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Building Green Homes with Green Home Institute

In a recent interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Brett Little, the education manager at the Green Home Institute. Brett shared his expertise on building high-performance and green homes, emphasizing the importance of education and accessible resources. From managing residential green projects to understanding certification processes, Brett provided valuable insights into the world of sustainable housing.


Brett's Passion for Green Homes: Brett, an advocate for green building, has dedicated himself to educating people worldwide on sustainable construction practices. He has applied his knowledge to his own home and continues to inspire others to adopt green initiatives.




Accessible Resources for Residential Green Projects: When asked about easy resources for managing residential green projects, Brett directed us to the Green Home Institute's website (greenhomeinstitute.org). Under the Green Star Homes program, they offer open-source and free tools, including an online manual and a workbook, covering the five pillars of green building: energy, health, materials, water, and place. These resources provide a comprehensive guide to incorporating sustainability features into homes.




Starting with a Green Home Inspection: To understand where a home stands in terms of green performance, Brett highlighted the importance of conducting a green home inspection. By combining elements of energy audits and home inspections, this holistic approach provides homeowners with a snapshot of their home's current state and identifies areas for improvement. While not mandatory, the green home inspection process serves as a valuable starting point for those looking to embark on their green building journey.


Growing Interest in Professional Certification: Brett shared that there has been a significant increase in individuals seeking professional certification in the field of green building. People from diverse backgrounds, including trades, design, and sustainability enthusiasts, are drawn to serving in this capacity. The consumer-driven demand for healthier and more sustainable homes is fueling this trend, with individuals looking to make a positive impact on the environment through housing.


The Power of Observation and Education: Discussing the influence of observing others' green initiatives, Brett drew a parallel with the adoption of solar panels. Just as solar panels became more prevalent as neighbors installed them, green improvements can also spread through communities. While some green features may not be visible, utility companies are helping raise awareness by highlighting energy-efficient homes in comparison to others. By making green actions more visible and sharing knowledge, homeowners can inspire and educate one another.




Memorable Insights and Learning Experiences: Brett shared that each interview and learning opportunity brings something new, and he is continuously surprised by the wealth of knowledge gained from others. In a recent conversation, he discovered how battery systems, traditionally excluded from energy ratings, can now play a role in improving ratings by utilizing time-of-use strategies to reduce peak carbon emissions. These insights underscore the importance of constantly evolving and reevaluating our understanding of efficiency and sustainability.


Navigating Greenwashing and Ensuring Credibility: To combat greenwashing and ensure credibility, Brett emphasized the importance of third-party green building certifications. Programs like LEED (United States Green Building Council), National Green Building Standard (Home Innovation Lab), and Passive House provide verifiable metrics and standards for communicating green building achievements. Brett acknowledged that while these programs aren't perfect, they offer a starting point for maintaining transparency and credibility.


Taking Action in Your Home or Unit: For those new to green building, Brett recommended starting with a green home inspection or energy audit to understand the current state of their home. Furthermore, he highlighted the potential financial benefits of upcoming funding initiatives, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides significant funding for energy modeling and improvements, particularly for low to moderate-income households.


Brett Little shed light on the importance of education and accessible resources in the realm of green building. By leveraging open-source tools, conducting green home inspections and understanding and utilizing green home certifications the Green Building Institute provides one step to affordable housing.


Connect with Brett Little:

GreenHomeInstitute.org

Education Manager

616.458.6733

Grand Rapids, Michigan. Brett.Little@greenhomeinstitute.org

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