Garfield House - in progress

YouthBuild Akron Ohio LEED Platinum Rehab

Akron Summit Community Action, Inc. (Akron YouthBuild) partnered with Saint-Gobain through the Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation with support from the Saint-Gobain family of companies, to complete a green renovation at 887 Garfield Street in PIC of house - afterAkron, OH.  Saint-Gobain was founded in 1665 to manufacture glass for the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France. They are the Worlds largest building materials company. Recognized as a 2009 & 2010 Energy Star partner of the year by the US EPA, Saint-Gobain earned the 2011, 2012, & 2013 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. The YouthBuild program started in 1978 in East Harlem, New York. The program concentrates on youths aged 16-24 who work full-time for 6-24 months while working toward their GED's or High School Diplomas while at the same time learning job skills by building affordable housing in their communities.

The Garfield Project is the first YouthBuild Akron home to achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum certification.  Saint-Gobain and its family of companies have donated a range of building materials and many hours of on-site support from CertainTeed Building Scientists to complete the green home renovation. The homGarfield House - in progresse features a heat recovery system and very efficient CertaSpray Closed Cell Foam Insulation which contribute to its energy efficiency. The home received a HERS score of 65 meaning that it is 35% more efficient than other comparable homes. In addition to energy efficiency measures the home incorporates several landscaping features that reduce it's irrigation needs. For example, drought tolerant plants were installed along with a slow-growing grass that needs no fertilizers, little mowing, and relatively little water. The home harvests rainwater from its roof. These aspects have accumulated a 59% water reduction due to the sites landscape architecture alone. 

CertainTeed (an affiliate of Saint-Gobain) donated many of the building materials. These materials contributed significantly to the overall efficiency and sustainability of the home. Grenite Engineered Stone Countertop's were used and constructed with up to Garfield House - After 185% post-consumer recycled content. Air-Renew Gypsum Board boasts industry only technology that removes VOC's from the air and converts them into safe inert compounds, once they are captured in the board they cannot be released into the air. This Gypsum Board also aids in the reduction of moisture and mold. On the rooftop, LandMark Solaris - Solar Reflecting Roofing Shingles were utilized. They reflect the suns rays and reduce roof temperatures up to 20%.

Garfield House - Label


Print and Share the Project Profile - PDF

Press Release

Video - Garfield Project

Saint-Gobain & YouthBuild Akron (Garfield House) - PDF

Elm St. PIC

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.


News Post Featuring this Project

Green Path Home Website and Blog


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


WI Platinum 2.5k Square foot Home averages $30 energy bills

Thanks to Jetson Green for sharing this awesome post! (Article written by Christine Walsh on Nov. 28, 2013)


Architect Virge Temme of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin recently received the LEED Platinum for Homes certification for a private residence she designed near Gills Rock. The home was built by Bay Lakes Builders, and the plans were based on the collaboration of all members of the construction and design team so as to ensure proper integration of all systems. The electric and fuel bills for this 2,600-square-foot house were less than $30 per month on average during its first year. This is only the seventh home in Wisconsin to receive the LEED Platinum certification.

The building process started with the excavation of the meadow where the house stands, while the top soil was stockpiled and used for final grading later. Once the foundation was complete, the foundation forms were stripped and the below-slab plumbing and electrical runs installed. The builders continued with laying thermal tarp to protect the home from freezing rains. This was followed by the installing of under-slab insulation. All the joints were staggered and sealed in this process to prevent air movement between layers. Furthermore, all the penetrations through insulation were foam sealed, which protects against cold seepage and potential Radon gasses.

The roof was then installed, using 16″ I-joists to reduce thermal transmission and to provide additional insulation depth. The I-joists were placed directly over the studs below and the framed walls with studs at 24″ on center to reduce redundant top plate, which also reduced the overall framing materials need. The rafters were then screwed and strapped to studs to provide additional protection from wind. All the intersections were then foam-sealed.

To provide a continuous envelope 3/8″ OSB was added to the under side of rafters. Double 2-4 plates were screwed below the rafters to provide an electrical chase, eliminating the need for roof penetrations. The builders also used ladder framing, which greatly reduced the amount of redundant materials at wall-to-wall connections. Double-wall construction also eliminated thermal bridging and provided space for additional insulation.



The house has insulation values of R-45 for walls, R-60 for the roof, and R-30 for ground insulation. Together with passive solar orientation and specially-coated windows to introduce solar warming, and which also feature overhangs to protect from summer over-heating, there is no need for a furnace or a boiler for space heating.

Other sustainable features of the home include:

- Sustainably-harvested framing materials
- Recycled/recyclable metal siding, roofing and insulation
- Drought-tolerant plants replanted around the home
- Rain gardens for roof runoff
- Only low- or no-VOC paints, adhesives and insulation were used to ensure better air quality
- Floors are made of concrete and sustainably harvested bamboo
- Only highly efficient appliances, lighting fixtures, and plumbing were installed
- The building process resulted in almost no construction waste

View LEED project Profile Here 





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Glenn Retreat

Glenn Retreat LEED Home has Innovative Blackwater Design Feature

The "Glenn Retreat" project exemplifies water use reduction both outdoor and indoor, with a 72% reduction in irrigation due in part by
photothe AdvanTex(R) Wastewater Treatment Systems manufactured by Orenco (R) that is a environmentally sustainable wastewater treatment technology that treats blackwater and greywater so well that the treated effluent can be re-used for subsurface irrigation (We achieved a additional LEED innovation point with this system). Along with Infiltrating Rain Gardens, Edible Forest Gardens, Extensive use of Native Drought Tolerant Plants and Eco Turf Grass on the outside and with low flow WaterSense certified toilet and fixture on the inside this project achieved almost every point under Water Efficiency in the LEED for Homes checklist. Our approach to handling waste water and storm water turned a negative attribute into a positive one; and created a drought tolerant and low maintenance landscape.

glenn label

The site’s soil composition has high clay content, and coupled with a high water table makes for a less desirable building site. Fill dirt and sand were added to the center of the site to elevate the house a few feet above grade. Drain tiles and French drains were installed around the house to channel water into swales and rain gardens which we developed along the north, east and west property lines. This watering system has proven sufficient to support the wide variety of plant life added to the property. Our system eliminated the painstaking task of cleaning rain gutters too because we didn’t need to install any. The high water table also presented a challenge for the septic system. We selected an advanced system  that uses a smaller drain field, and generates effluent certified by NSF International for subsurface irrigation. A native wildflower and prairie grass landscape is being developed on the septic drain field. Key Features Fabral Metal Roof (Energy Star) Exterior Construction is Advanced Framing @ 24" o.c. 8" of Agri based Open Cell Foam Insulation in attic. (R40) 4" Ridged Foam Insulation under the Slab. (R-20) 3" of Agri based Open Cell Foam Insulation on interior crawl space foundation walls. Exterior walls are Air Sealed with 5" Cellulose Insulation (R-22) with 1" Dow Styrofoam SIS Sheathing (R-5.5). (stops Thermal Bridging) James Hardie cement board siding. (with recycled content) MiraTec trim. (formaldehyde free, SCS Certified) 93% of Construction waste was diverted fro the landfills.

Watch a two part video series where we go into the homes and interview the homeowner and architect. 

See more pictures & details on Houzz

PDF project profile 

Sketch up drawings 




Metro Detroit's 1st LEED Platinum Gut Rehab Home

The Ferndale home is 45.6% more efficient in its energy use in comparison to an average 2,000 sq. ft. existing Michigan home.  The average is 3,948 kWh a month, while the Ferndale house used only 2,195 kWh. The overall cost for the electric use in the Ferndale residence is $74.56 a month, using 603 kWh, which is 34% less than the average, which costs $121 a month and uses 908 kWh. Heating for the Ferndale home uses 5.3 MCF and costs $23.85 a month, while the average uses 10.1 MCF and costs $127.46 a month. Altogether, the operation costs are 32% less than the average household to heat. 

*The project team attempted to get actual past utility bills to determine the success of the upgrades. However, they did not know who the previous homeowners were, and since, DTE and Consumers Energy have outdated privacy laws, they do not allow for the retrieval of data without homeowner permission.See full Ferndale Home Energy Report

The purpose of this project was to revitalize an abandoned home in disrepair, and through environmentally-friendly construction practices, to transform it into an energy-efficient home.  The house is 95 years old, had gone into foreclosure and had been vandalized while sitting empty, so it required a complete overhaul. Lee Purches, HP3 Group and project Green Rater helped ensure the quality and sustainability success of this home.   Lee connected the owner with Herzog Homes, which was willing to pursue LEED certification with some budgetary constraints. The goal of this project was to restore this old house, but also make it better through green building design and LEED certification.  The design team followed LEED protocol for local labor and materials, using renewable or sustainable products in aiming for Gold LEED certification.IMG_6158a

The result is an efficient, practical, and affordable home that is no longer an eyesore in an established neighborhood. This home is the first of its kind in metro Detroit, setting an example for others to invest in Green Homes and to restore existing homes rather than build new.    The home has been enlarged and now has a freestanding garage that also serves to capture water.  The house also has its own high-efficiency controlled irrigation system that evenly distributes water in the front and back yards.The backyard contains a 200 square foot vegetable garden, which includes fruit trees.  The garden benefits from the irrigation system and passive water collection to yield produce four to six months out of the year.  The indoor air quality 10 times better due to the ERV and high efficiency furnace.  The furnace is a two stage furnace that only runs at high capacity when necessary, and is 97% efficient.

The house is fully enclosed with open cell spray icynene insulation, from the basement wall all the way up through both floors to and the roof deck. The interior finishes, walls and trim contains almost no VOC other than the drywall glue and paint, which have low VOC ratings below 100.  New Jeld-Wen windows were also installed with a U-factor and solar heat gain of 31 for additional energy performance and reduced air leakage.

Take a tour! August 3rd! Sign up Here!

Lewiston Checklist

 Project Details
Project Type               Single Family
Conditioned Space   2,027 sq ft.
Bedrooms                     3
Bathrooms                   2
Lot Type                       Infill
Construction Type   Gut Rehab

 Key Features
Air Filtration              MERV 13
Insulation                    R20
Window U-Value       31
HVAC Efficiency        97%
3.5 Air Leakage Rate in ACH50
Backyard Garden


Ferndale Project Profile

Herzog Homes
Check out the gallery for some before and after pictures of this LEED Platinum home.

Sustainability Photo

College of Saint Benedict Senior Housing, LEED Platinum Certified

The Centennial Commons townhouses were designed to be a sustainable part of the colleSustainability Photoge's landscape. The 32 townhouses were intended to be at least LEED Silver certified. The townhouse were originally considered in order to provide affordable housing for the 90% of students that live on campus, particularly the seniors.  These townhouses were also built to represent the college's commitment to sustainability, as well as the first college student housing in the state of Minnesota to have any LEED certification. Each townhouse has been outfitted with as many locally sourced materials, furniture, carpeting, and wood, as possible. The exterior is decorated with native plants and landscaping. Each townhouse is also individually metered for teaching students about their energy consumption and sustainability.

The 2-story townhouses were designed for a durable 100-year life and to be as efficient as possible.  The townhouses provide housing for 125 students, accommodating 3-4 students in 4 bedrooms, with 2 full bathrooms.  Each townhouse also has two bathrooms, laundry room, living room, kitchen and front porch.  Also included in this project was the Commons Building to provide the community with a gathering space, study rooms, computer lab, kitchen and a multi-purpose room.

The townhouses are clustered for a compact development within half a mile of community resources; churches, libraries, convenience stores, fitness centers and shops. The building site was selected as it was not a habitat for endangered or threatened species, a wetland or public parkland. The townhouses also utilize outdoor LED lighting, non-toxic pest control and low flow plumbing inside.  During construction 37% of waste was diverted, documented, and recycled while  erosion control was also put into action in designing and installing the landscape.

One unique feature, according to Judy Purman, CSB's Director of Sustainability, is that each unit is individually metered for gas, electricity and water usage. Judy Purman also stated, "Each apartment will receive a 'mock' bill so that the residents will understand what their actual usage is,"  which in turn provides a "life skills learning opportunity. We're integrating an educational component so that they will understand what it's like to pay gas, water and electricity bills when they leave campus."

CSB checklist     Project Details
Project Type                Custom
Conditioned Space     1,492 sq ft. per townhouse,  11,936 sq ft per building,  52,167 sq ft total (32 units),  4,423 sq ft (Commonss Building)
Bedrooms                     3
Bathrooms                   2
Lot Type                       Edge
Construction Type    New Construction

      Key Features
Natural Lighting
Merv 8 HVAC Efficiency
Provides Community Space and Access to Amenities
Provides Housing for Higher Education Students
Teaching Tool for Sustainability


Project Team
DLR and Associates
Sand Companies Incorporated
-General Contractor
Judy Purman
-CSB's Director of Sustainability/Project Team Leader
NEC: Neighborhood Energy Connection
-Green Rater

CSB Centennial Commons Project Profile

St. Cloud Times Article on CSB Townhomes

College of Saint Benedict's Official Page for the Centennial Commons


Matchbox House LEED Platinum Certified – Ann Arbor

The project started out with an intent to design LEED certified which is reflected in its unconventional design.  The project was modeled after a matchbox and was designed to have four inner quadrants that slip past on another withing the out sleeve of the house, all on top of

2216 Hickman Ann Arbor, Michigan

a raised foundation.   The Matchbox's compact design contributed to it's LEED Platinum certification as there was less conditioned area to work on. The architect gathered information from other contractors experienced in green building practices in order to produce a home outside the norm. The result was distinctive, efficient, and compact home surrounded by natural, permeable turf minimizing the impact of the house on the surrounding environment.

The house has four bedrooms, 1,738 sf of conditioned space and a one car garage. It has received LEED Platinum Certification. It has a HERS rating of 47 and many notable features, including FSC wood, reclaimed trim from demolished Michigan barns in the region, no conventional turf (no irrigation) and low flow plumbing fixtures. The house has no attic or basement so upstairs rooms have dramatic ceilings that begin at 3’-0” and end at 16’-0” with an angle ceiling matching that angle of the roof.

No conventional turf or irrigation system was installed around the home, and all fixtures and fittings (toilet, faucets, and showers) are very high efficiency, reducing the site's water demand by 78%. The wood used in the cabinets, stairs, closets, doors, and upstairs floors are all FSC certified. The house itself is much more compact than a standard house, so much that the LEED threshold dropped by 10 points. The kitchen counter tops and decking are constructed are composite from recycled materials.

The home's unconventional design earned it 1st Place in Detroit Home Magazine Design Awards 2013 for Contemporary House under 4,000 sq ft.

Project Details:
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Clients: Azar and Hormoz Alizadeh (the house currently is rented out to tenants, it is not currently occupied by the owners)
Project Type:                 Single Family
Conditioned Space:      1,738 sq ft.
Bedrooms:                      4
Bathroom:                     3
Lot Type:                        Infill
Construction Type:     Custom

HERS Rating of 46, expected savings of 54% with a 5 Star+ Energy Rating
44% of Construction Waste Diverted from Landfill

Key Features:

  • 2 kw Solar Panel on roof, reducing energy costs by 18%
  • Wall Insulation R-Value of 29
  • Air Filtration rate, MERV 15
  • Reduced water demand by 76%Hickman checklist
  • Compact home for minimal site impact
  • No irrigation system or conventional turf
  • FSC certified cabinetry, stairs, closets, doors, and upstairs flooring.
  • Energy Star certified appliances and light fixtures
  • 2 ton heat pump/ERV
  • Appropriately sized 40,000 Btu furnace
  • Low flow toilets, faucets and showerheads

Project Team:
Brian Halprin (Green Building Services, Pllc)
Naseem Alizadeh (Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism)
Tad Krear (Landscape architect)
Cory Johnston (Structural engineer)
Matt Snider (Mechanical Engineer)

Photo gallery containing before, after, and during construction pictures:
The Matchbox House: Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism

Feature in Architect Lab's Online Magazine

2216 Hickman (Matchbox House) Project Profile


Matchbox House Certificate

Sumac Grove Pobst Residence LEED Platinum Home

Webinar: Journey to Almost Passive House & LEED Platinum Near-Zero Home

Finally it is here - after 2 years of filming and a big thanks to four Grand Valley State University Interns, 2 hours of video detailed in over 10 sections on the how and why of LEED for Homes and Passive House construction specifically to Sam Pobst's home.

Sumac Grove Pobst Residence LEED Platinum Home

Sam and some of the other high performance building professionals take us through many aspects: site selection/design, insulation, heating and cooling, passive building, water efficiency and renewable energy. 

What makes it Green? For starters, Michael Holcomb - President/CEO and owner of Home Inspector General has called this "the tightest home I have ever tested." It comes in at 0.44 ACH @50PA (for all you energy geeks). Michael has test thousands of homes and buildings in the Midwest in his 20 years of experience, so that is saying something.

Next, this project almost achieved Passive House standards! Sam worked with an experienced PHIUS rater "John Semmelhack" to use the advanced modeling software to design his house. The house tested below the air change requirements of Passive House but only made 7.20 KBTu's as opposed to the required 4.75 (energy geek talk). Sam's reasoning: "The primary driver of that cost was the building geometry. Since a primary objective was to build a barrier free home, we designed it all to be on one level. This meant that the ratio of exterior wall and roof area to the floor area was not optimal for thermal design (of Passive House). It was more important to us to have the barrier free design than to meet the PH requirements, though we came very close. The only changes we made from the original PH design was to reduce the thickness of the perimeter walls from 22” to 19”, and specify a window that was not quite as high performing as the one that would attain the PH rating." Sam told me that there was 99 year back on the window required to meet the standard (at that time).

LEED Label for Sumac Grove Sam Pobst LEED certified PlatinumLast, LEED for Homes Platinum Certification has been achieved. This
requires 3rd party onsite verification that proves through actual testing that the home is green.

This must have cost millions right? 

"We spent $167.00/Square Foot, but if you add in O+P, design fees, and my sweat equity, I estimate about a $200/Square Foot cost to construct." - Sam Pobst

•         Gross Square Feet                         2010

•         Basement Square Feet                851

•         Conditioned Square Feet           2547

•         Garage / Workshop                      621

•         $167/Square Foot  Hard Cost

•         $200/ Square Foot Buildable Cost

  1. + Overhead and Profit
  2. + Design Fees
  3. + Sweat Equity


Continuing Education

  • 2 GBCI – LEED Specific
  • 2 AIA – LU|HSW
  • 2 MI Contractor (Code & Green)
  • 2 MI Architect
  • If you need continuing education units for a license in another state, this course may apply. Please consult your state’s requirements.

Project utility data update and ROI data

These webinars are free to review. If you are interested in continuing education credits, you must follow the following steps:

1. Read the info above, watch the webinars for FREE and check out the Project Profile.

2. Take the 13 question quiz and score at least 80% to be approved. Please also post a comment below and help add to the conversation.

3. Pay the fee below if this is not taken as part of our GreenHome Associates series to get your certificate and CEUs. You must be a member to pay the reduced member fee.

Webinar Pricing

Further Resources 

Read back on Sam's progress documented on his Blog and stay informed as he monitors the home's energy use, durability, comfort, indoor air quality and water use.

NW Exterior View - Northbrook LEED

Northbrook IL to get first LEED Platinum home

NW Exterior View - Northbrook LEED

City incentive to bring 40% permit fee rebate
Preliminary Platinum LEED Rating
HERS Rating 40 (without PV)
Built to exceed Energy Star standards
21st Century Craftsman

“When we first started thinking about building our own home we knew we

wanted one that would be energy efficient, healthy and representative of our family. We appreciate the style and local history of Craftsman architecture, but also wanted modern touches like an open-concept floor plan, in‐home technology and environmentally friendly building techniques and products,” said future owners Aaron and Jenny Stash.

Enter Architect Michael Kollman and his company SmartHaus who will begin construction on the home in Northbrook this spring.  The custom, high-performance home is being designed and built to a LEED for Homes Platinum rating,

the highest rating given to homes when certified by the US Green Building Council. LEED homes are built to be energy efficient and environmentally responsible and are rated for health, comfort and durability by a rigorous third party review process.

SW Exterior View - Northbrook LEED

Why LEED for Homes?

“Why not?  The long term benefits of building an energy efficient, healthy home far outweigh the incremental upfront costs. Studies suggest the initial construction cost of a home represents only 11% of a building's total cost of ownership. Beyond financials, the benefits to our family and our community are immense. If that weren’t enough, the Village of Northbrook’s forward-thinking  Green Building Initiative ordinance made the decision even easier.”

Homes that are LEED-certified measure a home’s performance based on eight categories: site selection, water efficiency, materials & resources, energy & atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, location & linkages, awareness & education, and innovation. A home that achieves LEED certification has been designed to maximize fresh air indoors, minimizing exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants, and in our case uses 45% less energy– than a home built to the International Energy Code Council’s (IECC) 2012 code in Illinois.

Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits

Less energy use means lower utility bills every month throughout the life of the house. Beyond energy efficiency, achieving LEED certification is a mark of leadership in green homebuilding, clearly differentiating a home as among the best in the country. LEED is like the nutrition label that demonstrates in measurable terms how a home incorporates efficient features, healthy indoor air quality and environmentally friendly construction practices with the added assurance that the final product has been third party-verified and performance tested.

“This is our future. The jump in technology and science over the last few years has been incredible.  We can accurately predict how a home will heat and cool and maintain healthy indoor environments utilizing very simple concepts and applications.  Homes can be fine tuned to take advantage of site features, owner’s preferences and budget. We can design and build homes today that can produce as much energy as they need to operate.  That goes for deep energy retrofits on existing homes as well.  There are financial incentives in place to help defray some of the costs of emerging technologies as well.”  Architect Michael Kollman says.

The house has been laid out to take maximum advantage of both passive and active solar energy, natural ventilation, low impact and recyclable materials, high efficiency lighting and controls, in a structure that is very simple and economical to build. “Every material and system has been studied in terms of its environmental impact and life cycle costs.”

The envelope of the house is designed to require a minimum amount of energy in order to live and use the home based on the lifestyle of the occupants.

The home will have an innovative HVAC system that has been recently developed by engineers from the University of Illinois which uses considerably less energy than a conventional heating and cooling system and provides extremely high indoor air quality utilizing a CERV (conditioned energy recovery ventilation system) combined with a cost effective installation.

The home has been reviewed by and has been given a preliminary Platinum rating, if you are interested in learning more about the SmartHaus, check it out at

Sumac Grove

Greenest Home in West Michigan Certifies LEED Platinum

LEED Snapshot Main Photo

1 Hour Recorded Webinar Available Now - 1 AIA/GBCI

" In the 5 years I have been involved with and Regional Green Building Certified Homes, I think I can finally throw my 2 cents in the ring and call this the Greenest Home in West Michigan" - Brett Little, Executive Director

What make's it the Greenest? For starters, Michael Holcomb - President/CEO and owner of Home Inspector General has called this "the tightest home I have ever tested." It comes in at 0.44 ACH @50PA (for all you energy geeks). Michael has test 1,000's of homes and buildings in the Midwest in his 20 years of experience so that is saying something.

Next, this project almost achieved passive house standards! Sam worked an experienced PHIUS rater "John Semmelhack" to use the advanced modeling software to design his house. The house tested below the air change requirements of Passive House but only made 7.20 KBTu's as opposed to the required 4.75 ( Energy Geek Talk)  Sam's reasoning's  "The primary driver of that cost was the building geometry.  Since a primary objective was to build a barrier free home, we designed it all to be on one level.  This meant that the ratio of exterior wall and roof area to the floor area was not optimal for thermal design (of Passive House).  It was more important to us to have the barrier free design that to meet the PH requirements, though we came very close.  The only changes we made from the original PH design was to reduce the thickness of the perimeter walls from 22” to 19”, and specify a window that was not quite as high performing as the one that would attain the PH rating." Sam told me that there was 99 year back on the window required to meet the standard (at that time).

3rd, First Zero Energy Home in West Michigan (if anyone wants to dispute that let us know!). Obviously we can't officially call it Zero Energy without a year's worth of data but we will keep you all up to date to see it makes it. The HERS score is not 0 but it is 18 which  is the lowest in West Michigan with A home in Stanwood and hour north getting a 12. There is a lot of mis-information out there stating that  a HERS of zero is required to be "Zero Energy" but in practice we see homes scoring HERS of 35 and  achieving Zero Energy.

LEED Label for Sumac Grove Sam Pobst LEED certified PlatinumLast, LEED for Homes Platinum Certification has been achieved. This
requires 3rd party onsite verification that proves you the home is green through actual testing.

But, but... This project is in Lowell outside of an Urban Area and lacks community resources and connectivity. It's true, the one place that this house poorly scores is in location efficiency. You can find data to support that reliance on automobiles is more costly and has more CO2 emissions than very well insulated home. Currently Sam is using the home as his office as well  as his living space and so he does not have to drive to an office in a far away location. He can grow alot of food on the site as well and eventually add more solar and purchase an electric car to power it with all Solar.

This must have cost millions right? 

"We spent $167.00/Square Feet, but if you add in O+P, Design fees, and my sweat equity, I estimate about a $200/ SF cost to construct."

•         Gross SF                                            2010

•         Basement SF                                    851

•         Conditioned SF                               2547

•         Garage / Workshop                      621

•         $167/SF  Hard cost

•         $200/ SF Buildable cost

  1. + Overhead and Profit
  2. + Design fees
  3. + Sweat Equity

 PDF Project Profile Details 

Further Resources 

Read back on Sam's progress documented on his Blog and stay informed as he monitors the home's energy use, durability, comfort, indoor air quality and water use.

  • Contact with Questions Sam Pobst, BO+M, BD+C, Homes and ID+C, a USGBC LEED Faculty™
    ecometrics llc
    P. 616.897.4967 C. 616.648.7493