For a Grand Rapids, Michigan family, this Christmas was particularly special as it moved into a $110,000 LEED-certified home built by Habitat for Humanity and sponsored by Spartan Stores. The home is the ninth for which Habitat’s Kent County chapter has received a LEED rating (including one Platinum and two Gold) under USGBC’s LEED for Homes Pilot Program. The Mast family moved into their new house in mid-December after providing the required 300 hours of service to Habitat after their application was approved in March. Kent County’s Habitat chapter built the first low-income LEED-certified house in 2006, and has constructed each of its homes similarly ever since. At a ceremony that handed keys to the home to the Masts, executive director of the chapter Pam Doty-Nation observed that “there are a lot of big home builders who say they can’t afford energy-efficiency, [and] we’re demonstrating that, yes, you can afford it. If we can afford it, you can afford it.”
The house itself includes a number of green features, including recycled newspaper insulation, double-paned, argon gas low-E windows, and compact fluorescent light bulbs. According to Habitat, the green premium for the project was approximately $5,000, but it expects that the Masts will save $1,000 annually on their utility bills. The family will pay for the home with a 25-year, interest-free mortgage held by Habitat, which the organization will use to fund future projects. Spartan Stores raised $60,000 from shoppers; Habitat provided the rest through a variety of grants and donations.
The Kent County Habitat for Humanity Chapter has constructed 237 homes since its inception in 1983. It’s not the only chapter to embrace sustainable design; back in November, the Los Angeles branch started construction on 30 energy-efficient houses. Another interesting note - according to USGBC, Grand Rapids is one of the greenest cities in the U.S., with 48 LEED-certified buildings in its metropolitan area (including the Grand Rapids Art Museum - the world’s first LEED-certified art institute). Only Rocklin, California (outside of Sacramento) and Portland, Oregon have constructed more to date.
Family Moves into Green Home for Christmas (GR Press)