Parade Of Homes Featuring Green


    GRAND RAPIDS — A green-inspired home at 4465 Burton Forest Court SE will be featured in this year’s Spring Parade of Homes.

    Green Built Inc., the nonprofit arm of the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids (HBAGGR), is constructing the  home off Forest Hills Avenue, just north of Burton Street.

    The nonprofit’s intention is to use the home to educate the public about green building principles and practices.

    Through the project, Green Built hopes to show how green building is good for the environment and how it creates a healthier indoor living environment to boot, said Ann Dykema, the association liaison staffer for Green Built.

    The association established Green Built two and half years ago.

    Dykema noted that its 501(c)(3) status allows the organization to apply for grants, accept donations and conduct fund-raising efforts.

    Lee Kitson, president of Lee Kitson Builder Inc. and current president of Green Built, along with Mike Holcomb of The Home Inspector General Inc., and Arn McIntyre of McIntyre Builders Inc., are the project’s general contractors.

    Kitson, who supervises the project, provided the lot for the house.

    The team broke ground on the home in late October.

    Some suppliers have made donations and some have provided cost breaks on products in order to have their products showcased in the house, Dykema noted.

    Those suppliers and their products will get special recognition in the Spring Parade tour.

    “We can’t sell the house for what it costs us to build because of the donations,” she explained.

    “John Doe couldn’t go out and build the same house for the same price. Everything we’re referring to as ‘cost’ is the retail value if someone else wanted to go out and build the same house.”

    The Burton Forest Court home features energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, appliances and lighting.

    It also incorporates techniques that preserve the natural environment and vegetation, reduce erosion and water runoff, and conserve water both indoors and out.

    “The energy efficiency of the home will be somewhere about 40 percent more efficient than the average home because it’s going to be Energy Star compliant,” Holcomb pointed out.

    “And the indoor air quality will be much improved because it will have constantly recirculating fresh air through a high-efficiency energy recover system.”

    With the exception of where the house sits, the contractors saved all the mature vegetation on the lot, trees included, and put up silt fencing to keep the soil from eroding while the house was under construction, he recalled.

    Plans call for a rain garden, a bio-retention feature that absorbs water runoff on the property. Any water that runs off the house’s roof or property will be routed to an area that will hold it until the ground can dissipate it. The object is to avert run-off and storm water problems for somebody downstream, he explained.

    The home has an engineered foundation that was constructed in panels in a factory and delivered to the site ready to be bolted together. The panels are made up of a pre-insulated material that uses less concrete, Holcomb said.

    He noted that the house was intentionally engineered and sized dimensionally to eliminate waste of both materials and labor.

    The house will sport a deck made of recycled decking materials

    On the interior, contractors are using environmentally friendly, soft foam insulation for the walls, low emission VOC paints and glues, and recycled content carpeting.

    Holcomb said the bathrooms will feature special toilets from Australia that use half the water a traditional toilet does, saving the average family about 4,000 gallons of water a year.

    A lot of indoor air quality features are being built in, as well.

    “There’s a whole-house ventilation system that will exhaust air from the house, bring in fresh air and exchange the energy from the outgoing air to the ingoing air so you’re not wasting heat or cooling.”

    In the same vein, an exhaust vent in the garage directs car fumes away from the house.

    Features such as the high-performance insulation and water-conserving toilets, Holcomb observed, cost more up front but the trade-off is lower monthly energy and water bills.

    During the Parade of Homes, Dykema anticipates at least one person from Green Built will be on hand to explain the home’s green features. Green Built also expects to produce handouts detailing the various green aspects of the home and property.

    Any profit from the sale of the home, minus the building and equipment costs, will be donated to Green Built.

    Dykema said the nonprofit would like to build one green home at least every other year to support the Green Built program.

    “Maybe next year another member of Green Built will volunteer to oversee a new green project.”

    The more consumer demand grows for green building practices, the more builders will become interested in building green, Dykema said.

    “It’s going to be a market-driven program,” Dykema said. “The builders aren’t going to build green if their customers don’t want it. We have to make sure that consumers know why they should want it.”

    The Spring Parade of Homes opens May 28 and runs for two weeks.

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