Tag Archive for: Single-Family Projects

South East Michigan LEED Gold Certified Home

‘It’s not that easy being green,” sang Kermit the Frog. While that’s often true when it comes to green building, it is definitely getting easier, say Lynn and Charlie Arnett of Grosse Pointe Park. The Arnetts and their four children, three of whom still live at home, recently moved into one of the Detroit area’s first new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, green-built houses.

The family had been living in a nearby 1950s house and needed more space. They thought seriously about building, but empty lots are hard to find in older, established neighborhoods such as Grosse Pointe, and they weren’t sure they wanted to trade in the frustrations of an older house (asbestos, lead paint, wet basements) for the different but equally challenging issues of newer ones (formaldehyde, medium-density fiberboard).Both have long been interested in environmental issues. Lynn worked in environmental law in Washington, D.C., and Charlie, a teacher, jokes that he recently found a button for the first Earth Day in a box when they moved.

After much thought and plenty of research, they decided to look for a lot where they could build an environmentally conscious new home. Ultimately, that search led them to a 60-by-175-foot corner lot where a condemned 1920s Tudor had been torn down.“We decided we wanted to walk the walk, not just talk the talk,” says Charlie of their decision to build. Doing so had its challenges. Green building has been in the forefront of the news, but mainly in the commercial arena. Green residential building is still fairly uncharted territory, say the Arnetts, especially in Michigan. Still, they were determined to make it happen.

Once they found their lot, they enlisted the help of Joel Peterson of Insignia Homes, a Grand Rapids-based builder whom Lynn had worked with on a former house and who had experience in LEED-certified homes. He led them to Wayne Visbeen, a Grand Rapids-based architect known for designs that successfully blend past and present.

The Arnetts wanted the house to be green but also to blend with the older Tudors and colonials on the block. “It was very important to us that the house fit into the neighborhood,” Charlie says. “We had the architect and builder do a Grosse Pointe field trip before we started.”Priorities included a vintage-style screened porch off the kitchen as well as a large open living space encompassing the kitchen and great room. The house would have six bedrooms and 41/2 baths and the kind of detail — wood trim, glass-knobbed doors, a stucco fireplace, exterior shingles — often found in older homes. Underneath, however, the infrastructure would be green.

LEED-certified houses include things such as geothermal heat, an air recovery system and a long list of environmentally approved materials, including insulation, windows, carpet, even landscaping. “Indoor air quality is very important to us, so we opted for no-VOC paints or finishes, and insulation made of shredded newspapers,” Lynn says. LEED certification is awarded in levels, with points given for each area of compliance. (For more information, visit the U.S. Green Building Council’s website at www.usgbc.org.) The Arnetts are waiting to hear if they have achieved platinum status, the highest level given, and have been investigating the idea of installing cutting-edge solar shingles, a product Dow is pioneering.

Lynn spent hours researching materials and contractors. They struggled to find cabinetry for the kitchen that was formaldehyde-free, ending up with an Indiana company. “You really have to ask a lot of questions,” she says. “It was a big education for us, too.”It took less than a year to build the Craftsman-influenced home. Now that the house is done, they’ve been working with Grosse Pointe Park-based interior designer Fatima Beacham and trying to fill it with “green” furniture — another area that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet.

“The problem with a lot of new furniture is that it is built with medium-density fiberboard that contains formaldehyde,” Lynn says. Formaldehyde has been linked to many health ailments. They admit there were times they were tempted to give in and take the easier way. “Staying on track and not letting ourselves be pressured to compromise was challenging,” Charlie says.“There were times I was tempted to cave, but Lynn kept me going.”

While building green is a bit more expensive than standard construction, tax credits and governmental rebates help, and prices should decrease as demand goes up, the Arnetts say. For their family, going green has been the right choice. “Once you get started, you want to do it 100 percent,” Lynn says.“When it comes to residential construction, LEED is still in its beginning stages. We’d love to be a resource for other homeowners. Hopefully our experience will make it easier for the next folks who want to do this. Even choosing a low or no-VOC paint for your next project is a good start.

View complete project profile here

”The Arnetts recommend the following contractors and manufacturers:

Architect: Wayne Visbeen (www.visbeen.biz)

Builder: Joel Peterson, Insignia Homes (www.insigniahomes.us)

Kitchen cabinets: Mutschler Kitchens, Karen Rozanski (www.mutschlerkitchens.com)

Flooring: Chelsea Plank Flooring (www.plankflooring.com)

Carpeting: Mohawk SmartStrand (www.mohawkflooring.com/smartstrand)

Custom cabinetry: Dutch Made Cabinetry (www.dutchmade.com)

Paint: Sherwin-Williams no-VOC “Harmony” paint (www.sherwinwilliams.com)

Toilets: TOTO Dual Flush Toilets (www.totousa.com)

Landscaping: James Leamon Landscape Design, (313) 407-8137

Khristi Zimmeth is a Metro Detroit freelance writer and Homestyle’s Trash or Treasure? columnist.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110218/LIFESTYLE01/102180306/Grosse-Pointers-build-certified-earth-friendly-home#ixzz1EOaEKWMz













“River Escape” Home Tour – Pending LEED Platinum

On 11.11.11 come see an affordable home that was built to be 88% more energy efficient than and standard new code built home. This home is a Zero-Energy home that is projected to be a LEED for Homes “Platinum” project. The home is also a finalist for Green Builder Magazines 2011 Home of the Years. 
Pending AIA Approval
Please RSVP with us at.
616.957.LEED (5333) or at
“River Escape” Home Tour

November 11th at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm
7121 River Escape
Stanwood, Mi.
Sponsored by
Eric Hughes of Image Design, LLC
Adam Eerdmans of Turtle Walls
Tim & Dawn Gruss Home Owners

The “River Escape Project”
Resting in Western Michigan’s vacation wonderland, this home is located near the Muskegon River in Stanwood, Michigan with river access, thus the project name. This home is a site specific, 1,267 square foot Passive Solar Contemporary Style home built with BuildBlock ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) from frost protected shallow foundation to the SIP roof. The exterior elevations of the home were designed with deeper roof overhangs, determined by using solar calculations, to both maximize and minimize the sun exposure based on the time of year. The exterior used two of our favorite products James Hardie FiberCement Siding and MiraTec trim. The interior of the home has stained concrete floor on the main level which makes for great thermal mass. The home was also designed with lifetime design principles and has zero step entries.
Part of the passive solar design is to have very few windows on the non-south sides of the home, to keep heat from escaping through them. That is why this homes attention to detail is spent on the Southside of the home, where most of the homes windows face south. The windows in this home are made by North Star (Canadian made) which uses a transparent low-E film between the panes of glass with a foam spacer to get a triple pane effect without the weight or waste of extra glass. The window U-value is .24 with a much higher Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) on the South windows. In the winter, the sun will warm the living space during the day and shine on the concrete floors which will store some of the heat gained, for gradual release. The roof overhang will shade the house from excessive solar heat gain in the summer, and west-facing glass is minimized to reduce cooling needs in the summer. ICF construction was perfect for this project because with ICF’s there are no concerns with noise and wind. It is wonderful to quietly contemplate the winter storms swirling through the open fields and feel pleasantly comfortable. The “River Escape” project is a Zero Energy Home (ZEH) thanks to the Passive Solar Design, 4.1 kW of Photovoltaic, Solar Hot Water and a 98% efficient boiler for the radiant floor heat and hot water backup. The home is also pre-wired for future installation of a Wind Generator. This home only uses about 600 kWh of electricity per month and has been generating a minimum of 20 kWh of electricity per day and net-metering backwards every day since the home was completed in June. The home was built for $142.00 per square foot (before the 30% rebates from the Solar Hot Water, and Photovoltaic systems) making it more affordable for the general public. Besides the LEED for Homes “Platinum” certification (this project scored 32.5 points above “Platinum”) this home received 5+ Energy Star certification and a HERs score of 12. This is the lowest score ever tested in the State of Michigan making it the most energy efficient house in Michigan. This home is 88% more efficient than a conventional code built home. The home is also ZeroStep “Silver” Certified (Lifetime Design or Barrier Free) from Disability Advocates of Kent County Michigan. In addition this homes toilets, faucets and shower heads are super low-flow for superior water efficiency. The home also has low-VOC paints, adhesives and finishes and uses recycled content for the flooring, foundation, exterior walls, trim and siding. Every possible piece of unused material used in construction was recycled.

Key Sustainable/Green Features
• Rain Permeable Gravel Driveway.
• Lifetime Design (Barrier Free)
• Zero step entries.
• Energy Star North Star Triple Pane Windows.
• Energy Star LED & CFL lighting.
• Energy Star Ceiling Fans.
• Energy Star Appliances by Frigidaire.
• SIP Panel Roof
• Frost Protected Shallow Foundation (with R-20 Dow Insulation beneath it.)
• BuildBlock ICF Construction (with 40% Fly-Ash)
• Advanced Framing (Studs @ 24” o.c.)
• James Hardie FiberCement siding (with recycled content)
• MiraTec Trim (formaldehyde free, SCS Certified)
• Central Vacuum System (Greatly reduces in-door air pollutants)
• Concrete Floors through-out main floor. (Colored in the concrete mix)
• FSC certified Bamboo Flooring on second story.
• FSC certified stud interior walls.
• No-VOC Paints and primers.
• Low-VOC caulks and sealants.
• Amish Built Kitchen Cabinets from wood within 5 miles from the project site.
• Dual-Flush toilet by American Standard.
• Low flow shower heads and faucets.
• Pex Plumbing.
• Radon Venting.
• Radiant Heat Through-out Home.
• Life breath HRV (heat recovery ventilator)
• Passive Solar Design.
• Solar Hot Water. (30% Tax Rebate)
• 4.1kW of Photovoltaic (30% Tax Rebate)
• Pellet Stove (Back up Heat System)
• Pre-wired for a future Wind Generator.
• Pre-wired for future battery backup.

By Eric A. Hughes of Image Design, LLC

Video: Green built LEED Gold in Michigan

Raymar Homes has completed and certified a LEED Gold House in Rockford, Michigan.  This video displays visuals of how many points were achieved.  Credits appear on the screen that correspond with visual measures of LEED points.

Raymar Homes – LEED Gold Certified


How do we ensure a home is Green?

Green living and environmental sustainability is proving to be much more than just a recent fad. More and more people are jumping on the environmental bandwagon, which has created more need for professionals within this field.  Recently, the American National Standards Institute recognized LEED AP Homes as the “most qualified, educated and influential green-building professionals in the marketplace” (ANSI). Because of the accreditation from ANSI, the demand for LEED certified homes and LEED AP professionals is expected to increase.

Building residential homes to LEED certification has become incredibly popular over the past several years.  A 91-unit housing development in Tacoma, Washington was the 10,000 home to be LEED certified.  The development was the first federally funded redevelopment project to reach LEED platinum status (10,000th Home).   On a more local level, the Kent County chapter of Habitat For Humanity has made the commitment to have every home be LEED Gold certified.  This decision is saving the families who reside in these homes an estimated $1000.00 a year on utility bills, making LEED the perfect fit for Habitat For Humanity (HFH LEED Commitment).

For those who are less familiar with LEED certification, they may be left wondering how exactly it benefits themselves, the environment, and their pocketbook.  LEED homes reduce allergens and triggers for diseases such as asthma and other chemical sensitivities.  LEED certified homes are also built with nontoxic materials, which lower exposures to mold and mildew.  LEED homes are environmentally friendly because they use less energy to maintain which reduces pollution from fossil fuel resources.  In fact, in a recent report from the Green Home Institute (), LEED homes in the Midwest use an average of 40 percent less energy than conventional homes ( Report). Building a LEED home can reduce utility bills by up to 51 percent and also increase the property value of the home (Why LEED).

For a resident in Minneapolis, choosing to have her home LEED certified was an easy decision. She gave three reasons as to why it was a no-brainer for her:

            -Easy to follow instructions in the LEED rating systems manual

            -Required green rater visits ensures that the project is meeting the standards of LEED certification                       

            -Utility bills are 65 percent less in the LEED home than in her previous conventional home (LEED Minneapolis).

While it can seem like a daunting task to make sure everything in the home is up to par for LEED certification, the United States Green Building Council is making it a little easier.  They recently launched a LEED Home Scoring Tool on their website which will give people an idea as to how close their project is to reaching LEED certification.  This tool is available free of charge and can be found on the LEED for Homes website (Home Scoring Tool)

Post By:

Katie Alman is a recent summer Intern at . She is completing  her marketing bachelors degree at Grand Valley State University.  She currently has interested in promoting healthy and affordable living and green building practices.



LEED platinum-certified home in Chicago is a showcase for stylish living

The total cost was $1.6 million. That may seem like a lot of money, but if you look at any other custom-built house this big—it’s 2,675 square feet on a double lot in Chicago—it’s going to cost at least that much. Incidentally, the green materials generally were no more expensive than conventional alternatives.

ELLE DECOR: Why did you decide to build a LEED platinum house?

MICHAEL YANNELL: I wanted to set an example. I had been very frustrated with the construction I was seeing in Chicago. There are so many green options, but nobody was using them. People assume it’s too cold, it’s too cloudy, for solar energy. I wanted to show it could be done here.

ED: So it’s a kind of demonstration house?

MY: I’m not saying every house should be like mine. I’m saying, look at my house, take one detail, and start there.

ED: To accomplish that, you have to be willing to let the world see how you live.

MY: After I moved in I began giving tours constantly—usually an hour long, and limited to ten people, because there were always lots of questions. We started outside the house, and I explained the macro design of the home and then went room by room. I think people have been surprised by how beautiful the house is on the inside. I don’t know what they were expecting.

ED: So, give us the tour.

MY: The house is divided into two wings, so every room has a southern exposure. I think that’s a huge benefit, to not have any room be always dark. I never have to turn a light on during the day. In the winter months, it really has a beneficial psychological effect. The north side, by contrast, has only a few small windows—you’d lose too much heat otherwise.

ED: The solar panels all face south.

MY: Yes. But it doesn’t jump out as a house with solar tacked onto it. One of the things the architects insisted on was having as many of the solar panels hidden from view as possible. That’s one of the reasons the roof has that V shape. All the panels are on the north side of the V, and the south side of the V hides them from sight.

ED: How much did all this cost?

MY: The total cost was $1.6 million. That may seem like a lot of money, but if you look at any other custom-built house this big—it’s 2,675 square feet on a double lot in Chicago—it’s going to cost at least that much. Incidentally, the green materials generally were no more expensive than conventional alternatives. The big items were the heating and cooling systems. But you can take tax credits for 30 percent of those. So basically I won’t owe income tax for the next few years.

ED: How did you choose the finishes?

MY: Every material that went into the house has some environmental story. The exterior is a combination of durable fiber-cement board and Forest Stewardship Council–certified cedar, covered in a cocoa soy-based stain. I love the contrast of dark and light.

ED: And the interior finishes?

MY: In the south wing the floors are a dark brown recycled-porcelain tile, which is very earthy, very soft. In the north wing the floors are made from scrap lumber, which would have ended up in a landfill. It’s walnut, with a clear coat that gives it a warm, natural feel. In the bedrooms, I chose dyed-clay walls. Besides looking good, they absorb sound better than regular painted walls. And clay also absorbs humidity, which is a nice feature in the summer.

ED: Does the furniture have the same kind of environmental credibility?

MY: Much of it is steel, which is recyclable. That’s one of the reasons we bought a lot of furniture from Knoll. The house has a midcentury look, so Knoll was right up our alley. All of the fabrics are Greenguard certified.

ED: What about the art?

MY: We chose the work of a Venezuelan artist, Radames, who works with Plexiglas scraps. I liked the designs, but I don’t like Plexiglas, because it has a high petroleum content. So we asked if he could work with 3form, which is an eco-resin product. He came up with seven or eight pieces for inside and a sculpture for the backyard, so it’s a green art collection as well.

ED: Speaking of art, the house has gallery reveals—those subtle recesses where the walls meet the windows and door frames.

MY: We used reveals throughout the house. I had never even heard the term before. It became known as the “R-word” during the design phase. It added to the cost, but it was really important to the architects. I have to admit, I appreciate how good it looks.

What the Pros Know

Architect Jonathan Boyer, of Chicago’s Farr Assoc., says the house is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes. But, he adds, he knew it would get the point across only if it also looked good.

• Be flexible: Most of the materials were produced locally—a key green principle—but when he needed an attractive cement board, Boyer had to buy a European product.

• Do double duty: The butterfly roof provides shading in summer and optimal placement for the solar panels. The V shape collects rainwater, which is used for irrigation.

• Exploit technology: “Thanks to LEDs, we were able to flood the rooms with light,” says Boyer, “despite using fixtures so compact you hardly see them.”

Click here to see the gallery of the Home

Written by Fred A. Bernstein • Photographed by Tony Soluri • Produced By Susan Victoria


Duvernoy Residence LEED Silver

This home dramatically reduces it’s HVAC energy requirements by using airtight building principles. This home utilized geothermal forced air cooling and geothermal hydronic heating to further reduce HVAC consumption.
-Whole house HEPA filtration system
-Heat Recovery Ventilation System
-Energy Star Lighting and Appliances
-Advanced Building Envelope Techniques
-Sustainable Building Materials

“We achieved exemplary performance in landscape design by
greatly reducing irrigation needs. We used all drought tolerant
species and grasses and installed a rainwater harvesting system.”

David Eifrid of Greenlife Building LLC,
acted as LEED AP and Team Captain on
this project. Alexandar V Bogaerts and
Associates, P.C were the Architects,
Dave Moran of Michigan Heat LLC was
the Green Rater. Steve Pozzi was the
superintendent with Trowbridge
Homes. Michigan Energy services were
the HVAC installers and David
Czesewski assisted with the submittals.

View/Download and Share complete project profile here

Gulyas Residence – LEED Platinum, Bloomington Indiana

The Gulyas Residence in Bloomington Indiana was one of the first homes in Indiana to receive LEED for Homes Platinum certification! Through the use of passive house techniques and additional sustainable design strategies this project easily met and surpassed the criteria for LEED. View the project profile here. Gulyas Residence, LEED Platinum – Bloomington Indiana

Frank Lloyd Wright home seeks LEED Certification

A speculative home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that has fallen into disrepair will now be an intersection of historic preservation and green building, as Eifler and Associates embarks on a LEED for Homes rehabilitation in Glencoe, IL.

Rendering upon completion

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Affordable LEED Home to be Built in Rockford

The first residential LEED project within the City of Rockford, Illinois is now underway and being constructed by Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc. (CCS).

Rockford's Affordable LEED Home

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