ZeroStep Certification

Environmental Sustainability () are joining forces to take, ZeroStep™, a certification for home and building accessibility, beyond its current multi-state capacity to influence home construction over the rest of the country.  The ZeroStep™ standard is based in universal design which, according to DAKC Executive Director, David Bulkowski, J.D., is “an approach to creating environments and products that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible.”


 Twenty percent of Americans have accessibility needs and that number is growing.  ZeroStep ™ helps to influence the design, development, construction, and use of new and existing homes through training, education, design review and third party verification/certification of proper construction.

Sign up

Zerostep 1.0 is now available for plan review and plan certification.  Please review the program Guidelines & Checklist and then Register your project here by answering a few quick questions. From there we will follow up with you and give you online access to submit your plans.


ZeroStep 2.0 Development is underway and will include not only Universal Design but opportunities and guidance on Aging In Place, ADA, Assistive Technology, Visibility and other necessary accessibility issues. Be on the look out for program upgrade by Spring 2014.

Questions? or 616 458 6733 ext 1

See ZeroStep in Action – Rosemarie Rossetti from the Universal Design Living Laboratory has 1 hour recorded webinar that takes you through her ZeroStep Certified Gold Home in Columbus Ohio and explains the thought behind the design and construction. This is a free webinar worth 1 AIA/GBCI/Nari Green & Potential State Contractor CEU. 

In the News.

featured in Chicago 7 News helping make a home more accessible and therefore sustainable:  

ABOUT ZeroStep ™

ZeroStep™ takes universal design for homes, which is the art and science of creating environments that are attractive, marketable, and user friendly for people of all ages, desires, and abilities, to the next level with the intentional accommodation of people’s needs for their total life span.  As people’s needs change, their home remains accessible and family friendly.

The value of ZeroStep™ is its applicability to commercial buildings, retail spaces and even neighborhood design because it just makes good sense.  Joanne Feutz, a co-author of the ZeroStep™ Guidelines, describes the value as:

“For an architect, builder, and developer, the ability to advertise a home as “ZeroStep™ Certified” and use the ZeroStep™ logo says that you are not only about quality homes, but also about responsible and sustainable building.  ZeroStep™ universally designed homes are a personal or company mindset, philosophy, and choice exceeding the standard perceptions of quality to include comprehensive home designs that enhance all stages of life for everyone.

 For the home owner or home buyer, ZeroStep™ Certification means the home not only meets, but exceeds current standards for residential construction.  It also means they can expect a return on their investment because the home addresses not only today’s needs but tomorrow’s needs, as well as saving costs in remodeling or possibly relocating.

“A ZeroStep™ Certified Home is truly a home for a lifetime,” says Renee Thompson, a co-author of the ZeroStep Guidelines.  She built a ZeroStep home in 2006 for her young growing family.  “I love our ZeroStep home because it is first and foremost family friendly.  It accommodates our ever changing stages of life very cost effectively from babies in strollers, teens on crutches, mom recovering from surgery to grandpa in his wheelchair.  I’ve come to realize that people do not notice our home has ZeroStep entries until they need it.  That’s when they realize the true value of ZeroStep.   We chose ZeroStep because we believe it is the smart way to build.  Why wouldn’t you build a home that works for you and your family both today and in the future?”

Consumers Believe Green Certified Homes have More Value

“This Consumer Green Preferences Survey, conducted by Green Builder® Media, is aimed to understand the sustainable lifestyle preferences, attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing patterns of adults aged 35-55 with an active and healthy lifestyle who are interested in sustainable living. The survey was fielded from March 11-31, 2013, with a sample size of 582 adults. Respondents were 67% female/33% male; 85% between the ages of 31-60, spread equally throughout the country; 81% are homeowners, 60% of whom believe they live a green life. ” Certified Green Homes are More Valuable

“Respondents also realize that a green home is more valuable: 85% of respondents thought highlighting the energy efficiency features of their homes would help their house sell faster and 87% thought showcasing the durability of the products in their home would positively impact a home sale.”

Looking for practical advice on how to value you a green home?  Complete this form and give it to the appraiser! Youtube video explains Green Appraisals

If you are looking to learn more about Green Certified Homes in the Midwest and how you can get involved, give us a call 616 458 6733 ext 1 or has 7 years of over 1,500 certified green homes in the Midwest.

Both of these charts and quotes come from a big thanks to Green Builder Magazine.  Learn more–Green-Life-Wanted#.UXVeVbVHSSp


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


  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.

  • 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

PHIUS+ Passive Certification for Building – Recorded Webinar – CEUs

PHIUS+ Certification for Building Projects is the only voluntary certification program on the US Market at an affordable cost that requires both: a thorougPHIUS_low resh third party review of the design and energy/hygrothermal modeling of a project as well as a third party verification of the actual implementation on site through expert trained PHIUS+ RESNET Raters. A successful project earns the PHIUS+ Certified passive house or building plaque/certificate as well as the DOE Challenge Home and Energy Star labels.

GBCI / AIA – Recorded webinar instructions below 

Learning Objectives:

1) Understand why Quality Assurance is essential to verified performance

2) Learn about the pre-certification process and what is required for the design review

3) Learn about the onsite verification performed by a Certified PHIUS+ Rater

4) Learn about the collaboration and endorsement by the DOE challenge Home program

Review the Webinar here 

Presenter Katrin Klingenberg

Co-founder and Executive Director of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS)
Katrin Klingenberg

Katrin Klingenberg is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). PHIUS promotes the wide adoption of passive building principles in North America through specialized consultant training and certification, project and product certification, and educational efforts for building professionals and the general public.

Ms Klingenberg designed and built the very first home built in the United States using the European standard and design specifications in 2002-2003. She has designed and consulted on numerous passive projects since across North America’s varied climate zones and has made proposals for the possible refinement of current passive house standards to North American climate zones. In addition to her executive role she is the lead instructor for PHIUS Certified Passive House Consultant training. In that role she directs curriculum. She also directs the technical and research programs of PHIUS. She holds a Masters Degree in architecture from Ball State University and is a licensed architect in Germany.

In order to be approved for GBCI/AIA you must follow the below steps

1. View the Audio/Visual Recording Here 

2. Complete Survey + 10 Question Quiz and get a passing score of 80% 

3. In order for CEUs to be processed we will need a  small donation based on what value you found on the course. As a 501(c)3 charitable organization (view our details), we deliver green building education courses throughout the Midwest at minimal cost and at no profit. Please support us to help keep these going. Your donation to the Green Home Institute may be tax-deductible. Please check with your accountant or tax attorney for details.

Quality Assured HVAC Training – ESV3 – High Performance Professional

QAD HVAC ESV3 AE has Partnered with Advanced Energy To help  HVAC contractors Qualify as High Performance Home leaders. Those installing systems in ENERGY STAR qualified homes are need to ensure are properly trained and qualified to perform HVAC QI services, EPA is requiring that contractors:

  1. Document that they possess the knowledge, skills, abilities, and tools (e.g., through training, work experience, and/or company policies) to effectively deliver the services required in the ENERGY STAR HVAC QI checklist; and
  2. Be credentialed and subject to oversight/quality assurance by an independent, third-party organization.

 Cost: $100 – $350 depending on location*

Other Fees (1/2 – 1/3 the cost of ACCAs program)

  • $199 Application Fee
  • $299 per year renewal fee
  • $35 per job up to 50 jobs
  • less for more than 50 jobs

Why Become Qualified High Performance Energy Star Version 3 Contractor


  • Scalability – whether you are working on one house or 5,000, our program offers scalability to fit your needs.  The primary fee associated with our program is a per-unit quality assurance review process, meaning that you only pay for what you use.
  • Technical assistance – if you find yourself struggling while out on an install or designing a duct system, Advanced Energy is here to help you.  As a participating contractor, you have easy access to the technical resources you need to ensure quality work on your ENERGY STAR installations.
  • Contractor development – our program is more than just a certification, we strive to make you better. If you think your business could use some additional help, or if the program’s standards are not being met, hands-on training and consulting will be provided by program staff to get you up to speed. We can also help you put the policies and procedures into place to ensure quality installation to help you continue working on ENERGY STAR jobs.
  • Streamlined ENERGY STAR quality assurance process – we have automated the reporting process making it quick and easy to track your progress and view all of your ENERGY STAR jobs in one place.
  • Click here to view or download our Program Brief for HVAC Contractors.

HVAC Quality Installation Oversight Organizations (H-QUITOs) are the EPA-recognized independent, third-party oversight organizations that establish the required credentialing programs and provide oversight/QA activities for HVAC contractors who install systems in Version 3 ENERGY STAR qualified homes.


Event Title / Location

Mon, Apr 29, 2013
8:15 AM – 5:15 PM
Quality Assured HVAC Training – ESV3 – High Performance Professional 
WARM Training Center
Detroit MI
Tue, Apr 30, 2013
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Energy Star Version 3 for HVAC Contractors – Get Credentialed 
Jackson Systems
Indianapolis IN
Tue, Apr 30, 2013
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Quality Assured HVAC Training – ESV3 – High Performance Professional 
Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC)
Madison Wisconsin

What the H-QUITO Does

As an H-QUITO, Advanced Energy is required to:

  • Develop and maintain a credentialing program for qualified contractors;
  • Provide general orientation training for contractors on the ENERGY STAR Version 3 guidelines;
  • Maintain a database and a publicly-available, online list of credentialed participating contractors;
  • Conduct periodic quality assurance of participating contractors;  and
  • Develop and maintain a participating contractor dispute resolution process that includes procedures for investigation of complaints, contractor probation, dismissal, and appeals.

More From the GBA Blogs – The 7 Biggest Opportunities for HVAC Contractors

expands and fills ED position due to growth in Green Building Market

A local nonprofit organization that educates and trains homeowners, builders, architects, and others in green building practices is growing.Jlenz Rapid Growth Habitat

The Green Home Institute () began in 2000 as a resource for sharing best practices in sustainable building. In 2005, they became one of only 12 organizations designated by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to support a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes pilot program. There are now 38 LEED for Homes providers around the country and primarily serves the Midwest. In addition to their location on Wealthy Street, they also have staff in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis.

Recently, named Brett Little as its new executive director and Jamison Lenz as its LEED for Homes Program Manager. Both men are graduates of the Aquinas College Sustainable Business program.

Little served as the administrative director at before getting promoted. He started as a volunteer, then became an intern, and later, an AmeriCorps VISTA employee. He and his wife Laura recently spent around $30,000 “greening” their 87-year-old home. Afterward, Little and his wife noticed a 50 percent reduction in their heat bills and their electric usage decreased by 30-60 percent as well.  (You can read more about the Littles’ greening experience in a previous Rapid Growth article here.)

Lenz’s position was created with a grant from the Home Inspector General, a residential energy inspection company operated by President and Founder Michael Holcomb. Before joining the team, Lenz was a volunteer and later, an AmeriCorps VISTA employee at the Habitat for Humanity, where he helped with LEED construction administrative work.

Lenz will assist with client documentation and residential LEED consulting services, while Little will mostly focus on launching new initiatives.

With these recent staff changes, is implementing more programs in addition to the time currently spent educating people and organizations interested in the LEED for Homes program.

The way LEED for Homes works is that each registered project must have a third party Green Rater to handle the onsite verification. Green Raters ensure specific conditions have been met on the LEED for Homes checklist. Based on how many points the project has achieved, the home can earn the basic certification level on up to the highest level of Platinum LEED certification.

Additionally, energy performance testing must be done by a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Rater, which many Green Raters do as well. The greater a home’s heating and cooling efficiency is, the lower the HERS number and the more LEED points earned.

The LEED for Homes certification also takes a holistic approach to building so features such as being located within the city and near bus routes add points. If a person can walk to where they need to go and not use a car, that helps improve the environment.

Lenz says that living in a LEED-certified home is “more than just lower energy bills, it’s also about having a healthy environment where you can raise your family and be connected to the community in which you live.”

Builders, contractors, or homeowners typically work with the Green Rater on measures they can take to raise the number of points and level of certification. also consults with them and acts as a liaison between the Green Raters and the USGBC.

Some common tips to get more LEED points include adding a level of insulation to increase the HERS score or using only non-invasive plants in landscaping. Another simple way to raise points is to keep all plants at least two feet away from the house to prevent pest infestations.

When the home construction is completely finished and the Green Rater has turned in all required documentation, reviews it and then submits it to USGBC to obtain the final certification.

If that sounds like it’s a lot of work for builders and contractors, it often can be at first and it usually also costs two to three percent more to build a LEED-certified home. However, Little and Lenz assure their customers it gets easier with time and it’s definitely worth it.

“Building to LEED certification is not easy, nor should it be,” says Lenz. “But the more you build to this standard, it will soon become ingrained into your mindset and all that you do.”

Little adds that only about three percent of homes get LEED certified. “Most builders are not interested because they think it’s too hard,” he says.

typically works with contractors, builders, and architects and not many homeowners. In order for an existing house to become LEED for Homes certified, Little says “a homeowner pretty much has to gut their whole house, so it’s a big deal.”

Some of the advantages of having a LEED-certified home are lower utility bills, increased air quality, less illnesses and allergies, reduced impact on the environment, and a higher resale value.

“On average, we will spend 90 percent of our lives indoors, therefore it’s paramount that our buildings are healthy, efficient, and connected to the community,” says Lenz.

In 2012, hosted free monthly webinars, which were quite successful and attracted attendees from around the world. They’re planning on doing more in 2013 with topics ranging from the LEED process, green building leaders and products, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and more.

, in partnership with Integrated Architecture, Habitat for Humanity, and the City of Grand Rapids, was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from Bank of America to transform the Wealthy Heights neighborhood into a LEED Neighborhood Development area. This will ensure healthy, affordable, efficient, and durable construction and remodeling practices. Chris Hall, formerly with Habitat, and Matthew VanSweden of Integrated Architecture worked with Little to acquire the grant.

is also now putting together a Living Building Challenge team. This “next generation of LEED for Homes” was developed by the International Living Future Institute.

Little says “if you thought LEED was hard,” the Living Building Challenge is even more complex. The certification is comprised of seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty.  Homes that qualify must have zero energy and water waste, be built with nontoxic materials, maximize health, blend with surroundings, and be socially just and beautiful.

The process is not simple and Little adds, “That’s why they call it a Challenge.”

Another initiative that is starting is green remodeling education and certification for homeowners who want to reduce energy costs. will teach the homeowners ways to become certified, though Little says this isn’t about minor repairs — “you really have to be committed.”

has also recently partnered with Advanced Energy in North Carolina to train HVAC professionals how to become Energy Star Version 3 credentialed installers and designers.

In addition to all of these new initiatives, the staff at has been very busy lately educating people on the LEED for Homes program and other green building tips.

“The market is up for new construction and we follow its success,” Little says.

They’ve been getting some help from students at GVSU, Aquinas, and MSU with video documentation, research, and surveys.

On top of the webinars, training, and consulting they offer, Lenz wants people to know they contact anytime with questions about anything having to do with greening a home.

“Our mission is to get the word out about healthier, more efficient homes,” he says. “It’s more than just about LEED, it’s about green communities.”

Full Article Here 

As the editor of our Do Good section, Heidi writes about nonprofits, educational initiatives, and people and organizations making West Michigan a better place. She’s also a freelance writer, graphic designer, and marketing consultant who works out of her home while being pestered constantly by her two spoiled dogs. You can find her on Twitter at @HeidiSocial, but be aware that she likes her opinions strong and her humor warped

Photographs by Adam Bird

Annual Report 2012

The Green Home Institute () is excited to share our past year’s phenomenal successes in providing education on high-performance home and green building principals, practices, tools/resources and 3rd-party verification programs.  Please consider a year-end donation to help our continued success. Here’s  a recap of 2012 activities:

Green Build Accreditation  On site Seminars 

has provided 18 course offerings throughout the Midwest in order to educate participants on basic green building necessities and how to navigate the LEED rating system through the LEED 201: Core Concepts & Strategies class, basics of residential green building and how to utilize the LEED for Homes rating system through HOMES 252: Understanding LEED for Homes and the HOMES 401 course to qualify more Green Raters who can verify LEED for Homes projects. We reached out to nearly 200 participants who are now more prepared to take courses to become accredited LEED Green Associate’s and/or LEED Accredited Professionals with the Homes designation.

See full 4 page report here. 

Online Green Building Education

Working internally and  partnering with GreenExpo 365 ,we educated over 1,000 people on 1-hour continuing education green building web-based seminars. We worked with 10 different experts who are green building professionals on telling stories of their approach to sustainable construction and showing case studies of their success. Some of these web-based seminars include, Introduction to the Living Building Challenge, Introduction to LEED for Homes, Rehabbing to LEED & Green Homes, Green Making Green: Green Remodeling Intro, The US’s oldest Net Zero Remodel success story, Success in Education & Awareness in LEED for Homes , A Journey to LEED & Passive House, Appraising Green Homes and Introduction to LEED for Homes Multifamily Certification.

Local Green Building Courses & Tours 

Collaborated with partners to make these happen.

  • Illinois 
    • Passive House Consultant Training Program, Slotnick Residence LEED Tour, Better Buildings, Better Business Conference Seminars on LEED Platinum foreclosure rehab, Rain water harvesting workshop, Greening real estate adding value to home talk, tour De La Fleur 3 flat gut rehab, Introduction to LEED for Homes & Multi Family program, LEED for Homes Existing Homes talk, Energy Star Version 3 introduction, Building low cost green homes talk, Introduction to green building appraisal practices and principals, and the Lincoln park town home gut rehab tour + many more.
  • Michigan 
    • Habitat for Humanity Green Homes Summit Michigan – Green Home presentations, LEED almost Passive House Homes tour, Energy Star Version 3 introduction, Mission Zero Fest – Certify it talk, LEED VS NGBS VS Green Built MI
  • Wisconsin 
    • Newen House Passive House Zero Energy Bus – Home Tour.
  • We also have delivered training through HUD and the Office of Native American Programs to instruct tribal communities on building greener homes.

Green Home Education Videos

Completed 3 Green Home Videos show casing details of Green, healthy home building verified to be high performance via LEED certification. 1 video has been a 1.5-year project handed down through 3 Grand Valley State interns as a collaborative effort stretching across semesters highlighting one of the greenest homes in West Michigan. Videos are available at our youtube channel.

High Performance HVAC Energy Star Qualified Contractor Trainings 
  •   partnered with Advanced Energy to develop and train a network of qualified HERS raters to further train HVAC contractors throughout the Midwest to learn and meet the requirements of working on Energy Star  ersion 3 Homes.  HVAC contractors will better implement load calculations, duct sizing, and other critical skills needed to certify a high-performance Energy Star home. Finding qualified HVAC contractors has been an impediment to the program, and with this training is helping overcome that hurdle in the Midwest. Please consider a year-end donation to help our continued success.

Living Building Challenge Collaboration 

partnered with the International Living Future Institute to deliver a very successful 6-hour seminar in Chicago on Understanding the Living Building Challenge. We garnered over 40 attendees, 2 – 3 times more than those courses usually attract in Chicago, and educated people on a holistic, approach to triple bottom line building for homes, offices, industry and communities. Based on the workshop’s success, we are planning 3 more in the Midwest for 2013. Please consider a year-end donation to help our continued success.


  • is excited to announce that we won a grant from Bank of America in partnership with Integrated Architecture, Habitat for Humanity Kent County and The City of Grand Rapids to help transform our local neighborhood to a LEED Neighborhood Development. We will receive this $25,000 in Q1 2013 and will be used to develop a plan for 3 pillars of LEED ND certification in the Wealthy Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids Michigan in regards to sustainable sites development which goes along with our Storm Water mitigation issues, location and transportation which means the walkibility and flow of the streets, sidewalks and bus lines and Green Infrastructure which is ensuring healthy, affordable, efficient and durable construction and remodeling practices in the neighborhood.

LEED Certifications & Registrations

  • In 2012 registered over 1200 units spanning across 70 different
    projects, essentially on par with 2011 numbers. LEED registration shows that a project team has thought through high performance and sustainable practices prior to construction the house. makes every effort to ensure the teams are given the tools and resources to complete the projects and earn LEED certification, working on over 5000 units encompassing over 1500 separate projects as of 2012.
  • We value 3rd party verification and certification as a benchmark to show that a project has actually had the oversight and performance testing done to ensure performance, durability, efficiency and health issues are taken care of for the life of the building. LEED certification is also a tool for education as it shows real projects that meet a national definition of green, is above standard building practices, and teaches builders, designers, homeowners and the community involved in the projects about sustainable home construction. has been an original LEED provider since 2005.

    Green Homes Price Premium

    Research from UC Berkeley and UCLA have found that green home labels can add almost 9% to the value of a home.

Case Studies on LEED Affordable Housing

  • Partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) on a $10,000 grant given to the University to survey homeowners of the qualitative features of their LEED certified homes throughout the Midwest . Thanks to MSU we have reached over 200 homeowner/renters LEED certified housing and learned more about the health and energy effects of their homes and habits within them. (Read the LEED post-occupancy research report here)

Strategic Planning

  • has been focused mainly on LEED for Homes programming since 2007, but beginning in 2012, we have been expanding our programming to other areas including,
    • educating local community members through a hands-on demonstration center and training,
    • developing an online demonstration center to help consumers make the best choices when building or remodeling in a sustainable manner,
    • developing and delivering a 3rd party remodeling certification program for homeowners and remodelers who want to learn how to remodeling in a healthy, efficient and durable manner and verify it was done correctly.
    • Helping lead the charge on the Greening of the MLS in our headquarters city of Grand Rapids so that we can properly assess and value green homes.

We are thankful to Andrea Poma, our board treasurer, for leading the charge on Strategic planning this year, working with volunteers and interns to broaden our reach to programs that meet our mission.

Staffing Changes

  • Brett Little, LEED, BS: Sustainable Business has been with the Green Home Institute since August 2008, starting as a volunteer  and working his way up past Americore Vista program, part time employee and then interim Executive Director after Calvin Delano left.  Brett has been recently married and bought an 80-year old house in Grand Rapids and began a moderate green rehab on the house, reducing energy use by 50%. As of December 3rd, Brett has been promoted to fulfill the official Executive Director role. Brett is excited to begin launching new programs to help with unique education in Green Building.
  • We are thankful for a $13,200 grant from the Home Inspector General  to bring on Jamison Lenz, LEED GA,  BS Sustainable Business  as the  LEED for Homes program manager. He began working full time as of November first after serving one of our biggest partners, Habitat for Humanity Kent County as an Americorps Member tasked with LEED for Homes certification oversight & Weatherization of existing homes. Jamison has long been a sustainability advocate, being one of the first graduates of Aquinas College’s first of it’s kind Sustainable Business program.

Rater Network

Become LEED for Homes Green Rater has maintained and expanded a network of 40 + Energy/Green Raters throughout the Midwest in 8 states to help deliver 3rd party onsite verification to Green Home projects and help educate project teams on the necessary measures taken to achieve high performance homes.


Intern Highlights

  Abigail Koprowicz, A sustainable business student & world traveler from

first assignment was to be a LEED Home Video Host  which had her immediately re stating details of LEED & Green Building that she learned on the spot. Other activities are work with Chuck Otto, a media consultant on helping tailor their green home education news to conventional media. After graduation, Abigail plans to attend graduate school and study environmental anthropology.

Grand Valley State University has provided with some of the best video/production interns. They have helped us follow a full house from start to finish and passed the project on without delay though 3 different interns. Thank you to Andrea, Lauren & Alex. The project will be released soon on our You Tube Channel

has worked with 10 interns from various institutions including:

  • Aquinas, GVSU and Davenport
    • Sustainable Business, Film, Business Administration
    • Combined effort of over 120 HoursWorked on Case Studies, Strategic Planning, Board Participation, Green Home Videos, Green Home Research, News Articles, Project Team Interviews and participated free of charge in education courses
Lansing Passive House Alliance 
Helped kick off the Lansing Michigan Passive House Alliance in collaboration with several others around the state to provide information and education of building super air tight, low energy and passively heated and cooled homes & buildings. Continued our work with the Chicago Alliance as well. Learn more.

Support in 2013
As a 501(c)3 charitable organization (view our details), we deliver green building education courses throughout the Midwest at minimal cost and no profit. Please support us to help keep these going. Your donation to the Green Home Institute may be tax-deductible. Please check with your accountant or tax attorney for details.

Thank you for your support!

Webinar: Post Occupancy Study – LEED for Homes on Affordable Housing

recently partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) to perform a Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of 235 LEED-certified homes in the Midwest, and we are pleased to share the results.  The goal is to identify the homes’ actual performance after people moved in, and also the

benefits and shortcomings of the current LEED for Home certification system. The survey consisted of various categories including (1) general satisfaction with the LEED-certified home, (2) satisfaction about the home in general and various aspects of the indoor environment, (3) overall well-being including the health impact, (4) energy efficiency and building performance, (5) the environmental behavior of residents, and (6) demographics.

The findings of this study revealed that most residents of the LEED-certified home were satisfied with their home and their quality of life in their home.

Continuing Education 

  • 1 GBCI – General
  • 1 MI Contractor (Code & Green)
  • 1 MI Architect
  • If you need continuing education units for a license in another state, this course may apply. Please consult your state’s requirements.

This webinar is free to review. If you are interested in continuing education credits, you must follow the following steps:

1. Watch the webinar presentation by Eunsil Lee, PhD for FREE.

2. Contact to take the 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 to get your certificate and CEUs. You must be an  member to pay the reduced member fee.

Webinar Pricing

Two methodological approaches were used for this study. Qualitative case studies were conducted with 15 LEED-certified Habitat for Humanity residents in Kent County, Michigan through in-depth interviews, observations, and IEQ measurement. 16 % respondents came from LEED-certified Habitat for Humanity homes in Michigan. These residents in particular, were more satisfied with their homes and their quality of life than residents of Non- Habitat homes were, although their satisfaction with their neighborhood and specific aspects of home environment (e.g., space layout, size of space, finishes, visual privacy, view, temperature, humidity) was lower than that of Non-Habitat residents. Residents of the Habitat for Humanity tended to perceive the improvement of their quality of life since moving into their LEED-certified home more strongly than residents of the Non-Habitat home did. They were also more satisfied with energy efficiency of their home than residents of the Non-Habitat home.

2 page graphic summary of Study PDF Here 

Full 96 Page Report on Post Occupancy Study 

Report Recommendations:

Promote sustainability in low-income housing: More programs should be developed that can offer incentives for participation in LEED green building certification programs and increase funding opportunities to cover the initial costs of sustainable home building for low-income families at both state and local levels, because those efforts will produce long-term economic and environmental benefits.

Improve the design of low-income green housing: Architects, designers, engineers, contractors, and facility managers can gain greater understanding of design and the performance of low-income green homes with the findings of this POE project by receiving feedback for the future projects. Although the houses were LEED-certified, some problems in maintaining the green features, building performance, and comfortable home environment were identified. Architects, designers, engineers, green policy makers, and Habitat for Humanity Affiliates should pay attention to the specific needs relevant to these issues to improve the design quality of low-income green home through the process of planning, design, and construction.

Implement Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE): More extensive implementation of POEs is critical. Since LEED certification is based on “as-designed” performance, further implementation of POEs is exceptionally important to verify actual performance and expected performance. In particular, since there is no mandatory post-occupancy evaluation process included in LEED or other green home certifications, there is no empirical data to verify whether these green homes perform satisfactorily in terms of heating, cooling, or indoor environmental quality.

Contribute to the general body of knowledge: Although there is a consensus about the benefits of green homes, few empirical studies about the actual effects of LEED-certified green homes on residents’ health, comfort, and satisfaction have been conducted. The findings from this study therefore increased understanding of the benefits to be gained from LEED-certified low-income homes by applying empirically tested, research -based knowledge.

Promote public awareness: This report will educate the public about the impact of LEED-certified homes on (1) improving the residential environmental quality and energy efficiency, (2) reducing residents’ health risks and (3) enhancing residents’ comfort and satisfaction by disseminating the results of this research at conferences and by publishing articles in scholarly and extension journals.

Make a Policy Recommendation:

1) Incentives for green homes, such as LEED-certified homes, Energy Star Homes, or National Association of Home Builders’ Green certified homes, should be offered to developers, contractors, and homeowners. This will be critical for both new and existing homes located in the cold regions such as Michigan to encourage energy-efficient green home constructions for low-income families in order to offer lower utility bills.

2) Policy makers should collaborate closely with local builders and developers to apply more green home features to new or existing low-income houses. Certain types of incentives for local builders and developers are desired.

3) Post-occupancy evaluations of green certified homes should be encouraged, particularly for low-income housing. Continuous efforts should be made to save energy and keep green homes energy-efficient for these households and homeowners.

4) We suggest conducting POEs of green certified homes in five or ten years to preserve their green features and energy efficiency. Based on the POEs, the homes may or may not be repaired to keep the original functions of green features. In the POEs and repairing process, local home remodeling companies can be involved. Some incentives should be considered for the local companies or businesses to be involved in this green process if they are small or micro businesses. Tax reductions for these types of companies (i.e., energy auditors, window replacement companies) can promote small entrepreneurs working on sustainable housing projects in local communities. This can create more local jobs.

5) We suggest offering regular educational seminars for residents of green certified homes in order to offer precise information about the green features of their homes and educate them how to keep their homes green. On-site seminars can be offered one or two times in the development phase and right before the new owners take occupancy. Once residents move to their new homes, it is recommended to send flyers via mail or email to remind them of the green features of their homes and inform them of how to use and maintain these features. Mailed or emailed flyers will work better than on-site seminars because many residents have full- or part-time jobs.

6) In addition, incentives should be considered for upgrading low-income housing to make it more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Currently there is a 500 dollar maximum tax credit for upgrading any housing features to make them energy-efficient. This maximum should be increased to keep up with the real cost of upgrading energy-consuming HVAC systems to energy-efficient ones. In particular, more aggressive incentives should be offered to households below a certain income level so that homeowners can be more active in upgrading their conventional houses to energy-efficient green ones.

Thanks to the Michigan Applied Public Policy Research (MAPPR) Grant from the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) and  Michigan State University (MSU) who worked with to perform this Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE).

See more details on a similar LEED Pre-Occupancy Report.

Green Building Winter Trainings throughout the Midwest

As part of the Alliance’s mission to educate the builders, architects, developers and the public at larger on the latest in Green Building, we are offering several courses around the Midwest and online this year.  Studying for your Green Associates? LEED AP Home?




Date/Time* Event Title / Location CEUs
Tue, Feb 12, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
An Introduction to the Living Building Challenge – Lunch Time Webinar – Free

Thu, Feb 14, 2013
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Subslab ventilation systems for moisture control

Tue, Feb 19, 2013
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
HOMES 401: Green Rater Training
Priority Energy – Training Center
Park Ridge IL
Wed, Feb 27, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
A Homeowner’s Tale, Passive House & LEED Home Case Study – Free Webinar 

1 GBCI / 1 AIA
Thu, Feb 28, 2013
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Implementation of successful daylighting control systems

Wed, Mar 6, 2013
7:00 AM – 3:45 PM
Better Buildings: Better Business Conference
Kalahari Conference Center
Wisconsin Dells, WI 
Wed, Mar 6, 2013
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Living Building Seminar Pre Conference Networking Event
Ann Arbor 
Thu, Mar 7, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Guardian Club Banquet Hall
Detroit Michigan 
Mon, Mar 11, 2013
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
LEED GA: Core Concepts & Strategies – Naperville
Electric Association
Naperville IL
Wed, Mar 13, 2013
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
HOMES 252: Understanding LEED for Homes – Wilmette
Wilmette, IL 
Tue, Mar 19, 2013
12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
eQUEST energy modeling series
NIU Outreach Center at Naperville
Naperville IL
Tue, Apr 9, 2013
12:00 AM – 12:00 AM
eQUEST energy modeling series
Radisson Paper Valley Hotel
Appleton Wisconsin
Wed, Apr 10, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC)
Madison Wisconsin
Wed, Apr 17, 2013
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Understanding the Living Building Challenge 6 Hour Seminar 
Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC)
Madison Wisconsin

*All times are US Eastern time (EST)

Group rates available on workshops! Contact for details.
All programs approved for AIA and GBCI credit. Other CEU programs may also apply.


As a 501(c)3 charitable organization (view our details), we deliver green building education courses through out the Midwest usually at cost. Please support us to help keep these going. Your donation to the Green Home Institute may be tax-deductible. Please check with your accountant or tax attorney for details.

Thank you for your support!


Habitat Volunteers Gain Green & LEED Experience

      GRAND RAPIDS, MI With all the interest in “green jobs” training from colleges and universities you might be surprised to learn that a cohort of emerging green design and construction professionals are being trained all over the US on Habitat Projects. AT 426 Adams SE in the City of Grand Rapids. 426 Adams SE is a construction site for a new home being built via Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. The reason the cohort is there is Habitat Kent’s commitment to building 100% Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified homes. Since 2007 that commitment has led to 100 LEED projects.

LEED certification starts on projects as small as a single-family residential home, all the way up to an awe-inspiring skyscraper or sports stadium. And with more municipalities requiring LEED and an increase of consumer demand for green, LEED Professional Accreditation is an essential credential for today’s building industry professional. However, the road to LEED Professional Accreditation is not easy – as extensive LEED project experience is now a prerequisite for professionals to qualify for the LEED exams. This requirement creates a near-impossible barrier for recent graduates, unemployed, and those changing careers: how does one gain LEED experience, if LEED experience is required for employment?

But Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has a solution: an entry-level, hands-on LEED project experience program called EverbuildPRO.

This program is possible through Habitat’s partnership with BOULD, a Colorado-based social enterprise that grew out of the Boulder, CO Habitat affiliate, who sought to help LEED-seeking professionals and students gain green experience through Habitat home construction.

EverbuildPRO creator, Shane Gring, started as a Habitat volunteer with the Boulder Habitat and quickly identified the need — and his solution. The first affiliate he reached out to for beta testing was Kent County. Says Gring, “In the green building world Grand Rapids’ Habitat affiliate is well known as a leader. Being a native-Michigander I’m well aware of West Michigan’s commitment to sustainability. Could there be a better place to start?”

EverbuildPRO is a hands-on experiential education program – that provides professionals and students with the hand-on, real world experiences necessary to launch green careers. The program consists of 50 hours of experience on a 4-month building project – where participants will get access to: participation in design and planning meetings, tackling of green research and documentation, witnessing performance inspections, and even rolling-up their sleeves and building on-site! Upon program completion, participants will graduate with multifaceted green experience, a LEED-certified building to add to their resume, and qualification for LEED Accreditation, the world’s most recognized sustainability credential.

“Having a passion for sustainable building brought me to Habitat”, stated Jamison Lenz, a Habitat volunteer pursuing his LEED AP+Homes accreditation. “After attaining a degree in Sustainable Business from Aquinas I wanted to find an experience with high performance building. Volunteering with Habitat gives me that hands-on LEED opportunity you just can’t access anywhere else.”

“This program is really helpful. We love our dedicated volunteers who work alongside our home buyer partners. Now being able to integrate some of them even more into the life of our projects is exciting” believes Christopher Hall, Habitat Director of Strategic Initiatives. “I hope they all take their test, pass it with flying colors and then go on to help improve the built environment. But even if they don’t pursue LEED AP any further, we still end up with a new home ownership opportunity for a hard-working, qualified family who needed a hand up. That alone is pretty cool.”

Interested individuals can find registration information for the upcoming project at under “LEED AP Project Experience”.  Anyone can Habitat or Individual can participate in their local area across the country too.




Christopher J. Hall

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County


About Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

The nonprofit Christian housing organization Habitat for Humanity of Kent County seeks to serve God, build hope and transform lives through neighborhood revitalization and homeownership for families who otherwise could not afford a home of their own. Since 1983, Habitat Kent has served more than 320 families by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more information, to donate, volunteer, or purchase a home, please visit, or follow us or at