The Greenhouse Innovations: The "Green" Buy-in - Homes Across America Search Return

The Greenhouse




Goals of Innovation: Coulter Builders sought to build a team of subcontractors as committed to green building as they were. By establishing such a team, Coulter Builders wanted to reduce the time and money needed to build a "certified" green home, and thus reduce its cost to the eventual home buyer.

Description: The first step was convincing the General Contractor, Coulter Builders, that it was possible to succeed as a builder by building green. Gene Townsend, principal, became firmly convinced after attending an NAHB Green Building Conference. He also learned there were other potential partners working to learn about, improve, and promote green building to develop high performance houses that were more compatible with the environment.

Obstacles: Coulter Builders decided to invest in their employees and subcontractors. They provided them with the skills necessary to look differently at how they built a house. They accept and attain the goals of Energy Star and American Lung Association Health House programs, validated through third party inspections. This gives potential buyers the assurances they need that there were many things inside they could not see that had been done to improve the quality, comfort, and performance of the Greenhouse.

The second part was to educate potential homebuyers. A demonstration house built on the same principles as this home will serve as an educational center and be open to the public for two years. This provides the American Lung Association of Michigan (ALAM) a great opportunity for ALAM to showcase the Healthy Home program. Although growing, it takes constant promotion to keep the importance and value "green concepts" in the minds of most potential homebuyers.

In addition, new homeowners receive "training" on how to most efficiently operate the home and tips on waste reduction and recycling.

Cost Information: The cost of creating the "green team" was really shared among the team members, including Coulter Builders, the ALAM, subcontractors, realtors, and Lansing Community College. The State of Michigan also awarded a grant to Coulter Builders through the Department of Consumer and Industry Services. This program helps builders recover some of the expenses associated with training, research, and construction so builders aren't penalized as they move their business to a greener operation.

Additional Benefits/Drawbacks: These efforts and partners have encouraged more builders to incorporate Healthy Home principles into their work in Michigan. Home tours also continue to educate the public. Consequently, the demand for green homes is on the rise.

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