Being the Executive Director at an organization that promotes and trains on residential green building, Brett Little decided to put his money where his mouth was and commit to green remodeling in his first house purchase. Brett and his wife Laura wanted to commit to the up and coming city of Grand Rapids Michigan, which was easy to do with all the past few years of recognition and grow (Most sustainable mid sized city, beer city usa 12′ and 13′, top ten place to find a job, most LEED building per capital and etc etc. ) The home is
circa 1920s and aesthetically was in great shape, had a brand new remodeled kitchen, intact wood windows and trim, good paint, half finished basement and very well kept landscaped (turf) yard.
What the house was missing was quickly shown in the inspection and energy audit. They revealed a lack of any decent insulation/air sealing, chuck full of incandescent light bulbs, inefficient water fixtures, noisy bath fan old and oversized heating/cooling systems along with a dinosaur of a water heater and no garden in the perfectly south facing fenced in backyard.
The target was LEED Silver certification through a Gut Rehab but we quickly had determined that exposing the exterior or interior walls to air seal plus removing the shower casing to add in non paper face drywall would go way over our budget. While LEED may fall more in line with a Deep Green Retrofit, we opted to do a Moderate Green Retrofit.
We immediately utilized the Michigan GreenStar program once it became available to document the existing conditions and come up with initiatives at the forefront of our goals for this home. As you can see in the initial energy audit in which we used the HERS Model (think a MPG sticker for your house), we came out at 175. You can see a little more on results we got here. This number was on track with the old homeowners energy bills which we acquired during the audit. Our order of importance to the home upgrades were Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Water Conservation, Landscaping and then Material Conservation lastly.
We came across a unique financing that allowed us to do a lot of work in the up front in-which does not existing now. MI Saves had partnered with our gas company DTE to allow a $2,500 kick back to those who could show a performance plan of gas savings of 30% with an upgrade. Trane/WellsFargo also had a fantastic deal with a 0% 5 year loan that allowed other products outside of their brand to make up 50% of the costs.
Key achievements for GreenStar Certification
Our blog details 1 years worth of utility date & costs associat... It also features lessons learned. We will be keeping it up to date by monitoring the performance, durability, comfortably and maintenance.
We plan to achieve Silver Certification within 2 years by converting more of the backyard to a food garden and the entire front yard over to a mix of drought tolerant and native plant species along with raised bed food gardens. Adding rain barrels and fixing the gutters. We hope to achieve more points by painting the exterior of the house with carcinogen free no VOC paint.
Other current issues – No return ducts in the 2nd floor is causing discomfort in both temperature and air floor. We have an idea of opening up the kitchen to connect to the living and dining and during that time we could potentially add return ducts and seal the current ducts.