New Habitat for Humanity Class Offers Path to LEED Accreditation

A Grand Rapids LEED Certified home (right) built by Habitat for Humanity. Photo Credit: MLive, Dave Raczkowski

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County is launching a course that combines the Habitat for Humanity cause with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Accredited Professional program. The class, HabitatPro, is designed for professionals and students seeking LEED Project Experience in order to attain LEED Accreditation.

Project experience is a prerequisite for professionals to earn accreditation in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program , which is difficult for emerging professionals with no project experience, and practically impossible for ones that are not yet employed.  Habitat for Humanity faced a related problem: it needed green building professionals to help it build energy efficient, affordable, LEED-certified homes.

HabitatPro was co-founded by former AmeriCorps member Shane Gring. The program has been developing for the past year and a half and Kent County is the first county to run the program outside of the program’s birthplace in Colorado. Completion of the program qualifies participants for any of the LEED Professional Exams such as Green Associate, BD+C, Homes, O+M, ID+C, and ND.  All personal benefits are in addition to providing a low-income family with a green and affordable home. “It is an awesome way to get everyone involved in LEED Project, that is our goal,” says Gring.

HabitatPro allows participants to engage in the program as personal schedules and interests allow. The program lasts four months and the only requirement during this time is to gain 50 hours of project experience. These hours can be earned through several opportunities, such as documentation assignments, attending preliminary design meetings, and onsite build days. Completion of the class launches professionals into “advancing the sustainability movement in the construction world in general, not just in the LEED Program,” says Gring.

Contributing to a building project does not require any previous experience. HabitatPro participants get to see the whole project from the ground up, which Gring considers “the most enjoyable part” of the HabitatPro experience. Participants are involved in every aspect of the building project, from planning and strategy lectures to the actual construction. In addition, Habitat families are required to contribute to their own building project, so participants get the chance to work with and familiarize themselves with the family they are building for.

“It is extremely important for these families to have green homes,” says Gring. By cutting back on energy consumption, using less water, and lowering utility costs in general, living in a green home saves over $51,000 over a 30-year period compared to a conventional house, according to HabitatPro . For a family in need, reducing these expenses dramatically improves quality of life.

HabitatPro in Grand Rapids is currently accepting participants. The class will begin in early 2012. Register at

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