This is Tom Tishler, Construction Manager at Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity. We have begun construction on a home in Kalamazoo, Michigan that we hope will earn the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) certification when it is complete. This is a rigorous program that uses the EPA Energy Star for homes version 3.0 and Indoor air plus certifications as the baseline for ZERH, and sets levels even higher to ensure that homes being built under the ZERH standard are, according to the DOE, in the top 1% of new homes being built for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and overall cost of ownership.
It is our intent to share the practices we are using on this home in an effort to educate our community on the benefits of what we call “high-performance” homes, and the impact they can have on cost of ownership over the life of the home and the environment. This home is very “green” by most green building program standards, but we hesitate to use that term because we feel it implies that the intent of the home is solely to be environmentally friendly. This is an important outcome, and one we also care about very much, but not ultimately our driving reason for building in this way. At Habitat we believe that by building energy efficient housing with our partner families we reduce the overall cost of ownership, ensuring that a family is not overly burdened with energy costs. By building our homes according to the standards of the Indoor air plus label, we ensure the highest quality indoor living environment for our families, drastically reducing asthma-inducing triggers from chemical and environmental pollutants that are all too common even in many new homes.
We have worked hard to use the best building practices we could find, but nobody is perfect so we welcome constructive criticism of our project. We also cannot overstate the importance of our volunteers, who have and will continue to contribute many hundreds of unpaid hours on the project by providing high quality, dedicated work in helping others in their community. From the foundation to the last coat of paint, volunteers will provide the vast majority of labor in building the home, and we are extremely grateful for their work. Over the next several months we hope to post as often as possible to keep everyone updated on the progress of the home, which we hope to complete in the winter of 2015.