2018 HOMES Summit - A Culture Shift

A lot has changed with Habitat for Humanity in Michigan since the first HOMES Green Building Summit in 2010. The HFHM Sustainable Building program had more than a year of mixed success under its belt, and though a handful of affiliates were building to the EPA’s Energy Star program standards, most Habitat homes in the state still just met mandatory code requirements. Since 2004, the Michigan Public Service Commission had been offering affiliates meaningful incentives to achieve higher performance, but the learning curve and other factors discouraged most affiliates from getting on board.

When the MPSC energy efficiency grant program fell by the wayside in 2010, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority upped their ante with the Down Payment Assistance grant. Their policy for Community Development programs now required Energy Star performance, and to help affiliates achieve this they raised the amount of the grant from $10,000.00 to $12,000.00 per qualified household. There is no better incentive to build a high-performance home than a huge down payment assistance grant for low-income home buyers.

By 2012, all Michigan affiliates participating in programs administered by HFHM - including DPA - were certifying new homes to the Energy Star program. It turns out it wasn’t that difficult after all. It was a simple matter of making a few minor changes to improve energy performance by 15 to 20 percent. And affiliates proved that the utility bill savings were greater than the amount added to the mortgage, earning a positive cash flow for low-income Habitat families.

Fast forward five more years. Habitat survived the latent effects of the economic downturn, partly by responding with increased housing alternatives including improving existing housing stock. The Energy Star program has evolved into a different beast with new challenges. Our collective understanding of building science has vastly affected the ways we build, rehab, and repair houses. And we continue to advance together by sharing our experiences, knowledge, and expertise with one another openly, freely, and in true partnership fashion.

The culture of Habitat is the sum of the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the people involved in the mission. Our culture has been shifting as we continue our growth together. We are coming up to our ninth opportunity to meld once again at the HOMES Summit January 30 through February 1. Please be a part of this significant event by communing with your peers for three days in the beautiful forested surroundings of the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan.

Register today!

Have questions about the HOMES Summit? Email Thom Phillips or Jessica Rick for more information. 

Thom Phillips

Sustainable Housing Director