of all, Rosemarie Rossetti, who uses her own story and her LEED-Silver-certified home to raise awareness about both green building and accessibility. Our board member Ramesh Gulatee is an architect with LifeCare Design Studio and specializes in designing buildings that meet the needs of people with disabilities. He has always pushed us to make accessibility a central part of our green building program.
We have also been working with the Disability Advocates of Kent County, who developed the first national 3rd-party verified accessibility certification program called ZeroStep. National green building organizations are taking note: The U.S. Green Building Council offers an innovation point to buildings that meet “Design for Adaptability” guidelines, and ZeroStep guidelines are part of the GreenStar Homes Certification. The GreenStar tool includes a downloadable ZeroStep guidance checklist to help green builders meet accessibility standards.
We have several resources available to green builders who would like to integrate accessibility for people with disabilities into their designs.
- Use the GreenStar ZeroStep checklist to plan new homes and renovations of existing homes;
- Watch this free webinar about the ZeroStep program;
- Stay tuned for a virtual tour of a certified accessible single-family home.
Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, a long time partner but new member of the institute, hopes to complete its first LEED for Homes v4 certified home in the spring of 2015. In fact, this home is positioned to be the first LEED v4 home in Michigan.
Introduced a year ago, LEED v4 is the newest version of the popular internationally accepted accreditation program, offering new categories (such as human health and natural resources), time-saving support tools and enhanced opportunities for building performance management.
Located at Oakland Ave. SW, Habitat Kent’s newest project is part of the Grand Rapids Community College 100th anniversary build. The majority of the home will be built by students studying green construction in the GRCC Tassell M-Tec program. This home, which started in August, is one of three homes that M-Tec students will partner with Habitat Kent to build this year.
- Cutting-edge water heater designed to improve efficiency through a closed combustion system that pulls fresh combustion air in from the outside – eliminating the need for a fresh air intake
- Extremely tight and well-insulated house envelope to save in heating costs
- Additional testing measures, including pre-drywall, infra-red camera testing and blower door tests, to help ensure quality of the thermal envelope
The GRCC students have been eager to learn about sustainable design and the LEED for Homes program. Working on this house provides them the opportunity to understand efficient building practices that go beyond a typical code built home.
“We purposefully chose a GRCC build to be our first LEED v4 home because of the commitment of the GRCC M-TEC programs to sustainable building practices,” said Brandyn Deckinga, Habitat Kent project manager. “As with any LEED-certified building, the partnership with all trade contractors, material suppliers, energy raters and others is vital in the overall success of the build.”
Jamison Lenz, GHI program manager has been working with the students to meet the LEED V4 train the trades requirements and helping them understand many components of a LEED home through on site and classroom education.
To keep up to date with the build, connect with Habitat Kent on Facebook.
Marsha Traxler Reeves and John Reeves, Homeowners
During the time when Marsha & John Reeves were in the market for a new home after deciding to move from the Ann Arbor region, they happened upon a green home educational session put on by the SE region’s sustainability design expert, Michael Klement. There were sold from there.
“According to my teachers, the two primary guidelines for being a good person in the Anishinaabe world are: 1. Don’t take more than you need, and 2. Don’t waste. Since I am always working to be a good person, it was essential to follow these guidelines in building a house. Green building helps people to avoid taking more than they need and to avoid waste as much as possible. We are blessed in this part of the world to have people with a great deal of knowledge and experience in green building, so the choice to build ‘green’ was easy.” – Marsha Traxler Reeves, Homeowner
It was no surprise that when choosing to move to Newaygo, the Reeves contacted Vos Energy Concepts, a small residential construction company in Rockford that only commits to building green homes. The home the Reeves wanted to build was no ordinary new home. It was to be located in the Manistee National Forest on acreage connected to the beautiful Muskegon River – and the goal was preservation. The project removed neither heritage nor important trees from the site. Dan Vos, a builder from Vos Energy Concepts says: “Small tree logs from the land were split in half, left with bark, and were placed inside between the window frames. Support posts for the patios and entrance roof on the home are logs also from the property.” In addition, rainwater will be captured on site with rain barrels. The water will be used to water the medicinal plants that grow around the house along with the gardens. The gardens are not conventional, rather, they follow the practice of huglekultur. Huglekultur is an alternative type of raised bed garden system that stays fertilized and moist from a decaying log planted underneath it. Any unused rainwater, because it comes off a food-grade metal roof, will not harm the local aquifer as it immediately goes back into the ground.
Inside the house you will get a sense of biophilliac design elements including use of tree branches, natural shapes, and ample interior natural lighting which provides views of the natural world outside. Many of the materials, finishes, trims, and cabinets were locally made using regionally sourced or reused materials. As the Vos Energy Concepts website states, “Old School chalkboards were up-cycled, cut to size, polished, and placed as the window sills. Small tree branches standing up, stripped, and finished placed throughout the home are used for hanging scarves, wet gloves, coats, baskets, towels, and whatever else needs a place. A local artist, Kendra McKimmy, put together a design of a tree from the shore of Lake Superior. Stones collected by the homeowner and artist were used in the making of this beautiful tree that is located on the bathroom curved wall facing the soaking tub.”
“I believe that there are finite resources for all of mankind. So to be a steward of resources becomes a requirement for all of us. I have 11 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren that are counting on those of us in the decision process today to make responsible choices in the use of our finite resources. Building green is one of those responsible choices. ” – John Reeves, Homeowner
From an energy standpoint, this home rated at a HERS index of 16 which makes it 84% more energy efficient than the standard built-to-code home. The HERS index score comes from local Energy Rater, John Kuyper, who reviewed all of the components and mechanicals of the home to accurately project it’s efficiency. The super tight and efficient concrete foam shell of the home sits on insulated concrete floors which retain the heat of the sun in the winter. Above the home, the attic is insulated and air-sealed with a reflective metal roof to keep down the heat from the sun in the winter. All energy star appliances and LED lightbulbs are installed throughout and a Heat Recovery Ventilator keeps fresh air circulating in the house while avoiding a lot of heat loss during the winter. The home also utilizes a very high efficiency and sealed wood stove for cold winters and radiant floors in junction with a mini split air source heat pump powered by solar PV and hot water to keep the energy costs down and the homeowners comfortable.In addition to the fresh air, the air quality in the home is not diminished because the home only uses low- or no-VOC paints, primers, and sealants, as well as tiled bath surrounds that prevent interior mold growth behind the walls.
The Reeves joined Consumer’s EARP program and started generating electricity in November, 2013, but didn’t get a statement from them that included generating information until June, 2014. Therefore, they only have information from 5/14/14 to 9/12/14, a third of the year and months with long days:
kWh generated 5/14/14 – 9/12/14: 3923
kWh used 5/14/14 – 9/12/14: 1737
2186 generated above used
They expect to achieve see Net Zero Energy but stay tuned!
The GreenStar process, while being fairly easy to utilize, was made easier by Dan Vos’s experience with building many LEED certified homes. The Reeves’ goals on this project did not align with LEED for Homes, but GreenStar certification made a lot of sense for them. While we approached this home using GreenStar in the middle of the construction period, the reviewers were still able to retain what they needed to verify the home’s completion. “Brett and the GreenHome Institute staff were wonderful to work with! They went far beyond my expectations in assisting us through the application and certification process. Their personal attention to the details of our needs was truly impressive,” said Marsha Traxler Reeves.
Don’t miss the June 6th 2015 Tour – Continuing Education
This home was designed and built by Dan Vos, Vos Energy Concepts.
ICF walls & slab work was done by Eldon Howe of Howe Construction
Energy Efficiency and Green Built features include:
-Hers score rating of 16.
-ICF walls-Concrete stained floors.
-Energy Star North star Triple pane windows.
-Solar hot water and Photovoltaic (PV) panels.
-High efficiency wood stove when needed.
-Radiant heat throughout the house.
-HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator)
-Mini Split Heat Pump that heats and cools the air.
-Insulated blinds for all windows, keeping the winter warmth in and coolness in the summer.
-Insulation under concrete floors.
-Energy star appliances.
-Stucco walls on outside of home, giving the homeowners little upkeep on outside.
-Energy star lightning LED throughout the entire house.
-Locally milled rough sawn wood planed by builder and used for floors in loft area, ceilings in bedroom area and also for countertops in bathrooms (Oak and Walnut).
-Tiled in bathrooms-backsplash areas, tub surround & walk-in shower.
-Hanging pendants lights, ceiling lights, and ceiling fans with LED bulbs purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Resore.
-Old school house chalkboards up-cycled for window sills.
-Barrier free design.
Grand Rapids, MI – Home Energy Magazine is celebrating their 30 year anniversary. To honor this milestone, they have compiled a list of the top thirty entrepreneurs under the age of thirty who have significantly contributed to the home performance industry.
Included in this list is Brett Little, Executive Director of the GreenHome Institute and Shane Gring, founder of BOULD. Home Energy Magazine is recognizing Brett and Shane as individuals that have made a positive impact and have identified that moving forward, these two will continue represent the industry. They were formally recognized in the September issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Brett is a native to Muskegon and moved to Grand Rapids to pursue a Bachelors of Sustainable Business at Aquinas College. Brett started his work with the GreenHome Institute (when it was the Green Home Institute) as an intern and worked is way up to the Executive Director position in 2010. Since that time Brett has helped significantly grow the LEED for Homes program. He has also worked hard to increase programing for online green home education, residential green remodeling, and energy scorings. He has also been an integral part of The Nest project, which will be the first Living Building Challenge home in Michigan.
Shane Gring, who hails from SE Michigan, worked for a time at Kent County Habitat for Humanity where he developed the first ever Green Building Hack-a-Thon. The Hack-a-Thon is now an international program that helps college students, young professionals, and green building professionals get required LEED experience in a classroom setting. While doing so, this program also helps affordable housing developers with their green scopes of work and LEED registered projects.
Home Energy Magazine offers useful and practical information regarding residential energy efficiency, comfort and affordability. As a nonprofit company, their goal is to get whole-house home performance information out to the public. They are commemorating their 30 year anniversary by releasing their Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 list as well as re-publishing some of their oldest articles.
Learn more about Home Energy Magazine.
LEED for Homes version 4 (V4) will be in full swing October 31st 2016 but it’s important to get started early on understanding the updates from 2008. In anticipation of this we have teamed up with the LEED for Homes lead reviewer and chief rating systems expert Jay Hall of Jay Hall & Associates.
We will cover all 8 sections of the new rating system through 9 online live webinars and review scenarios that explore what happens when 2008 projects update to V4. The mail focus will be credit by credit interpretations, market acceptance, cost benefit analysis and comparisons to the old rating systems.
Sign up and learn how the system changed and how it applies to single / multi family, low/mid/high rise, new and rehabbed homes and residential buildings, apartments, developments and dorms!
Builders, Designers, Architect, Developers, Remodelers, Researches and Policy Makers who have past LEED for Homes experience and understanding.
Pre Courses to this course recommended
- Overview of V4.0 Changes, IP, LT, and Intro to Process Changes (New Tools)
- SS – Sustainable Sites
- WE – Water Efficiency
- EA – Prescriptive Energy & Atmosphere Prescriptive Pathway
- EA – Performance (New LEED Energy Budget) Pathway
- MR – Materials & Resources
- IEQ Indoor Environmental Quality
- Innovation & Regional Priority
Bonus Course! Application of LH v4.0 to Different Project Types (i.e., Low Rise, Mid-Rise), and Summary / Next Steps
LEED V4 is now available to use but you this webinar series is to help you succeed before taking a dive in head first.
Learning Lessons and Outcomes
- Know how to migrate your LEED 2008 projects to the new V4 checklist to achieve certification
- Understand how to use V4 to ensure your next project contributes to the health, safety, welfare and overall sustainability for building residents and the community at large
- Get up to speed on benefits, draw backs and opportunities with the new HOMES v4 rating system
- Learn where you can find more resources and expertise for further help in residential green design, construction and rehab opportunities
Don’t get left behind when the rating system changes. Project teams will no long be able to register homes, multi family or mixed use buildings under the 2008 or 2009 rating systems after 10/31/2016.
Continuing Education 1 AIA LU/HSW, GBCI (LEED Specific), NARI Green* * 9 CEUs for entries series
Presenter & Developer – Jay Hall, Ph.D, LEED APH “Jay has 30 years experience in market transformation, sustainable design of buildings, and energy efficiency. He is an expert in building energy modeling, and green building verification. Jay earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University. In 1989, he began with ICF International as a consultant working on EPA’s
ENERGY STAR market transformation programs. Since 2004, Jay has provided independent consulting services to the US Green Building Council in developing the LEED for Homes program. Jay was Acting Director for LEED for Homes for two years. He is also the lead programmatic and verification consultant for the Green Communities Offset Fund. Jay has served on the Home Depot Foundation Awards of Excellence Selection Committee; the Habitat for Humanity International Partnership for Sustainable Buildings Advisory Committee; and, The Healthy House Institute Advisory Board. Jay is also a LEED Faculty member. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, for the past 25 years, Jay and his wife, Kim, have resided with their two sons in Annapolis, Maryland. Jay Hall & Associates.
Before you dive in watch the introduction to LEED for Homes V4 – 1 hour webinar (CEs) – A free course here
- GHI Member Pricing – $50.00
- Partner Org Pricing – $100.00*
- Non Member Pricing – $120.00
- Single Session – $30.00
* Local chapter members of AIA, AIBD, USGBC, HBA, NARI or ILFI get 10% off. Must verify this after payment.
The Grand Rapids based non-profit, formerly the Green Home Institute, has changed their name to the GreenHome Institute.
When it comes to sustainability, health, and energy efficiency in our homes, there are so many different options, choices, and conflicting messages. It can be difficult to know what to do. The GreenHome Institute is taking the guess-work out of green through:
- online and in-person education and training
- free resources and tools
- third-party inspection services
Executive Director Brett Little believes consumers have plenty of options when considering sustainable housing. “We are a non-profit that exists to empower people who seek healthy and sustainable choices in the renovation and construction of the places we live. We are very excited to help people make sense of all the green home information, products, and programs out there.” GHI accomplishes their goal by providing timely, relevant, and accurate resources so that the public can compare options and rule out the possibility of ‘green washing.’
Through their LEED for Homes program and GreenStar Certification, the GreenHome Institute has verified over 5,000 new and existing residential buildings that are now certified healthy, durable, energy, and water efficient. Little believes these buildings improve the communities they are in: “A green home should be attainable to anyone, regardless of socio-economic class or race. It should be the norm in all construction and remodeling in the future.”
As director of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Dan Schoonmaker says that now is the time for the GreenHome Institute: “The market has evolved significantly over the past 14 years since their inception (as the Green Home Institute) but it’s the next 14 years that I am excited about! McGraw/Hill Construction predicted this year that 30% of the residential market will commit to green activity, equating to nearly a $100 billion industry by 2016. This new name and realigned programming better communicates to the market what the GreenHome Institute is trying to do and how they can help.”
When building and renovating, it can be tough to determine which products or processes lend to a greener project. The GreenHome Institute offers two free online education sessions for both LEED and GreenStar that homeowners, designers, and contractors can use to generate green scopes of work for subcontractors (such as insulators, heating and cooling, electricians, plumber, energy raters, and other professionals). These can be used to prompt design and bidding for light remodels in all areas of a home (including basements, kitchens, or additions) as well as “full gut-rehabs” or even new construction projects.
The GreenHome Institute serves anyone in the Midwest who lives in a residential building—single-family or multi-family—who seeks design, construction, renovation, or weatherization services. Our mission is to empower people to make healtheir and more sustianable choices in the places we live.
The GreenHome Institute trains and executes home energy audits in partnership with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and with the City of Holland, Michigan. The City of Holland has recently been undergoing their major community energy plan which involves all sectors improving energy efficiency through residential, commercial, industrial and major municipal utility support. The City of Holland has also been announced as a quarter finalist in the Georgetown Energy Prize in attempt to win 5 million dollars based on competing to improve residential energy use. GreenHome Institute has be contracted to educate 50 homeowners in Holland on how their homes use energy and give their homes a performance label based on the residential energy performance score. This pilot will help the city assess the best way to help encourage, educate, and genuinely excite their residents to reduce energy, save money, and improve comfort and health. The GreenHome Institute will be giving these MPG-like home energy scores while also assessing homes for water conservation, indoor environmental quality, solar PV energy opportunities, and help with plans for green remodeling if desired. GHI will be provided unique funding opportunities as well to reduce the cost of moderate to deep energy retrofit projects. City of Holland planner Mark VanderPloeg sees the GreenHome Institute as a key partner in achieving their long-term sustainability goals: “In our long-term community energy plan for the city, it is important that we promote an easy to understand ‘miles-per-gallon-like’ rating for a home that has value and recognition in the community and is backed by an affordable, proficient, and easy to understand home energy audit. After a few years of research we believe the GreenHome Institute’s label will provide us with that.” Here are more details about the program in Holland.
GreenHome Institute has partnered with the Blue House Energy to deliver to deliver convenient online education that earns you CEUs. This is training is ideal for contractors, remodelers, trades, architects, raters, and more.
Building Science Basics is the ‘fundamentals’ course. It covers heat, air, and moisture flows, indoor air quality, ventilation requirements and air sealing fundamentals. Once you’ve completed Building Science Basics, you can pick and choose from a series of modules that build on the basics. GHI members always get special pricing and great offers on all BHE training that relates to GreenStar program requirements.
Building Science Basics Course
- House as a System
- Indoor Air Quality
- Ventilation and Combustion Spillage
- Bonus Module – Air Sealing Fundamentals
Continuing Education Units – CEs Available
- BPI 4.5
- GBCI 10
- AIA (HSW) 10
- NARI Green 10
- State contractor / designer may be available*
- NATE – Pending
In 2015, the GreenHome Institute (GHI) will also be continuing their work with affordable housing developers by replicating a very successful program delivered in partnership with their Chicago office and USGBC Illinois. The Wege Foundation will be supporting the GreenHome Institute’s Green Affordable Housing training with a $20,000 grant. This grant will help thirty to forty affordable housing developer stakeholders become LEED credentialed and trained on how and why to design, build, and rehab multi- and single-family buildings to the new LEED v4 standard, which is due to launch in October of 2016.
Terri McCarthy, Vice President of Programs at the Wege Foundation says, “We are very excited to continue working with the GreenHome Institute because we are very supportive of LEED in the affordable housing sector in Kent County. This program will help ensure healthier and more energy efficient affordable housing for residents who are most in need, through design and trades training, credentialing along with credible third party inspections and energy testing of these homes.”
The GreenHome Institute is thrilled to continue this partnership with a foundation who has helped them in the past to jump start the LEED for Homes provider-ship with a $36,000 grant. It is clear the foundation wants to see LEED v4 be just as successful as LEED 2008. Without support from the Wege Foundation, it would be near impossible to educate, train, and consult to help overcome the stringency of the new program.
Throughout this project, GHI will be sharing the lessons we learn with the USGBC IL chapter and their programming committee who in the past 3 years attracted nearly 70 participants with roughly 30% going on to become LEED for Homes accredited. Some have even gone forward to develop green- and LEED-registered affordable housing. We believe every USGBC chapter can create partnerships locally to expand Green Affordable Housing in their communities. We hope that what we learn during this process can help reduce the barriers to develop with LEED v4 for Homes.
We plan to start this project in early spring and complete training in the fall of 2015. Stay tuned as we progress!
Green Home Institute
PO Box 68164
Grand Rapids MI 49516
Tel: (616) 458-6733
Toll Free: (888) 533-3274
- GreenHome Institute continues Green Affordable Housing Initiative after receiving Wege Foundation Grant.
- Welcome our New LEED for Homes Primary Quality Assurance Director (PQAD) – Christin Kappel
- Jeff Dombrowski, affordable housing developer to lead GHI as president through 2018
- Danny McGee, Sustainability Consultant takes Vice President Roll on GHI Board
- Dave Dye, sustainable homes designer joins GHI Board and takes on secretary position.