Program adds green certification for state builders
- Article by: Jim Buchta
- Star Tribune
- August 22, 2007 - 11:04 PM
Minnesota will be one of a few states in the nation with its own green certification program aimed at new and remodeled houses.
Minnesota GreenStar -- a new set of standards aimed at increasing durability, energy efficiency and indoor air quality -- was launched Wednesday at a news conference at a remodeled house in St. Louis Park.
Brad Moore, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), praised the program and the organizations that developed it, saying, "This will create a sea change for Minnesota."
The program, funded in part with a grant from the MPCA, is voluntary and will have different criteria depending on the type of project. The standards for new construction, for example, will be different from those for a remodeling project. And the standards for an addition will be different from those for a simple kitchen remodel.
The certification program is a collaboration among the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the Minneapolis-based Green Institute, which had been considering its own green building standards, but decided instead to join forces.
Training for builders and remodelers is mandatory, and projects will require inspection and performance testing at various stages by third-party raters, including the Center for Energy and the Environment and the Neighborhood Energy Connection.
Although there are several national certification programs administered by public and private organizations, this program is being touted as the first that takes into account the state's climate and building conditions. The pilot phase of the program includes 20 new houses and 20 houses that are being remodeled, including Lauri and Lawrence Kraft's St. Louis Park home, which was the site of the program announcement.
During a tour, remodeler Mike Otto pointed out several construction techniques that will help the house earn Minnesota GreenStar certification, including recycled kitchen tiles, formaldehyde-free subfloors in the kitchen and a radon-removal system in the new basement.
Broad certification for remodeling projects will begin in October, while new homes will be certified starting in March.
The Green Institute's executive director, Corey Brinkema, said that the program is a step toward offering homeowners more durable, healthy housing options, and that the program will be an effective way to bring green building into the mainstream. Its guidelines will not supplant the state's building or mechanical codes, but they are geared to augment them by creating additional standards.
Going through the certification process will add to the cost of a house, but how much depends on the scope of the project, said Michael Noonan, Minnesota division president for Toll Brothers and this year's builders association president.
He added that owners of these houses can recoup the additional costs through lower energy and maintenance expenses. Quoting the National Association of Home Builders, Noonan said that the residential green building market is now worth about $7.4 billion -- representing about 2 percent of all housing starts -- but is expected to grow to from 5 to 10 percent of all construction activity with a value of $19 billion to $38 billion.
Jim Buchta 612-673-7376
Jim Buchta email@example.com
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