Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Simply by Updating Your Fireplace

The typical American household produces a carbon footprint of an estimated 48 tons per year— approximately doubling the global average. We are a nation in need of an environmental makeover, starting in the home.

Lowing your carbon footprint may seem like a daunting task, seeing that humans themselves are made up of carbon. Many may wonder how they can reduce their household’s carbon footprint without sacrificing their entire lifestyle.  One relatively simple way to lower your carbon footprint, as well as make your home more environmentally friendly, is to start with your fireplace.

Gas Log Systems versus Wood Burning: A Question of Efficiency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that America has more than 12 million wood stoves and fireplaces in homes present-day, 9 million of them being outdated and not up to the EPA’s standards. These burn at a rate that’s 50% less efficient than updated systems.

Thus, gas-burning fireplaces are largely more environmentally friendly and more efficient than their older, wood-burning counterparts. The EPA also claims that replacing your older fireplace will cut your need for wood by two-thirds, which effectively saves you a lot of time, money, fuel, and resources.

Emissions

Your car isn’t the only thing that has emissions—fireplaces have emissions as well.  While both wood and gas-burning fireplaces release emissions into the air, gas systems do so in a massively less significant portion. It’s been found that natural gas fireplace systems can have much less of an impact than wood— with 99% less pollutants. This huge cutback in emissions means your gas-burning fireplace will produce less unhealthy pollution in your home, as well as outdoors. It will also cut Creosote build up in your chimney, which is a highly flammable byproduct of burning wood in your fireplace; not to mention that you’ll no longer have to deal with pesky soot or ashes. A good rule of thumb is: the lower the emissions, the higher the efficiency.

Health Benefits

Not only does replacing your wood burning fireplace with a gas burning one reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also reduce health risks. A gas burning fireplace will naturally reduce wood smoke pollution, which has been linked to cancer, asthma, and a slew of other health issues. This simple change can make a big difference in your family’s health.

Vented and Vent Free Gas Burning Fireplaces

There are two types of gas burning fireplaces: vented and vent free. Each have pros and cons depending on what you’re seeking for your household. Venting gas-burning fireplaces, for instance, will expose one to less Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), but they do not produce as much heat as vent-free systems, nor or they as efficient. Still, both options are considered to be safer and more efficient than older, wood-burning fireplace systems. Regardless of which you chose, fireplace experts suggest installing CO detectors in any gas installation.

Vented or not, replacing your outdated, wood-burning fireplace with a gas-burning system is not only financially savvy, but is also a simple and safe way to:

  • Lower your carbon footprint
  • Reduce the health risks associated with burning wood
  • Bring your home into a more environmentally-friendly and efficient way of life

Thus, hopefully you’ll stop to consider how you can make a difference in your own home, simply by reconsidering something as small as your fireplace.

Renae Hesselink Muskegon Homeowner goes solar!

Renae Hesselink is the first in West Michigan homeowner to sign up for the program and just completed her panel install Monday May 19th. Renae served as the past Chair of the US Green Building Council West Michigan (USGBCWM) and is a local sustainability leader.

Tell us about the processRenea Headshot & Solar Pv

“Finally after months of waiting, mostly due to the weather, Srinergy along with a local electrician team has  installed the 5Kw solar system on my home. I will be sharing the entire journey soon. I will have access via the web to see what my panels are generating by hour, by day, by week, month, annually. My goal is to help educate the many people out there that solar does work in Michigan and it is affordable. It should produce nearly the amount of electricity that I use on an annual basis with a return on investment”

“I turned on my solar panels around 5:00 p.m. on May 23rd – that was roughly 25 days ago. To date it has produced 554.9 Kwh an average of 23+  Kwh per day. From mid-April until Mid-May I used 434 total Kwh of electricity.  This system has produced above and beyond what I will use in a month’s time for sunnier months so far.”SOLAR PV Muskegon New

What is the Pay back? 

“My Solar PV will have an estimated return on investment of close to 10 years, increase my home value and allow me to take part in the sustainability movement to get away from fossil fuels”.

What about your home energy use?

Before going solar Renae worked with to get home energy audit and a Residential Energy Performance Score and is currently looking at ways to improve her energy efficiency and comfort.

Renae currently is the Vice President of Sustainability at Nichols in Muskegon and is exploring this application for their corporate headquarters and distribution centers.

Stay tuned for case studies 

Here is a photo of the first panel going up

 

 

 

 

 

 

USGBC LEED® for Homes™ Green Rater Training

Co-sponsored with Priority Energy

There are currently over 140,000 registered LEED® for Homes™ projects worldwide and over 50,000 certified with each project requires third-party on-site verification and performance testing by a LEED Green Rater. If you’re interested in filling this need as part of USGBC’s LEED for Homes Green Rater program, this training is for you!

The two-part LEED for Homes Green Rater Training is designed to prepare qualified participants to provide verification services on LEED for Homes projects.

Applicants must meet/submit initial qualifications and complete a two-part training (this two-day workshop and an online course component). Following the training, participants will take a computer-based exam provided by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) and complete a mentorship on real projects before earning the LEED for Homes Green Rater Certificate.  Must register by August 1st to be accepted.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify responsibilities of a LEED for Homes Green Rater in each phase of a project
  • Manage and conduct verification activities
  • Effectively use the project checklist file
  • Communicate effectively with project teams and LEED for Homes Providers
  • Apply the sampling protocol on applicable projects
  • Prepare accurate and complete certification submittal packages
  • Speak to major changes when V4 for Homes is launched

Audience
Priority EnergyThis training is intended for professionals with a minimum of three years’ experience in the residential construction industry and basic residential green building knowledge who are interested in providing verification services on  LEED for Homes projects. Those with a background in on-site verification and/or energy rating are particularly qualified. This program is being co-sponsored with Priority Energy, a RESNET and BPI training provider.

Prerequisites

Submit LEED for Homes Green Rater Eligibility Qualifications.

Continuing Education
This course, like all USGBC LEED education programs, meets GBCI eligibility requirements for the LEED Green Associate.

RESNET: 14 hours
BPI: 
8.5 CEUs
GBCI CE:
 14 hours (LEED Homes Specific)
AIA/CES: 14 HSW/SD Learning Units
BOMI: 14 (CPD)
CoreNet: 14 (CPD)
CSI: 1.6 (CEU)
NARI Green: 14 hours

Steps to Become a Green Rater

  • Step 1: Meet LEED for Homes Green Rater Eligibility Qualifications and submit application form to USGBC.
  • Step 2: Attend online live or recorded Implementing LEED for Homes Course  ( LEED AP+Homes can skip step 2). There will be an offering the day before on Aug 26 for those interested.
  • Step 3: Once accepted, complete five self-guided online learning modules prior to participating in the two-day LEED for Homes Green Rater Training.
  • Step 4: Take and pass LEED for Homes Green Rater exam through GBCI.
  • Step 5: Complete Green Rater Mentorship with a LEED for Homes provider within 24 months.
  • Step 6: Receive LEED for Homes Green Rater Certificate.

If you have any questions about Green Rater eligibility or working with a LEED for Homes provider, please contact Brett Little,

Bonus! – Become a GreenStar rater and assist contractors, remodelers and DYI homeowner’s on Green Certified remodeling projects that do no qualify for LEED. The GreenStar checklist and program will be reviewed during this class to make you an official GreenStar Rater.

Instructors
Jason La Fleur, LEED AP+Homes and LEED for Homes Green Rater

Lodging
Discounted lodging is available rooms at:

Must reserve before ….

Registration problems?  Contact info@alliancees.org or (616) 458-6733

Do you Qualify for a 10% Discount? Local chapter members below do!

  • USGBC
  • AIA
  • NARI
  • HBA
  • AIBD
  • HERS Rater
  • NGBS Verfier

Contact us to get your coupon code  888 LEED APH ext 1, info@allianceES.org

Sign up now

 

Figuring the MPG of a House

The Green Home Institute in GR verifies LEED certification for homes in all price ranges.

Jeremy vanEyk, left, of Cottage Home of Holland, and Brett Little, of the Green Home Institute, see value in building to LEED specifications and home energy audits. Photo by Jim Gebben

The Green Home Institute talks a lot about MPG — but it’s not referring to cars.

The automotive term has been borrowed to exemplify the energy efficiency of dwellings ranging from high-end summer homes on Lake Michigan to single and multi-family structures built or remodeled in inner-city neighborhoods in Grand Rapids and other Midwestern cities.

is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to be a catalyst for “sustainable market transformation” of residential construction through education, third-party verification and community partnerships. Its website states it is the Midwest’s premier LEED Residential, GreenStar and Green Communities Technical Assistance Provider, certifying more than 3,200 new and rehabbed projects, from single family up to an eight-story apartment complex. To date the organization has educated more than 10,000 construction professionals in the U.S. and Canada on residential green building topics and programs.

was started in 2000 in Grand Rapids by its president, Michael Holcomb, along with community leaders including Guy Bazzani of Green Buildings + Design, and Gayle DeBruyn, assistant professor and chief sustainability officer for Kendall College of Art and Design. The organization was awarded grants for green-building education programs delivered throughout Michigan and in 2005 became a Michigan Energy Demonstration Center. In 2008, the Wege Foundation funded its executive director position with a $33,850 seed grant to jumpstart LEED for Homes.

Executive Director Brett Little said the organization, based at the Inner City Christian Federation offices at 920 Cherry St. SE, has only three employees including himself, and a local board of 10 members.

isn’t confined to LEED verifications, although that is a major part of its work.

Most recently, it has been doing home energy and health audits for the owners of existing homes, he said. The Home Energy & Health Assessment costs $300 and results in a “miles per gallon” designation that is nationally recognized.

The assessments are done by a third-party home-energy audit professional. The audit takes from two to four hours. A detailed report to the homeowner identifies ways to improve the home’s energy efficiency. If the homeowner invests in any of the recommended changes, the auditor returns to assess the work for accuracy and quality.

The audit assesses the quality of the insulation, air leakage, duct leakage, the heating and cooling system, water heater, lighting, appliances, doors, windows and “solar gain/shading,” meaning the external exposure to the sun.

The ratings range from zero to 70 MPG, with lower than 20 MPG deemed a “gas guzzler,” while an MPG of 30 to 40 means “your home performs decently,” and higher than 50 is “a high-performing home,” according to Little.

When asked how the Home Energy & Health Assessment differs from energy audits offered by the major utilities in Michigan, Little said many utility company audits are “a quick run-through, handing out some CFL light bulbs, maybe some shower heads, and likely telling the homeowner to add insulation to their attic. We have had to go back and redo audits on some of the utilities’ (audits) because the information just was not useful to make good decisions.”

“Our audit is going to give the homeowner a nationally recognized MPG label for their home that will tell them or their appraiser (and/or real estate agent) how much energy the home is slated to use if it is operated by the average user. We fully assess the home in many areas and give the homeowners a sufficient plan to address low-hanging fruit” — remedies that are inexpensive. discusses the ROI on these projects, too.

“We also assess potential indoor air quality issues such as kitchen and bathroom venting and give the homeowner a radon test kit and follow up to ensure they use it. We also test for water leaks and help homeowners with water conservation strategies,” said Little.

He noted the audits “are entirely third party, as well. We do not sell any products or perform any work.”

Little said a utility company’s auditor may be a contractor who also may be trying to sell a job or product “whether or not it is right for the home. The utility auditor will come back and test their own work, but we come and test other contractors’ work and verify they did the correct job.”

can help plan a home remodeling project to qualify for MI GreenStar certification.

“We can help them with how to do that and educate them along the way, and train the contractor they work with, as well,” said Little.

“Our audits likely cost a little more than the utility audit, but you do get what you pay for. Around here there is this idea that audits are free due to a past governmental program. This has caused two major auditing companies to go out of business now that the money is all gone. We are trying to repair the market and ensure third-party auditors get the pay they deserve for the good work they do,” he added.

The Michigan GreenStar website has a photo and a report on Little’s own home, which was the subject of a retrofit to green standards. Brett and Laura Little started with the goal of achieving LEED Silver certification, but the extensive work that would have required was more than their budget allowed, so they opted for a Bronze level of green retrofit, with plans for more work in the future to reach LEED Silver.

Little said the cost of overseeing the LEED certification process at a new home is about $2,500.

Much of the consulting work does is with homebuilders and home designers and architects. One of its major clients is Cottage Home of Holland, which specializes in high-end summer homes on Lake Michigan. Brian Bosgraaf founded the company in 2000; he and his staff have now designed and built more than 80 custom homes, including 17 LEED-certified homes.

is a sponsor of Homes of Hope Michigan, which will build a LEED home in Grand Rapids that will be given away to the family of a military veteran. also is partnering with MI Solar Works and Eco Works Detroit to help get solar receptors installed on 6,000 homes in Michigan in 2014. The website states that 1,000 of the solar-equipped homes will be in West Michigan, and the solar equipment cost will be subsidized for those homeowners.

“And we’ve recently ‘greened’ our multiple listing services here in West Michigan and Southwest Michigan,” said Little. Real estate listings on the MLS now include verified “green” attributes for homes.

 This article was originally written and shared by Grand Rapids Business Journal on April 11, 2014.
Peted

Pete Daly

Pete Daly is a Grand Rapids Business Journal staff reporter who covers small business, banking and finance, food service and agriculture and government. Email Pete at pdaly at grbj dot com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteDalyGR

Indianapolis Restored Home Gets LEED Platinum & Sells Fast!

Elm St. PICThis home located on Elm St. in Indianapolis, IN was an abandoned space, built in 1910, that was bid on for redevelopment through the Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND) organization’s Transfer and Transform program, which seeks to reinvigorate the community

Elm St. B4 INT

Interior before

 

“William Wagnon of Green Path Homes  had been looking for an opportunity to do a LEED Platinum certified redevelopment on a house that could serve as an example of green building for contractors, home owners and a city in need of sustainability.” The house on Elm presented a perfect opportunity to showcase the economic viability of a green project as well as its added health and enjoyment benefits.

 

No subsidies or donations were taken to help the project along. “We wanted to do it as a market-rate project so that nobody could make an excuse for not doing it. That’s the point I wanted to make,” Wagnon said.

Elm St. B4

Exterior before

“The house now features around $7,000 worth of insulation, putting the home’s heating efficiency well-above most standards. The floor plan was changed to allow for a contemporary living style. Raised ceilings and other space improvements provide for maximum storage in the home. A rain garden now sits at the front of the house fed by a drain pipe from the roof. The backyard deck looks out onto a single-car garage, raised planters for growing vegetables and a patch of lawn.” Additionally, 100% of installed plants were drought tolerant further reducing irrigation needs. In total, the outdoor water savings plus the water savings due to the indoor installation of highly efficient faucets, showers, and toilets etc. results in a monthly water savings of 69% based on total water use. We were able to utilize the V4 Homes Workbook: Water Reduction Calculator to derive this number. A copy of the information is attached to the project profile at the bottom of this post.

Elm St. INT PICThe small 960 sq ft. 2 bedroom 1 bath home is located in an area with outstanding access to community resources such as public transportation. This well sealed home uses energy efficient appliances and  is expected to save 47% on energy bills. Insulated piping adds to the efficiency of this home. 

A central HVAC system equipped with an additional dehumidification mode adds to the health of the home along with the use of hardwood with a preference for FSC certified woods.

So much care was put into this home on Williams blog he writes … “Walter, who has does the exterior sheathing, rigid foam insulation and now the siding work is putting flashing tabs behind each butt joint on the siding.  These joints will all be caulked, but it’s just a fact that caulk fails in a couple of years.  But with the flashing tabs, any water that penetrates is redirected right back to the outside.LEED Label Elm

Brad nailed every shingle of the roof by hand.  Yes, it takes much longer, but he knows each one is set.  In building the soffit end caps, he cut fairly complex pieces so it could be 1 piece of solid wood, instead of having multiple joints that would require caulking.”

This project was the first residential home in the area to achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum certification.

Certificate(Final)

News Post Featuring this Project

http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/redeveloped-home-is-template-for-green-building/Content?oid=2567639#.UyCC7_ldWPM

Green Path Home Website and Blog

 

Download and share the project profile – PDF (Includes V4 water reduction calculator and EPA WaterSense Info)

Going Green by Creating an Eco-Friendly Bathroom Scene

Written by Chris Long

The concept of conservation in the bathroom used to be limited to shutting off the water while brushing your teeth and taking shorter showers. And while those lessons still apply (the former saving as much as 3,000 gallons of water annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency), our capability to be kinder to the Earth in the restroom now far surpasses being smart about turning the tap. The market is awash in energy-efficient fixtures and eco-friendly finishes that are also stylish selections for a bathroom-remodeling project. Below, I’ll shower you with some clever ideas for going green on everything from showerheads to vanity cabinets.

Eco-friendly Fixtures

1. Sink & Bathtub Raucets: Whether you’re retrofitting an existing basin or outfitting a new sink, look for faucets and accessories (such as an aerator) with the WaterSense label. This Environmental Protection Agency partner program certifies high-performing, water-efficient products — meaning you won’t sacrifice pressure for preservation — that use no more than one-and-a-half gallons per minute, a 30 percent reduction in flow from the standard, claims the WaterSense website. And incorporating WaterSense faucets also allows you to enjoy a trickle-down effect in savings; by utilizing less water (the program says as much as 500 gallons annually), a household also decreases demand on water heaters, in turn reducing energy consumption. Plus, many state governments offer rebates for the purchase of WaterSense and other low-flow items; check with your state’s environmental agency for information.

2. Showerheads: Since the EPA asserts that showering accounts for some 17 percent of a household’s water usage, sophisticated shower fixtures present a simple solution to water conservation. While standard showerheads pour out roughly two-and-a-half gallons of water each minute, the EPA only awards its WaterSense label to those that have been proven to spout no more than two gallons per minute. And just as when buying credited faucets, consumers needn’t worry that performance in WaterSense showerheads will be watered down. The EPA teamed with various stakeholders to test the products’ spray intensity and ensure satisfactory results.

3. Toilets: The EPA estimates that the average residence flushes close to 30 percent of its water down the toilet, with outdated lavatories using upwards of six gallons of water per flush. But dual-flush options allow users to select full or half flushes depending on the need (i.e., number one or number two). Newer models require 1.28 gallons per flush or less, a surefire way to keep your water usage out of the commode.

4. Lighting: Going green in the bathroom is a good thing; looking green in the bathroom is not. So be sure that the lights you select for your bathroom accurately reflect the colors of clothing, skin, and cosmetics. Seek out Energy Star-qualified LED fixtures, which boast precise color representation, steady light streams, and excellent brightness. (Beware of LEDs that are not Energy Star qualified, as these may fail to deliver on quality and efficiency.)

5. Ventilation: Moist air can lead to mold and mildew troubles that will leave your bathroom feeling less than clean, so be sure to protect your indoor air quality by properly venting that saturated space—this means ensuring the vent reaches the outside of the home, as opposed to just the attic, where moisture can also become trapped and lead to a mold problem. (In fact, the National Kitchen & Bath Association includes among its good practices guidelines specific direction to “plan a mechanical exhaust system, vented to the outside.”) Energy Star-qualified bathroom exhaust fans, such as those manufactured by Panasonic and Delta Breez, boast quiet and energy-efficient DC motors for high performance and long life. Some models, including Panasonic’s WhisperGreen LED and the Delta Breez VFB080D4LED1, also include an LED light feature for an eco-smart combo.

Earth-fresh Finishes

1. Cabinets: When selecting a vanity, look for wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which highlights lumber harvested from a sustainably managed forest. Steer clear of particleboard and medium-density fiberboard, which the EPA states can pollute indoor air with formaldehyde emissions. And remember that reusing an existing piece of furniture to  create a vanity base is a creative way to go green.

2. Countertops: Manmade counter creations have come a long way in terms of aesthetics, so think beyond natural stone. The company CaesarStone recycles manufacturing waste in a scratch, stain and mildew-resistant quartz that has been featured in LEED-certified showcase projects. Companies like Vetrazzo transform recycled glass from residential recycling programs, demolition sites, old windshields, and the like into stunning glass-chip countertops in a rainbow of colors.

3. Flooring: Both durable and easy-to-clean, ceramic tiles (especially those with a high recycled content) and natural linoleum flooring are ideal, eco-friendly choices for a bathroom floor. Manufacturers like Terra Green Ceramics and Armstrong offer a variety of green options.

4. Curtains & Towels: While most of us associate bathrooms with hard surfaces, don’t forget that they have a softer side in the form of window treatments, shower curtains, and towels. Be sure to select organic fabrics, which are produced with fewer pesticides and toxins than their standard counterparts, for these design accents. Consider swapping out your vinyl shower curtain, which can release airborne toxins, for one made of sturdy cotton (try Lifekind’s Certified Organic Cotton Shower Curtain, Are Naturals’ Seersucker Organic Cotton Shower Curtain, or the organic cotton prints from Pottery Barn).

While many of the eco-friendly choices on the market can be costlier up front, remember that the savings you will encounter on water and energy bills more than makes up the difference (often in a matter of months). To take time to set your budget, incorporate everything from labor costs and materials to fixtures and finishes to sales tax before diving into a remodeling project. (I also recommend adding on 10 percent for unexpected costs, extras, and upgrades.) And as with any bathroom renovation, be sure to budget your time wisely as well. A ceiling-to-floor overhaul could leave your family without those facilities for several months, so think through alternative places to shower and use the restroom.

Feel free to share the ways you’ve gone green on your bathroom scene!

Chris Long has been a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs since 2000 and also writes for the Home Depot website. Chris’ DIY interests include providing tips on bathroom renovations for vanities, sinks, showers and tubs. To view Home Depot’s bath vanities page, click here.

LEED AP Homes Credential to still remain under version 4

I just got this news in an email from the Manger of USGBC Education Partners, Sabrina Morelli – Fantastic news for the residential greenbuilding industry!

Email screenshot below

——

Hi Brett,

Well turns out the LEED AP Homes is not retiring and will be updated with the other v4 exams. The LEED AP Homes as well as the Green Rater certificate are good options for residential focus.

Sorry for any confusion. Let me know if you need anything else.

Sabrina

______________________________
Sabrina Morelli, LEED Green Associate
Manager, USGBC Education Partners
U.S. Green Building Council
Direct: 202-828-1152
Mobile: 202-378-0297
smorelli@usgbc.org

Further proof – Read the comment section 

V4 LEED APH Stays!

Minneapolis Market Rate Midrise 7west is LEED Certified

Washington Ave PIC

Sustainable architecture is nothing if it’s not deeply rooted in the surrounding community. Whether it’s sculpture by a local artist or an intimate concert at the Cedar Cultural Center, 7west (1800 Washington) celebrates the satisfying connections that come from Seven Corners living. For residents, LEED is a seal of quality, providing peace of mind that they are living in a home designed to deliver fresh air indoors and improved water and energy efficiency.

The 7west building has several green features that its renters find attractive. Each floor has recycling and organic composting available for the tenants. Green roofs and terraces provide relaxing greenspace, while a white membrane roof provides additional energy efficiency.

Washington Ave PIC INT.The building also features a passive solar design and high efficiency lighting. Tenants are encouraged to utilize alternative transportation with convenient onsite bike storage set in an easily walkable community. The apartments are located within a half mile of public transit services which provide at least 60 rides per week day. However, those that do drive vehicles regularly are provided garage space with continuous exhaust to  minimize pollutants that could leak into the residence and affect the indoor air quality. Inside the apartments Low-VOC paints hardwood flooring, and sustainable cabinetry provide for a healthy, natural, and sensible interior environment.

1800 Washington label

The Buildings landscaping was created with 100% drought tolerant plants. Rain barrels provide the irrigation needed to water the green roof and plants. As a former brownfield this lot has come a long way. Additional LEED points were awarded to the project for its density of 100.9 units per acre.

 That’s just the start. Sunny gathering spaces, private study nooks, yoga and fitness studios, and common areas with billiards, fire pits, and entertainment centers recognize that many residents need a respite from the stress of daily life. Innovative Chinese Feng shui design creates a positive atmosphere.  The LEED verification team included Jimmie Sparks, Rick Cobbs, and Jason LaFleur of Eco Achievers.

Download and Share the 1800 Washington Project Profile – PDF

 

Washington Ave PIC INT Shared

 

Asbestos Exposure and Abatement in Homes

Part of the green building revolution involves replacing harmful materials with non-toxic alternatives. The harmful products that need replacing often pose a threat to the environment and human health.

Asbestos is unique in that even though it is a natural material, it causes serious diseases and cancers in humans including lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma cancer. We often associate natural with healthy, but in the case of asbestos, natural is harmful.

Asbestos is a natural mineral and was used in thousands of products throughout the 1900s, and of those products, hundreds of them were used in homes and other buildings. Any structure built before the 1980s may contain products with significant levels of asbestos.

Though it generally takes heavy and repeated asbestos exposure to place a person at risk of developing a disease, asbestos products in a home could be harmful if they are damaged or become damaged.

Homeowners and home residents should become knowledgeable about which products could contain asbestos and should monitor their home for potentially damaged materials. The importance of hiring an experienced and accredited asbestos professional to perform inspections and abatement cannot be emphasized enough.

Asbestos Exposure in the Home

Asbestos exposure awareness begins with knowledge of the products that could contain the toxic mineral.

Home materials that could contain asbestos include:

  • Wall and attic insulation
  • Vinyl floor tiles and flooring adhesive
  • Roofing and side panel tiles and their adhesives
  • Paint and patching products
  • Wall products like drywall and millboard
  • Plumbing materials
  • Boilers, fireplaces and furnaces
  • Cement products

Asbestos may also be in a garage if a vehicle containing asbestos brakes is parked there regularly.

An asbestos material that is in good condition generally poses little threat of exposure. However, natural disasters, accidents and home remodeling can disturb the material and lead to asbestos exposure.

Asbestos material that is aging or damaged could pose an exposure threat and should be assessed by an asbestos professional.

Asbestos Abatement

It is not possible to identify whether a material contains asbestos through visual inspection alone. Sampling and testing suspicious material is the only way to confirm the presence or absence of asbestos.

Only a trained and accredited asbestos professional should sample, test and abate asbestos products in a home. The risk of exposure during sampling and abatement is too high for untrained persons to safely perform.

Do not panic if you suspect asbestos may be in your home. In most cases, home exposure is minimal and rarely poses a serious health risk. However, some people carry genes (genetic coding) that increase their risk of developing a disease following asbestos exposure. In rare cases, a single, heavy exposure has resulted in disease.

To avoid exposure in a home, educate yourself on the products that may contain asbestos and monitor your home for such products to see if they are in need of repair. Seek the advice of an asbestos inspector when you suspect the presence of damaged asbestos materials. If testing confirms that asbestos is present, hire an asbestos contractor to repair or remove the material.

 

Author bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.

 

Sources

Environmental Protection Agency. (2014). Asbestos. Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos

LEED Homes: New Energy Pathway & Program Market Share

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

LEED for Homes Registrations as of 2013 Q2

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

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

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

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

Why are we so excited? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see this report on Michigan

http://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/Green%20Building%20Market%20Brief%20and%20Snapshot_Michigan_0.pdf