Two LEED Rated Homes Completed

Construction was completed in December of 2014 on two, soon to be, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED) Rated houses located in Port Huron, MI.  The two homes, owned by Homefront Nonprofit, Inc, will each house 6 developmentally disabled adults and were designed to meet the American Disability Act (ADA) standards along with following the guidelines to achieve a LEED rating.

LEED is a program created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to recognize architects, owners and builders that go above and beyond the local building and energy codes to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly project.  LEED for Homes rates a project based on 8 categories, Innovation and Design, Location and Linkages, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Awareness and Education.  SyDesign, the project architect, KF Engineering, the project Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, and CA Phillips, the General Contractor, took careful consideration of all categories in an attempt to reach a LEED Gold rating.  From the site selection down to the creation of a complete owner/operators manual for all mechanical equipment in the building, no aspect of this project was overlooked.

Both home sites were considered urban infill, meaning both had previously been built sites and were adjacent to existing homes.  The sites were selected in areas located above the 100 year FEMA floodplain and are not located near environmentally sensitive areas.  The sites are also located within ¼ mile of an existing Blue Water Area Transit bus line. 

The construction of the homes features several green and innovative building methods.  The homes sit on a crawl space, but instead of being vented, the crawlspace is sealed space with insulated walls and floor so the air can be conditioned.  This allows all of the ductwork and plumbing to be located in a conditioned space.  The above ground wall construction utilizes an innovative building method called Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).  SIPs are a sandwich panel with a layer of OSB on each face and a core of foam insulation in the middle.  The SIPs allow for continuous insulation with minimal thermal breaks for framing.  Window and door headers were carefully detailed to assure that they also had thermal breaks.  All panel joints were caulked with a special sealant provided by the panel manufacturer which resulted in an extremely tight building envelope.

The sustainable concepts didn’t end at the exterior envelope of the home.  A horizontal Geothermal field surrounds both homes, significantly lowering heating and cooling costs.  Along with the geothermal heat pumps, an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) was installed, allowing all incoming fresh air to be pretreated with recovered warm or cool air from inside the home.  Other mechanical and electrical features include sealed ductwork, insulated piping, low flow fixtures, LED lighting, and a timed exhaust system ensuring a constant level of fresh air.

To finish off the LEED process, several steps were taken to help increase owner and community awareness and education of sustainable building methods.  An operations manual was created for the owner so they have full knowledge of all the included systems and how to maintain them at their peak performance.  During construction a LEED sign was placed in front of both homes so the public was aware of the special status of the projects.  An open house was held on March 12th for the public, allowing them to personally see some of the features and speak with the owner and designers.  And finally, a social media and web campaign is being launched to help educate the public about the projects.

Both projects are currently under review for their final LEED rating, but they are expected to receive enough points to be rated LEED Gold.