August 10, 2023

BBNW Trainee & Project Spotlight: Melissa Mulder-Wright, Step by Step Design LLC


We are excited to feature Melissa Mulder-Wright in this article, an eco-adaptive architectural designer, aspiring Phius Certified Consultant, and owner of Step by Step Design LLC, who offers her first-hand experience in high-performance building design.

As concern over wildfire smoke and other consequences of climate change grows, more and more people are looking for healthy and climate-resilient solutions in their homes. There is no better time than the present to seek resources on how to implement high-performance building practices as a remedy.

Melissa passionately states that "the majority of my clients have at least one health concern that is a focus for their design goals—improving indoor air quality is central to the health of everyone!" Before she became involved in the construction industry, Melissa spent more than twenty years as a social worker. Through this experience, she learned the importance of addressing wellbeing from a resilience and risk-minimization perspective and encouraging a more collaborative environment—all of which are applicable to her current profession!

Melissa completed the Sustainable Homes Professional (SHP) training and earned her designation in 2022. We were lucky enough to hear Melissa present in the SHP Project Showcase live webinar this past April. Melissa shared a retrospective look at a home she designed for a client in rural Washington, featuring many off-grid aspects due to concerns about frequent utility failures and wildfires in the area.

"SHP taught me the importance of understanding the role of building science when designing and building durable, high-performance structures. I feel a lot of gratitude for this project. It introduced me to Passive House (‘The World’s Leading Standard for Energy Efficient Construction’) and the SHP program. The retrospective analysis of the project allowed me to delve more deeply into the materials covered in the SHP and Passive House programs. I’m now in the process of becoming certified as a Phius Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) and Builder (CPHB).”

Melissa Mulder-Wright, Step by Step Design LLC

During her presentation, Melissa shared project details, insight into her design process and what she would’ve done differently, including, but not limited to, aiming for ENERGY STAR Single-Family and Passive House Certifications.

See the slides below for detailed information on Melissa's project specifications and the opportunities she identified for an improved design pathway:


Watch the full SHP Project Showcase recording to hear more from Melissa as well as Justin Wolverton of Noyes Development (Quality Assurance Director) and Daniel Durham of Durham Construction LLC (a home builder and remodeler), who discussed their unique SHP Project approaches and lessons learned.

To find out more about the Sustainable Homes Professional (SHP) training program, visit Earth Advantage's website.

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