Sumac Grove Pobst Residence LEED Platinum Home

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

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

Sumac Grove Pobst Residence LEED Platinum Home

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

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

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

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

This must have cost millions right? 

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

•         Gross Square Feet                         2010

•         Basement Square Feet                851

•         Conditioned Square Feet           2547

•         Garage / Workshop                      621

•         $167/Square Foot  Hard Cost

•         $200/ Square Foot Buildable Cost

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


Continuing Education

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

Project utility data update and ROI data

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

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

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

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

Webinar Pricing

Further Resources 

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

Pobst Unfinished Front

Lowell MI House Tour – "Tightest Home around?"

Sam Pobst has offered to host a LEED for Homes meeting and tour at his house under construction.

Sam is targeting a LEED Platinum House. He has incorporated many very efficient features. In fact, the recent blower door test came in at “0.26 ACH, the lowest reading the Green Rater, Mike Holcomb has ever had. ”

This house attempted Passive Haus certification but fell short. Many lessons are to be learned as to why it was not achieved.

MARK YOUR CALENDER if you want to see this stellar construction in process:

Date: Friday, February 3, 2012
Time: 10 am – 12 pm
Address & Info:

13691 Beckwith Drive NE

Lowell, MI 49331


Follow the project here

River Escape South Elevation

“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

Tour: Chicago LEED Home built with ICFs

Attention: April Tour

Our april tour information is listed HERE.

February tour:

Ever wonder what goes into making a LEED home? Now is your chance to tour a home going through the LEED for Homes program that is substantially complete, pending final testing and verification. And best of all, the tour is free, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27.

LEED Silver candidate project in Logan Square, Chicago
Illinois LEED for Homes project targeting LEED Silver Read more