Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Features · Leeding the way/Green homes
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Leeding the way/Green homes

Erin Crowell - April 19th, 2010
LEEDing the Way: What it takes to create a model ‘green’ home
By Erin Crowell
When it comes to living green, it’s about getting the most bang for your
buck without leaving a considerable carbon footprint in your wake. The
U.S. Green Building Council has developed a standard that allows
homeowners to do just that through its LEED program (Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design).
LEED provides verification that a building was designed and built with a
focus on “energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction,
improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and
sensitivity to their impacts.”
Northern Michigan is now home to such a building: Located near Kingsley,
the Granite Hill project is a LEED-certified home, rated gold on a
100-point scale. Other categories include platinum, silver and bronze
accreditation.
It’s the first LEED home in Grand Traverse County, earning national awards
for its ‘green’ assets and serving as a model home for the 2009 Michigan
Energy Fair.
“It’s really exciting to be at the forefront, We take a lot of pride in
it,” says Joel Diotte of Frontier Construction, who, along with partners
Matt Diotte and Pete Stern, was the builder for the Granite Hill project.
Frontier specializes in green construction, although Granite Hill, named
for the collection of granite rock on the lot, is the company’s first LEED
project.
The company’s main construction product is insulating concrete forms —
steel reinforced concrete with foam insulation and poured concrete on the
inside. Diotte says it’s the most energy efficient building system
available, which is why Frontier was recommended for the Granite Hill
project.

A SLEW OF SAVINGS
Insulated concrete forms provide just a fraction of the energy-saving
products inside the home.
“There’s a whole slew of things that make it energy efficient and
environmentally friendly,” says Diotte.
The list includes James Hardie fiber cement siding, Energy Star rated
metal roof shingle with 30% recycled material, Low-E argon gas-filled
Anderson Windows, soy-based insulation, stained concrete floors, radon
venting, dual flush toilets, low flow plumbing fixtures, Zero VOC
(volatile organic compounds) paint, compact fluorescent bulbs, Energy Star
appliances and more.
“The soy byproduct insulation is the same as petroleum based, but it’s 100
percent renewable product,” says Diotte.
The home also features a solar hot water heater “which works so well, that
the homeowners called me in November saying they couldn’t use both
showers,” says Diotte, “They’d been living there for four months and
didn’t even have the electric water heater turned on. They were using just
the solar hot water heater. A lot of people question whether solar hot
water heaters work in Michigan, but they do. It’s the most cost effective
renewable energy source.”

PASSIVE SOLAR
Designed by Eric Hughes of Image Design in Grand Rapids, the house boasts
a passive solar design, an architectural trick that civilization has long
forgotten.
“People used to think of the design a long time ago, and just don’t any
more,” says the homeowner (who wishes to remain anonymous).
He points to the Anasazi tribe of New Mexico, which occupied mainly cliff
and mesa-top dwellings around 1,000 AD.
The tribe situated their dwellings so that the winter sun would fill and
warm the space during the season; and during the summer, the position of
the sun would mostly keep the dwellings under shade.
“Houses used to be designed like this in the early 1900s and when heat
became cheaper, people were like, ‘screw it,’” he adds.
The Granite Project uses passive solar design in the same capacity, with
overhangs that shield the house from the highest point of the sun; and in
the winter, sunlight floods and encompasses the space. The house was also
placed on the lot that would give it the best angle in relation to the
sun.

COST EFFECTIVE HOME
For the Granite Hill project, the average cost was $130 per square foot.
“Not much more than a stick frame house of the same construction and
size,” says Diotte.
He explains the goal of LEED certification is to not have the house cost
more than what a typical house would cost.
The house relies on zero fossil fuels and maintains an average utility
bill of $85 per month, year-round.
“Since September, it’s actually been down to $75 on average,” says the
homeowner, who also points to their Tulikivi masonry heater as their
primary source of heat.
“My wife actually makes the comment a lot about our families’ homes
downstate that use forced air, and when we go to visit we would say, ‘man
this place is cold,’ and their heat is at 70 degrees,” he says. “In our
house, when we’ve got a fire going, it’s shorts and t-shirts, no problem.”
The masonry stove, directly shipped from Finland, was the biggest up-front
cost in the Granite Hill project, “but so worth it in the long run,” adds
the homeowner. “We felt bad about shipping 900 pounds from Finland. That’s
a pretty big carbon footprint. But then, we thought… you do that once, and
you’ll never have to hook up to carbon gas again. All of our future heat
will be from the backwoods.”
The homeowners invested 2.5 years of research before breaking ground,
mostly to ensure the safest, healthiest and most cost-effective home for
their budget.
“We try to maximize benefit for cost. Some ideas come from the builder,
the homeowner and the designer,“ says Diotte.
The LEED certification seemed like a great way to get everyone on board.
It gave us a guideline to follow,” says the homeowner.
Currently, there is no tax break for buildings that are LEED certified.
However, there is a plan in legislation that will give breaks according to
the level of certification based on points. Energy Star is the only tax
break incentive, offering a break for homes that are 30 percent more
efficient than the standard in 1980.
“Which isn’t that great,” says Diotte. “If the tax break goes through,
then LEED will be the future of green building. It’s definitely the most
stringent.”
The homeowners say they are proud to have the first LEED certified home in
Grand Traverse County and believe they won’t be the last.
“I hope to see more of it around here,” he says. “You don’t have to build
a half million dollar house to do it. We didn’t.”

Frontier Construction is located in Maple City. For more information on
services and upcoming projects, visit their website at
www.frontier-construction.com or call 231-360-3534. For Image Design,
visit imagedesignllc.blogspot.com or call 616-957-LEED.


 
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