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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

Objectives

  1. Gain a basic understanding of the Passive House (PH) design standards for homes and products or technologies are needed to achieve it.
  2. Discriminate between LEED, Net Zero, universal design and Passive House objectives and how they interact.
  3. Learn about behind the wall thermal envelope strategies for a super tight and insulated home.
  4. Identify costs, ROI and payback on high performance home LEED projects

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. http://sumacgrove.blogspot.com/2013/01/certified.html

  • Sumac Grove certificateRecorded 1 Hour Webinar on the entire project – 1 AIA/GBCI 
  •  2 Hour GBCI approved Film Series documenting the project from start to post occupancy informed can be seen here for free

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. http://sumacgrove.blogspot.com/2013/01/certified.html

  • Sumac Grove certificateRecorded 1 Hour Webinar on the entire project – 1 AIA/GBCI 
  • Sign up for our mailing list  to stay informed on Spring 2013 Tours. Potential GBCI Credit

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

 

Ann Arbor Rehab, Green Building, Green Business

Ann Arbor Michigan, a hot bed for sustainable home development is at it again

with a LEED for Homes registered gut rehab that is on track to be Platinum Certified as well as net zero site energy. Dubbed the Rancho Deluxe project, this ambitious rehab will feature both the Atomic Zero Home and a new structure and the home offices of Urban Ashes, a small business owned and operated by Paul Hickman. This home will feature geothermal, occupancy sensors, 10 kws of PV, mostly locally sourced or re used products, storm water reduction, native meadow installed and more. The Urban Ashes Studio addition is rumored to be one of Ann Arbor’s first straw bale wall assemblies once approved by the city and the studio it self is an authentic sustainable business with a triple bottom line. The company utilizes otherwise thrown out city trees to build furniture and picture frames while employing transitional/disabled labor. The company was recently featured in a local West Michigan news story based in a made in Michigan edition

Despite Heat & Drought, Michigan LEED Platinum Home Stays Cool & Refreshed

“We installed our original cooling system in July 2010 and it has worked reasonably well, but over the last few weeks we’ve had a hot spell with daytime temperatures mostly in the upper 90’s and well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days. That’s normal in some parts of the world but in Michigan, we consider that HOT! Over two weeks of unusually hot weather the house reached 77 degrees at the warmest point when it was 105 outside, which is actually pretty good since we’re cooling the entire house for about 30 cents per day….The Systems total cooling capacity is very small however, so it is practical only because our total cooling load is very small due to the extreme level of insulation in the house, because our south-facing windows have carefully designed overhangs that block direct sun in mid summer, and because we use very efficient appliances that add very little additional heat to the house.

“Since we’ve had a hot, dry spell for the last 4 weeks we have been using a lot of cistern water for the gardens, and we’re down to about 36 inches or 4,300 gallons, out of a total capacity of 12,000 gallons. Hopefully we’ll get some significant rain soon to replenish our irrigation water supply, but we can refill it from the well if necessary.” – Jay & Liz McClellan.

Learn more at

http://www.brainright.com/OurHouse/Construction/CoolingSystem/enhanced.shtml

Wisconsin Passive House owner says drop on by anytime!

“I want as many people to come into this house as possible. Anyone who reads this can knock on my door and I’ll give them a tour. The whole point is to share and learn from each other, to take ideas from here and do them elsewhere.” – Sonya Newenhouse

With Carly Coulson as the certified Passive House designer. This tiny (968-square-foot) kit house has a treated floor area of 888 square feet (82.5 m²). This project sports local windows and Cardinal triple-pane glass, while the doors are Energate. The NewenHouse is wrapped in a jacket of cellulose – and similarly comes in well under the specific space heating demand.

Carly recently presented the project at the Hannover Passivhaus conference. Here are some of the project specs:

  • Space heating demand: 11.4 kWh/m²a (3.61 kBTU/ft²a)
  • Primary energy demand: 104 kWh/m²a (32.9 kBTU/ft²a)
  • Blower door: 0.51 ach50
  • Wall U-factor: 0.09 W/m²K (R-63)
  • Slab U-factor: 0.10 W/m²K (R-57)
  • Roof U-factor: 0.06 W/m²K (R-94)
  • (7,795 HDDs)

The project is also rocking a solar domestic hot water system (Velux) that is expected to provide nearly two-thirds of the domestic hot water needs, and a PV system for site net zero energy.

The project went through BRE in Watford, UK, for Passivhaus certification, is Energy Starcertified, and is expected to hit LEED for Homes Platinum after Landscape verification by the Green Rater Laura Paprocki.

Total cost for NewenHouse – including solar DHW, PV, and accessory structures – is a whopping $173/sf. If there was a LEED Titanium, this über-tiny Passivhaus in an “extreme” environment would surely qualify.

Newenhouse, who aptly describes herself as an eco-entrepreneur, is also founder and president of Community Car LLC in Madison, and just sold the Madison Environmental Group, a business she founded 13 years ago, to an employee. In the next year, she plans to launch a business selling three house designs — a 500-square-foot one-bedroom, an 800-square-foot two-bedroom, and a 1,000-square-foot three-bedroom. An option for a detached stuga, Swedish for “cabin,” includes storage space, a root cellar, sleeping loft, sitting area and wood stove. With her business, Newenhouse says she is trying to bring together three movements: the green building movement, the small house movement and the sustainable- or simple-living movement.

A brief overview of her kit house can be found at http://www.madisonenvironmental.com/documents/NewenHouseHandout_10%2010%2011%20(3).pdf

You can contact Newenhouse at 608-220-8029 or Sonya@madisonenvironmental.com. A link to her blog is on the a at madisonenvironmental.com. Or if you’re planning to drop in, which she says she welcomes, she lives at 422 Hickory St. in Viroqua WI.

Want to learn more about Passive House features & LEED?   is hosting a free webinar of another Homeowner’s journey in Michigan who attempted passive house & is on track for LEED Platinum. Missed it? It will be recorded and a 2 hour video series on it’s construction & post occupancy living will be out by Fall. https://greenhomeinstitute.org/education-and-events/a-journey-to-passive-house-leed-homeowners-tale-free-webinar/

This article is a mash up between Joe Orso of the Lacrosse Tribune and Mike Eliason of Green Building Advisor. Their stories can be found here

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/joe-orso-building-for-the-future/article_b4265ffc-709d-11e1-8457-001871e3ce6c.html

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/cold-climate-passivhaus-construction-costs?utm_source=email&utm_medium=eletter&utm_term=energy-efficiency&utm_content=20120606-2012-iecc-specs&utm_campaign=green-building-advisor-eletter

 

Sheltered: Underground & Off the Grid.

Adam Bearup of Hybrid Homes, past board member and builder of many of West Michigan’s earlier LEED for Homes projects is presenting a unique northern Michigan project. He will also be debuting is brand new book. More details below or catch the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7xoMIgEB-Y&feature=youtu.be

Homeowner of 1st LEED certified home in Ann Arbor tells his success story

** Update 9/15/2013 – This home is about to go back on the market – If you are interested is learning more now please contact the homeowner below.

Scott Phillips, Associate at The Inovo Group and homeowner of Ann Arbor’s 1st LEED Certified Platinum Home is a passionate blogger about the success of green his certified home. Scott gives us a unique perspective of his home that was certified back in 2008.  Beyond the requirements of LEED, Scott has installed 15kWs of Sunpower PV panels on his house and they have  been near net-zero energy over the five month period since the install.

This video is a description of the benefits of living in a green home by the homeowners of 723 Spring Street, Scott & Linda Phillips.  They discuss the positive life-style changes as well as the advantages of “living local” near down-town Ann Arbor.  Scott and Linda talk about needing fewer cars, water conservation, indoor air quality and their aspiration to be a net-zero energy home soon. 

“The project team started with a broad set of goals. Since these were spec homes, they needed to have market appeal – more square footage than the smaller homes in walking distance to downtown. At the same time, they needed to minimize footprint so that the lot would have lots of green space and areas for water infiltration. By building up and taking advantage of the long East/West axis of the lot, each home would have roof space to hold enough

solar panels to go net-zero. By creating open floor plans, the small footprints of the homes would be spacious and feel larger. Durability and excellent thermal performance would be addressed through a combination of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). The HVAC systems in the house would augment that performance and use the least amount of energy for the structure. To the extent possible, the significant non- invasive trees on the lot would be preserved. One last goal was to have the home fit in the neighborhood of older homes. By staggering the homes, we created more solar-gathering opportunities, and decreased the mass of the homes at the street. This helped the homes appear to be in scale, and by designing for the Victorian era, we were able to build in details that were similar to surrounding homes.”

“The location of our homes, downtown Ann Arbor, contributes significantly to the owners being able to live a low-carbon and healthy lifestyle. The homes are also very tight, and our duct leakage was virtually zero when tested before drywall. Good low-flow water fixtures and recirculating hot water save operational costs, as does the geothermal system. South side windows are 3 times the area of north-facing windows, and an ERV keeps the air fresh when the windows are closed.”

Builders: Meadowlark 

You can follow along the journey and continued green success of the home at the follow websites…

The web-enabled Enphase Enlighten Monitoring constantly collects real-time PV system data transmitted from the PV system.

723 Spring St Ann Arbor Solar Panelshttp://723springstreet.com/enphase-enlighten-monitoring-system-provides-real-time-pv-information/

Illinois Net-Zero-Energy masterpiece producing 40 percent more energy than it consumes

Starting with an eco-conscious dream for a truly green home transformed owner Michael Yannell’s Chicago residence into a $1.6 million, two-story 2,675-square-foot, four bedroom and two-bath Net-Zero-Energy masterpiece, producing 40 percent more energy than it consumes.

Completed in 2009, it is not only Chicago’s first LEED Platinum-certified home, but it has scored higher than any other LEED-certified project in history. Architect Farr Associates, builder Goldberg General Contracting Inc. and engineering MEP firm dbHMS created this urban infill project to utilize aspects of alternative energies through passive solar, solar grid technology, a greywater system and closed looped geothermal heating and cooling components. According to owner Michael Yannell, the main goal of this project was to create a more energy- and water-efficient, environmentally conscious place to live and to set an example by building a home as sustainable as possible. Incidentally, the green materials generally were no more expensive than conventional alternatives.

This Net-Zero-Energy residence was built using the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED for Homes Pilot Program regulations. In order to earn the coveted LEED Platinum-certification, a project must meet the 100-point requirement, in which the Yannell residence scored 115.5. According to Net-Zero statistics, the Yannell residence generates 18,000 kWh/yr and uses only 12, 689 kWh/yr, earning the Yannell property an approximate $52,000 in tax credits in 2008-2009.

According to Jonathon Boyer, principal and director of architecture for Farr Associates, the permit and design processes were a challenge from the beginning, but thanks to help from a hand-picked team, deadlines were met and the project was a success.

“We put together a team of engineers, contractors, and a landscape architect, and the entire project was a team effort,” Boyer said. “Building Net-Zero-Energy is very difficult, and it requires cooperation between all components and consultants. We believe we’ve broken the sound barrier with this house, especially in the Chicago area.”

This being the first LEED-certified home came with obstacles along the way. According to Boyer, by creating new systems such as the greywater system, which recycles water used from the washing machine for the toilets, it was tricky trying to solidify the permit process. It has opened up new options for Chicago to consider when building more sustainable homes.

“It was a learning process, the city of Chicago was open to it. We didn’t have any hard and clear standards in the city for permitting this kind of system,” Boyer explained. “As a result of this house, the city of Chicago Committee of Standards and Tests is adopting a new state / city code for rainwater / greywater reuse. “We were pioneers and induced the city to think about changing permits to use more sustainable elements into the residential market,” Boyer said.

Other than utilizing alternative energies, the Yannell residence’s modern design integrated into the traditional neighborhood fuses form with function in a dense infill space. The home was built on a recycled lot where the previous building could not be salvaged. Boyer explained that typically energy-efficient homes are bland and lack style, but in this case, the owner and the building team wanted something well-designed and unique.”He [owner, Michael Yannell] wanted

something aesthetically compelling and functional,” Boyer said.

The floor plan is designed as a dual-wing connected by a foyer, which acts as an entry and passageway, both equipped with south-facing windows to utilize natural light and garden views. The positioning of the wings help compete with the Midwestern climate year-round. With temperatures ranging from the high 90s in the summer to blistering zero-below winters, it was crucial to find the most sustainable design possible. Each wing has a uniquely shaped multi-functional V-shaped green-roof designed for stormwater management and for concealing the 48 photovoltaic grids on the home. “The

butterfly pattern roofs are designed to screen the solar panels from view, while providing an ideal angle for the panels to harness the sun’s energy,” Boyer said. Although the Yannell residence has received the highest LEED score, the materials it took to achieve the title are not unattainable for other eco-conscience projects. According to Boyer, “LEED for Homes is less than $3,000 for certification.” In this case, it assisted in the construction process by acting as a detailed guide when installing aspects such as air quality, water systems and when planning the positioning.

Although there is no set specific standard definition for a Net-Zero- Energy home, Boyer said that there are other homes out there that claims to be Net-Zer-Energy, but many have only lowered their energy consumption. Only the Yannell property has the data to back it up. According to Principal of MEP firm dbHMS, Sachin Anand, “It’s [the Yannell residence] the future of housing and power generation where each home is a greenhouse emission-free power plant.”

View LEED for Homes Project Profile 

http://www.elledecor.com/image/tid/5950

Photography By Christopher Barrett. Evan Lancaster is an editorial assistant at Green Homebuilder magazine. He may be contacted at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Built for the Future. The Yannell residence in Ravenswood, Ill., a traditional neighborhood outside of Chicago, breaks barriers of traditional homebuilding by perfecting green practices. From http://www.greenhomebuildermag.com/fall42.php

Saranac McClellan Home goes platinum + zero energy in West Michigan

This 3-bedroom home with an attached 2-bedroom mother-in-law cottage provides living, workshop and home-office space for the homeowners and their mothers. It features barrier-free design throughout with zero-step entry, low thresholds, roll-in showers, grab bars, and knee-space under sinks and cooktops.

Go here to see an interactive website of the home with data on energy use compared to energy captured through PV

The super-insulated shell uses double-stud wall construction with 24,000 pounds of recycled cellulose insulation in the walls and attic, and a 6-inch layer of reclaimed foam insulation under the stained concrete floor. Heat from six flat-plate solar collectors is stored in an insulated 2,500-gallon water tank, which warms the floor and also provides most of the heat for domestic hot water.

High-efficiency wood stoves make up the balance of winter heating needs, and a small electric backup heater maintains temperatures when necessary. The home is designed to produce more electricity than it consumes on an annual basis.

The home has no lawn and is surrounded instead by gardens. The steel roof collects 2,000 gallons per inch of rainwater, which is stored in an 11,000 gallon cistern for garden irrigation and flushing toilets. A root cellar built into the hill behind the house provides zero-energy cold storage of fruits and vegetables.

As of October 2010 the Jay & Liz McClellan home officially earned a LEED Platinum rating, which is the highest of 4 levels of certification offered by the USGBC. They achieved a HERS index of 20, which one of the best in the state of Michigan.

This summarizes our energy production and consumption for calendar year 2011.Ing Label Saranac

Statistics

Solar electricity produced: 6033 kW h (16.5 kW h per day)
Electricity consumed: 6150 kW h (16.8 kW h per day)
Non-heating: 5350 kW h,  heating: 800 kW h
Net electricity deficit: 117 kW h (-2%)

Discussion

“Our first 12-month report started April 1 2010 when we first activated the PV system and went through April 1 2011, but this report covers calendar year 2011 so there are a few months of overlap. For calendar year 2011 we fell just short of our goal to produce more electricity than we consumed, with a net deficit of 117 kW h for the year. Compared to our first 12 months of operation, average daily production dropped by 0.3 kW h but consumption increased 1.8 kW h. Some of that is due to having an additional family member living here since mid-year, and some is due to adding an upright freezer that uses about 1 kW / day.”

“Below is a graph showing the inside (red) and outside (blue) temperatures that we recorded throughout the year. Overall the house was very comfortable, with just a few days in the upper 70s during some hot summer weather when allergies made us reluctant to open up the house at night since our ventilation system filters out pollen from the incoming air.”

“The graph below shows the heat storage tank temperatures over the year. The big gap is when we drained the tank due to a leak, and we were able to get the tank warmed up again in the fall but not to the degree we would have liked.”

Follow their blog at http://brainright.com/