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News

The Time for RCF is Now

Brian Bosgraaf Guest Column in Grand Rapids Business Journal

As a builder of more than 800 homes in the West Michigan area over the last 20 plus years, I have been required by new homeowners to justify the cost of incorporating energy efficient and sustainable technologies based on a Return On Investment (ROI). The cost of highly efficient systems, additional insulation, and upgraded features must, in the eyes of most buyers, offer an equal reduction in home heating and cooling costs or increased in resale value. This ROI approach to reducing home energy consumption must be replaced by forward thinking Reduced Carbon Footprint (RCF).

While the growing number of new homes built to Green Built and LEED standards is a welcome improvement, it has little impact on overall energy consumption of the housing stock. The energy savings produced by these new “tight” homes pale in comparison to what is wasted by existing neighboring dwellings. Conservative estimates place average home energy loss at 30%, which means the billions of dollars we are investing in alternative energy will continue to be wasted if we do not correct the 100 million plus “average” American homes.

We must place a greater emphasis on RCF by auditing and repairing existing residential dwellings. Even those homes built within the past few years have an average combined air leakage equal to a 2′ x 2′ hole, through vents, recessed lighting, insulation gaps, and construction defects. Every house can be made more energy efficient, more comfortable and a healthier living environment by conducting a Performance Energy Audit and making the suggested improvements.

There is an emergence of companies with both audit and repair capabilities (Dwelltech Solutions was founded last year). This burgeoning industry coincides with utility mandates to offer their customers financial incentives to make their homes more energy efficient and with state and federal government programs that help finance such improvements.

After all, doesn’t it make sense to stop “wasting energy” before we spend billions seeking new alternative energy sources? It is time we move from ROI thinking to RCF.

Make 2011 Your Forever ‘Green’ Summer

Cottage Home Summer’s Gate Homes Awarded LEED Platinum Certification

South Haven, Mich., July 22, 2011 — Cottage Home has once again achieved LEED® Platinum certification for the design and construction of the company’s two newest homes located in Summer’s Gate – the award-winning Lake Michigan community in South Haven.

LEED Platinum certification is the highest level of achievement in green homebuilding from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED Green Building Rating System is the USGBC’s leading ranking classification for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy-efficient and high-performing buildings.

Both LEED certified homes, Summer’s Gate Four and Summer’s Gate Eight, are the final homes available in the 12-home community.

Summer’s Gate Four features:

  • 1,818 square feet of well-appointed and furnished living
  • 3 bedrooms, a bunkroom and 2 1/2 baths
  • 377 square feet of decks and porches and an upper level loft

Summer’s Gate Eight offers:

  • 1,736 square feet of finished living space, fully furnished and outfitted
  • 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths
  • Finished private garage loft featuring a look out balcony

The many benefits of building a LEED certified home include lower energy and water bills, greater efficiency and comfort, higher quality air and less greenhouse gas emissions. “We are honored to achieve LEED Platinum certification for both homes in the Summer’s Gate community,” said Cottage Home president, Brian Bosgraaf. “Cottage Home has been committed to building energy-efficient, sustainable homes since our beginning. It’s rewarding that our homes continue to be recognized by the USGBC for sustainability.”

Cottage Home is ReGreening West Michigan

Lakeshore Builder Helps Existing Homeowners Achieve LEED® Certification

Holland, Michigan… Cottage Home, designers and builders of well-appointed beach houses and cottages, announced it is now offering renovation services designed to bring existing homes into compliance for LEED certification through the LEED for Homes program. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the program is an extension of REGREEN, the first nationwide green residential remodeling program for existing homes.

“Sustainable design is the core of our building process,” said Brian Bosgraaf, Owner and Designer, Cottage Home. “We’re now remodeling existing homes to meet these higher criteria, capitalizing on the value of facility re-use and affording homeowners the satisfaction of knowing their home is LEED certified. Our goals are still the same with remodeling as if we were to build new: to create homes that use less energy, water and natural resources with unmatched comfort and sustainability.”

For an existing home to be LEED renovated, the project must include a ‘gut’ rehab, including drywall removal to the studs in at least one wall and exterior ceiling. Homes must also meet the prerequisites in the LEED for Homes rating system. The REGREEN program addresses the fundamental aspects of any green renovation, including the site of the home, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

As REGREEN and LEED Trained professionals, Cottage Home staff members have been trained in product selection, building systems integration and green strategies. Cottage Home has a long history of environmental stewardship, as well as sustainable design and building processes. Cottage Home is a member of LEED for Homes and Green Built Michigan as well as many other conservation organizations.

LEED Homes’ Popularity Continues to Grow

Cottage Home To Showcase Beach Homes in Upcoming Bus Tour

South Haven, Mich., April 18, 2011 – Cutting energy and water consumption by 30 to 60 percent, lowering greenhouse emissions, and reducing exposure to mold, mildew and other toxins are a few of the persuasive reasons why more and more people are opting for sustainable LEED homes.

The trend toward greener home design and construction is growing both nationwide and along the West Michigan lakeshore. The highest level of sustainability is designing and building to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Earlier this month, the LEED for Homes program gave a green stamp of approval on the 10,000th home nationwide, and there are more than 38,000 additional properties in progress.

To help area residents get a better idea of the possibilities for LEED-certifying a home in West Michigan, Cottage Home is sponsoring a LEED Home Tour of properties that the homebuilder designed and built along the lakeshore.

“Our goal is to improve existing lakeshore sites with new beach homes that are better for the environment and for homeowners’ quality of life,” said Brian Bosgraaf, Cottage Home president. “You don’t have to start from scratch; in fact, that’s not necessarily the most responsible way to approach a LEED-designed home.”

The Cottage Home bus tour event will be held May 6. Attendees will board a bus at Hawks Head Golf Course for an afternoon tour of five beach homes in the South Haven area before heading back to the course club house for an hors d’oeuvre and drink reception.

The cost of the event is $50 per person, with proceeds going toward the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy – an organization dedicated to protecting the diversity, stability and beauty of southwest Michigan by preserving the area’s natural and scenic lands.

For additional information on the LEED program, go to www.usgbc.org/leed.

Cottage Home Receives Two New LEED Designations

Holland, Mich., January 27, 2011 – Cottage Home, designers and builders of well appointed beach houses and cottages, announced today that two new homes achieved LEED® Certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED Green Building Rating System is the USGBC’s leading ranking classification for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy-efficient and high-performing buildings.

The North Beach Cottage: LEED PLATINUM
The North Beach Cottage’s location on South Haven’s North Beach, presented unique rebuild challenges and made the North Beach Cottage the perfect candidate for LEED Platinum certification — the highest possible level awarded by the USGBC. Maximum use of the existing site was the cornerstone of the sustainable plan. Other features include a compact water heating system design using an on-demand water heater and efficient water fixtures that exceed the EPA WaterSense guidelines, a concrete patio and composite siding made from recycled material, durable wood floor for the main level, and second level carpeting that is GreenGuard (low VOC) certified.

LakeBridge One: LEED SILVER
LakeBridge One is the last of the seven homes built in the LakeBridge lakefront community. Indigenous and non-invasive landscaping are part of a carefully designed drainage and water collection system, as well as a zoned irrigation system to minimize water use. Hardscaping is permeable with special pavers, also channeling runoff to the community’s rain garden.

In addition, durable composite siding, locally harvested wood floors, and GreenGuard carpet was used throughout the home. Air quality and energy efficiency were achieved through foam insulation and air seals, with a high efficiency HVAC system sized precisely for the home. As an additional heating measure, a high efficiency boiler heats the enclosed porch space while meeting the increased demand of hot water in the summer months.

“It’s rewarding that our homes continue to be recognized by the USGBC for sustainability,” said Brian Bosgraaf, President, Cottage Home. “Our mission allows us to deliver sustainable, long term resource management without compromising lakefront lifestyle.”

Cottage Home Announces Completion of Holland’s First LEED Certified Home

Local builder Brian Bosgraaf, and company Cottage Home, recently finished the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certified home in the Holland area. This home, which was LEED Certified at the Silver level, was built for their clients who recently moved to the area from Switzerland. It demonstrates a number of unique energy efficiency, sustainability and environmentally responsible features.

One such feature is a full geothermal heating and cooling system. The Lake Macatawa home utilizes 2,700 feet of closed loop tubing which was placed into the lake for this purpose. From that point, heat pumps were installed to capture the natural heat of the water, which passes through a series of coils, providing radiant heat into the floors of the home. In the summer, the home is cooled in a reverse manner, as the heat is extracted from the indoors and passed outside.

Other features that led to this high level of certification include: advanced insulation materials and techniques, low water usage plumbing fixtures, appliances and irrigation systems, low electric usage features, an intricate native and zoned landscape plan, and a number of indoor air quality assurance measures.

Cottage Home has just begun construction on another green home in its lakefront community of Suequehanna (Glenn, Michigan), which will be a model of sustainable design and LEED building practices. The home was completed in August.

vanEyk Earns LEED Accredited Professional – Homes

Cottage Home VP Reaches Advanced Level of Certification

Holland, Mich., Mar. 15, 2010 – Cottage Home, designers and builders of well appointed beach houses and cottages, announced today that Jeremy vanEyk, Vice President and Construction Manager, has achieved the status of LEED Accredited Professional – Homes. The LEED professional credentialing program was developed to encourage green building professionals to maintain and advance their knowledge and expertise. vanEyk is one of only four industry experts in the state of Michigan to have achieved this advanced level of certification.

The LEED AP Homes credential provides assurances of an individual’s current level of competence and is the mark of the most qualified, educated, and influential green building professionals in the marketplace. This specialty provides a standard for professionals participating in the design and construction of high-performance green homes that use less energy, water, and natural resources; create less waste; and are more healthful and comfortable for the occupants.

“Jeremy’s accreditation underscores our commitment to sustainable design and construction in all our homes and renovations,” commented Brian Bosgraaf, President, Cottage Home. “We congratulate Jeremy on achieving this milestone.”

Cottage Home has built 6 LEED certified homes, and is currently constructing two homes in South Haven which are expected to achieve certification as well. Cottage Home specializes in designing and building well-appointed beach houses and cottages along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, from St. Joseph to Grand Haven.

Won More: Cottage Home Receives 2nd Community Partnership Award

2009 Blue Green Gala Raises Awareness and Funding

Holland, Michigan… Cottage Home announced today that the company has been awarded the 2009 Business Excellence Award for Community Partnership by the South Haven Chamber of Commerce. Cottage Home was cited for its Blue Green Gala held last August in South Haven.

The Blue Green Gala focused on “Keeping It Blue By Making It Green”: a sustainable event showcasing two new homes to raise money for the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. The event drew nearly 200 persons from Chicago to Grand Haven, with ticket sales totaling more than $10,000. Cottage Home matched the ticket proceeds; so the total donation to the Michigan Maritime Museum exceeded $20,000.

Todd Sanford and Brian Bosgraaf Join SWMLC Board

Two west Michigan business leaders have joined the board of directors of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) – Todd Sanford, CEO and owner, Sanford Financial Services, in Portage, and Brian Bosgraaf, president and designer, Cottage Home, Inc. in Holland.

“We are extremely pleased that Brian and Todd have joined our board of directors,” said C. Larry Edris, SWMLC board president. “Their varied expertise and commitment to land protection is a good fit with our organization. They will both be invaluable in helping us as we move forward with our partnerships and aggressive conservation plans in 2009 and beyond.”

Todd Sanford, whose business is a division of Raymond James, has been a certified financial planner since 1991. He was named to the Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008. Among his myriad of skills, he brings leadership and fund-raising experience. Sanford currently serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement and was president of Kalamazoo In Bloom in 2007 and 2008. Previous board experience includes the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He is a former Rotarian and served as past president of the Kalamazoo Sunrise Club. Sanford’s environmental activities have included clean-up of Portage Creek and working with the native Belize population on crop sustainability.

Said Sanford, “My love for the outdoors and natural undisturbed land led me to join the board of directors of SWMLC, and I am very pleased to have been elected. I am passionate about the future viability of our planet for my children and future grandchildren.”

Brian Bosgraaf – a Certified Green Professional through the National Association of Home Builders – is involved in Green Built Michigan and the U.S. Green Building Council. Concurrently, Cottage Home has been involved in green building since its inception in 2000, and its homes and developments are designed to reflect Bosgraaf’s environmental concerns. Each home is designed and constructed to be energy efficient and sustainable. Bosgraaf received the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society Heritage Preservation Award for New Construction in 2008 and is a past recipient of the Pacesetter Award. Bosgraaf is well-versed in state environmental issues such as dunes and high-risk erosion, and in land issues such as zoning. Previous board experience includes Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity where he served as president, both the National and Michigan Association of Home Builders, as well as many education and Christian community organizations. Bosgraaf is a native and lifelong resident of west Michigan.

Said Bosgraaf, “I am delighted to be able to serve on the SWMLC board of directors. My passion about the lakeshore land and the environment inspires me to help preserve this fantastic natural resource that Michigan has been blessed with.”

To learn more about SWMLC, call the SWMLC office at (269) 324-1600 or visit their web site at www.SWMLC.org.

SWMLC serves the nine counties of southwest Michigan, and has protected over 7,500 acres since its inception as an all-volunteer organization in 1991. The Conservancy currently has six staff and 170 active volunteers and is supported by 1,200 household memberships.

SWMLC’s partnerships include collaborative work with other land conservancies along the eastern Lake Michigan shoreline as part of the Michigan Dune Alliance, working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect federally endangered species, working with local governments to protect publicly accessible open space, and working with the Michigan Stewardship Network to promote stewardship activities. SWMLC is also working to protect area watersheds, including the Paw Paw River Watershed, Black River Watershed, Rocky River Watershed, and Prairieville Creek Watershed.

Cottage Home Receives Quality of Excellence Awards

Holland, Michigan… Cottage Home, designers and builders of well-appointed beach houses and cottages, has added 3 more awards to the company’s growing portfolio of achievements.

The Home & Builder’s Association of Greater Grand Rapids, Sales & Marketing Council presented Awards of Excellence to Cottage Home for Best Exterior Design $500,001 – $650-000, Best Exterior Design $1,000,001 +, Best Green Built Home $1,000,001 + and Best Owner’s Suite $500,001 – $650,000.

The awards were presented for recently competed lakefront homes in Holland and South Haven, Michigan.