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Posted on Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Mission Zero Fest offers a free education about green living

By Lisa Carolin

This weekend the Water Hill neighborhood of northwest Ann Arbor, home to a music festival last month, will be home to a green festival called the Mission Zero Fest. It's the second year of the event, which will now feature tours of six homes in the neighborhood, workshops about energy efficiency and sustainable living, music, food carts and more.

Mission Zero Fest gets under way Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. and goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The center of activity takes place in the 700 block of Fountain Street, just south of Summit.

"We chose the Water Hill neighborhood because three of our organizers live right on the block, we know a lot of people, and there are a lot of green homes," said Doug Selby, festival organizer and president of Meadowlark Builders.


Solar panels on the home of John and Pamela Swerdlow, which shares a wall with Scott Phillips' house, are similar to the panels on Phillps' home.

Angela J. Cesere |

Last year's debut event attracted about 500 people according to Selby. He says that when some of the houses have sold in the neighborhood, new residents have opted to build the green way. A net zero house is one that produces at least as much energy as it uses.

"We think green building is important," said Kathleen Folger, whose house at 1303 Brook St. is on the tour. "You can hear about ideas, but until you see them in action, it's hard to understand."

Folger's home includes geothermal heating and cooling, high energy efficient windows, a low flow shower head, and dual flush toilets that use as much water as needed. The house was torn down and rebuilt in 2009 except for the chimney and basement, to which foam insulation was added behind the walls.

"Aesthetics are important to us," said Folger. "Energy efficient homes don't have to look any different."

Bob Simons, who along with his wife Susan Theut just moved into the totally remodeled home at 215 W. Summit St. last November, also will have a home on the tour.

"The basic construction of the home insulates and seals and reduces energy costs," said Simons. "We had a vision of a green home even before we bought this house."

"We're a net zero energy home," said Scott Phillips, whose house at 723 Spring St. will also be one on the weekend tour. "It was built new by Meadowlark Builders in 2008. We added solar panels to the roof last August, and our DTE bills have been negative. They buy the electricity back from us."

Phillips says that he loves showing off the 4,000-square-foot home.

"We want to open people's minds," he said.

The Mission Zero Fest is being organized by environmental nonprofit groups including the Ecology Center, League of Conservation Voters, the Clean Energy Coalition, Clean Water Action and the city of Ann Arbor. Admission is free.



Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

More and more homes are being built greener by necessity and code requirements. One by product of being greener is saving money on heating and cooling bills. A number of these projects were built during the incentives offered by the Obama administration which have expired. Everyone does this for various personal reasons but it is still worth checking it out. Financially many of the green building ideas don't have a reasonable payback period but if it makes you feel that you are a better steward of the planet AND you have the big money to pay for the savings upfront then I would recommend being as green as you can afford to be. Green definitely takes green money to make it happen. The only thing I don't like about the whole movement is the government talking about raising energy costs artificially to force people to be "greener". If we had the money to do so we would without the punitive sanctions they want to impose. The problem is that those who legislate live in a fantasy land paid for by the taxpayers with lifetime benefits and full pay for life. They aslo happen to be the ones who have created the fiscal disaster that is pending.............


Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

If they can afford to, few people have a problem with spending cash up front on elements of a house that will (not might) result in a reduction in expenses in the short and long run – say a return on investment of three years or so. That is not what this is about though – it is government creating a polluted, artificial economy that raises costs in one sector in order for the government to create an illusion of viability in another – the thing you object to. That happens every day in obama land, as is adding criteria like "living wage" and other social engineering gimmicks that result in product manufacturing being moved over seas faster then they would otherwise. The notion that anyone building a house or driving a car can be "…a better steward of the planet…." is this generation's greatest lie. It is the snake oil of our age, sold by the clueless mass media and distributed in pipelines and propagated by those who can't think past the last sound bite. This is the foundation of obamas trillions in wasted tax dollars that will be paid by the HARD WORK of this generation's GRAND CHILDREN. …but other then that, sure – feel better.


Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Ted Kennedy and likely John Dingle. Get a clue


Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Mixmaster - From Social Security: Latest index " The national average wage index for 2010 is 41,673.83. The index is 2.36 percent higher than the index for 2009." Almost every Senator and Congressman collects more than the average wage in the United States plus lifetime benefits after only one term. That's the average. There are those who if they put in enough years and contribute even more to the financial mess this coutry is in that can collect their full legislators salary. They are supposed to be public servants, not feed at the public trough for the rest of their lives.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

Please find ONE person, just ONE, who "legislates" who gets lifetime benefits and full pay for life. You know that you're making this up and have no facts to back up your scurrilous claim. You're the one one living in a fantasy world.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

The haters are out in force today. Lot's of them trying to inject partisan politics into this whole non-political event.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

I've never read so many comments from so many people unclear on what it means to be "green". And here in Ann Arbor! I used to think that Ann Arbor was a pretty progressive city with a fairly well educated population, now I'm starting to think otherwise.


Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Oh ouch. I'm a LEED AP BD+C so I probably know a lot more about this fraud then most of you ever will. Truth hurts - the "educated" you are so envious of are the first to figure out what a FRAUD most of the green movement is. Of course that does not mean it's all dumb - there are good ideas in there but it takes an expert to know truth from eco fantasy. Start with the basic fantasy that American Consumers control the earth's weather and lie that CO2 is the mechanism. Oil independence from a global commodity traded by non government entities is also pure gibberish despite what your hero Bill ORielly seems to think. After you figure out those little gems, the rest is easy.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

Funny how many people can't find a single positive thing to say about this article.


Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

"Mission zero" referring as the amount of logic/common sense in this green feast, then it is very well named. Positive!


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

If we all want to be about going green, could someone explain this to me.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Good to see that some of the ugliest houses in AA are all in one easy to avoid place! Zero what? I would love to corner some of these homeowners and ask them what they think they are accomplishing other then pre-paying utilities for decades while absorbing the cash of other taxpayers with obama-buck tax write-offs. Seriously – it's time to stick a fork in this nonsense – it's done.


Sun, Jun 10, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

1. Are your mythical price reductions retroactive to these home owners? LOL Actually, the net cost is getting higher as these farcical "green" frauds are better understood by the clueless political leaders and obama buck tax cuts and other incentives are allowed to EXPIRE. Most of these shacks, ugly as they are, would cost vastly more of their MONEY to construct today so would NOT BE BUILT. The fact that solar panels are coming down thanks to the Chinese, is irrelevant. 2. Some families get free turkeys at Thanksgiving every year! 3. Golf carts are tax deductible. 4. It is obama who is wasting trillions in taxpayer dollars on schemes that make no sense to anyone but him, his campaign contributors who are collecting the checks and his socialist buddies. 5. Have more respect for the wisdom of those who built the worlds more powerful nation and economy and a LOT LESS FOR THOSE WHO ARE TEARING IT DOWN TODAY. Many who write here are far out of their leagues. 6. Your road rant is out of the hippie handbook but terribly misguided. It is the national road system that supports the trucking that makes the US the most powerful economy in the history of the world. Roads are an excellent investment when done intelligently, as is rail based mass transit. That is entirely different from the sprawl issue.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

4. It must have been Obama who introduced the moprtgage tax deduction to artificaially inflate the value of homes 5. Obama also is responsible for that silly child tax deduction. Why should you get a deduction because you CHOOSE to have a child. They aren't a good investment either, They cost a lot of money for the chance that they could make enough to pay a portion of it back 6. Roads are a horrible investment as well. We would be better served sticking with horse and buggy's It would be safer (less accidents). That famous liberal Eisenhower and his silly Interstate Highway system.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

1, The cost of renewables is coming down rapidly 2. I guess people who invested in technology should have "stuck a fork in the nonsense" "1981 IBM joins the computer race by announcing the IBM Personal Computer on August 12, 1981, which runs the new MS-DOS operating system and has a starting price of $1,565." Yep, prices never came down for every day users of computers. 3. Computers are tax deductible for every business out there. Is you rposition that those businesses should not get credit for investing in new technology. Accounting could be done the old fashioned way, pencil and paper.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

The greenest house is the one that is already built. It takes a long time to recover from tearing a house down and then building a new (usually) bigger one, regardless of the current or projected energy consumption.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

This is great, it really makes you feel like you are doing something to save the planet! But really, where is the science to prove that not being "green" hurts the planet? I guess it's a religious thing because you have to "BELIEVE"


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

XMO- Apparently, YOUR religion doesn't teach stewardship of the planet. So, you must not believe in pollution or greenhouse gasses or any of the other things that we know are detrimental to life on earth. But you're not worried are you, because Jesus is going to clean up after you, right?! I BELIEVE you're not very smart.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Maybe the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, for starters.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

"where is the science to prove that not being "green" hurts the planet?" I would offer as a partial answer the 2011-2012 "Michigan Fish Advisory" subtitled "A Family Guide to Eating Michigan Fish"


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

According to the Obama administration a "green job " is. The janitor at a plant that has solar panels for its bathroom lights. The person that cuts the grass at the same plant. The window washer. Anything to make the jobs outlook better!


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Doesn't have much to do with this article.

Superior Twp voter

Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

SO true!