Little Residence Pearl Platinum Aiming for GreenStar – Zero Carbon

Brett Little, Program Manager at the GreenHome Institute, which operates out of home, decided to ensure GHI was also green as they help others.  Brett took his 2003 1-story walkout basement home in West Michigan to work towards achieving GreenStar Homes Certification & GHI Zero Carbon Certification.  The project received Pearl Platinum, is all-electric, and received a DOE Home Energy Score 10 out of 10.

Most importantly, Brett wanted to showcase how he used a traditional mortgage refinance to pay for sure this, paving the way for millions to be able to do the same through construction financing, mortgage refinancing, and/or home equity lines of credit.

Brett increased his monthly mortgage by $40 a month but will reduce utilities on average $50 a month to offset the cost and increase home value by 3%.

Added Home Features include

  • Heatpump Water Heater  – Rheem Prestige added in 2018
  • Ducted Air Source Heatpump for heating and cooling – Mitsubishi
  • Sealed exposed ducts with mastic
  • Panasonic Intellibalance Cold Climate Energy Recovery Ventilator ERV – Ducted into exiting Ductwork.
  • 3.96 kW of South Facing Solar Panels on the roof
  • Whole Home 5kW Battery
  • Level 2 Car Charger with recycled electric line
  • Active Radon System
  • 2 Energy Star Panasonic Whisper Green Bath fans up to 110 CFM ducted outside
  • Whole-home ducted Aprilaire Humidifier
  • Standalone whole home Aprilaire Dehumidier
  • Ducted quiet rangehood with five settings
  • Cosmos Smart Ventilation System (retired but works)
  • Multiple air quality sensors that detect VOCs, CO2, and PM2.5 include Awair and Sun Radon
  • Condensing all electric Dryer
  • Quiet Energy Star Dishwasher
  • Energy Star Clothes Washer
  • Water sense certified low devices
    • .5 GPM Niagara Aerators
    • 1.8 GPM Sink Faucet
    • 1.25 GPM Niagara Earth Massagers showerhead
    • .8 GPF Niagara Stealth Toilet
    • Dual Flush .9/.5 GPF Niagara Nano Toilet
  • Water leak detector and smart meter
  • On-demand water softener nonelectrical
  • UV Water filter
  • 5 Micron water pre-filter
  • Undersink on-demand reverse osmosis system nonelectrical
  • Sealed off old air intakes and chimney
  • MERV 13 ERV Filter and MERV 16 Furnace Filter
  • Motion sensors throughout the home with majority LED lighting
  • Turn off the switch for the outdoor streetlight
  • Water heater pipe wrap
  • New fire detectors with CO detectors added throughout
  • Exterior Door Sealants
  • Motion sensor nightlights added
  • Planted some drought-tolerant adaptive plants
  • Added 5 hooglekulture raised beds
  • Added 5 fruit trees
  • Henhouse and 2 hens
  • Floodfactor Report 1 /10 no risk
  • Well Draining Sandy Soils

More details, stories, and videos are being added, and operational energy, water, and quality updates are being added, so be sure to check back!

Aiming for Zero Carbon Certification 

See the photo above. I worked with To determine the 2022 carbon impact on my home and most of my travel. Determining carbon is more complex than just a straight conversion of utility bills like in the past. The reality is our larger grid operators are using different amounts of energy sources, causing carbon outputs at different times of the day. Therefore in the photo, you can see the lighter colors are more carbon-intense times of the day on average throughout the year, and the darker ones are cleaner. Each grid is going to be different. I am on the MISO Grid, which is fairly dirty, and still has a lot of coal.

So I plan to continue offsetting my carbon usage to be GHI Zero Carbon Certified for 2022 and the proceeding years. The other goal is not to invest in meaningless offsets, like foreign renewables or forest blocks that might burn up.

Instead, I am excited to work with Watt Carbon to determine offsets or Renewable Energy Credits from resources generated at the carbon intense times of the day or low-income housing electrification projects whereby there was no other way, say, for example, someone could install a heat-pump water heat. More to come on that later.

The first goal was to upload my data to Watt Carbon to determine this and continue to do so in the future. I am working on a way to automate this. Then it was to reduce consumption and then shift consumption to fewer carbon-intense times of the day, such as in the middle of the day in the summer when I use solar or there is more grid solar, or at night in the winter when there is more nuclear and wind on the grid.  I also purchased three blocks of Consumers Energy Solar gardens in 2022, which is factored into my Watt Carbon number and helped reduce my total carbon load.

More to come soon about what I ended up doing to make the offset. Stay tuned.

Project Team Details 

General Contractor – Brett Little
HVAC – Hendricks Heating
Water Heater – Moberg Heating
Solar – The Green Panel
Water Filtration – Gordon Water
Plumbing – Micah Perkins
Radon System – Radon Man GR
Appliances – Narawa Brothers & Home Depot
Electrical – Kleyn Electrical
Home Energy Score Assessor – Custom home energy

Project Basics 

Project Type: Single-Family
Square Feet: 1853
Bedrooms: 4

Project Certification Details 

Certification Programs:

GreenStar Homes Certification (Pending)
Pearl Platinum
Electrified Living Badge
Home Energy Score 10
Home Water Score 4.8 / 10