Minnesota GreenStar Certification

April 3rd, 2010 by Tim Eian

Upon completion, the Passive House in the Woods will be earning certification from MN GreenStar. MN GreenStar is a green building program that was developed to address the unique building conditions that exist in a cold climate region. The program sets the standard for sustainable design and construction in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, so through certification, the Passive House in the Woods will be documented as a leader in green building.

MN GreenStar uses a checklist to determine the certification level: Bronze, Silver, or Gold. The certification level is based on the number of points the project earns. The Passive House in the Woods is projected to earn a Gold certification, the highest level possible. The checklist system of MN GreenStar allows the builder to examine individual components of the project across all areas of construction throughout the construction process.

There are several challenges with using the MN GreenStar program for the Passive House in the Woods. Some construction methods and components critical to passive house design can not be accurately accounted for in the HERS Index, a performance rating system used with the MN GreenStar program. Also, those same construction methods and components are not all included in the program’s checklist, and in fact, are actually better then items in the checklist. The MN GreenStar program, however, does provide an opportunity to earn points not captured by the checklist through the submittal of a proposal for innovation points. It is our hope that MN GreenStar will recognize these challenges and help inform the content of the checklist as the program continues to develop and improve.

In using the MN GreenStar program, both the client and the builder benefit. The documentation required by the certification process provides verification that the house is constructed to the standard MN GreenStar sets for green building. The checklist format is easily comprehendible by the client and encourages their involvement in the building process. The checklist can also inform the client in decisions they are responsible for making. In the case of the Passive House in the Woods, the checklist has helped the client select finishes, appliances, and water fixtures.

In certifying the Passive House in the Woods by a holistic green building program like MN GreenStar, the opportunity to examine the construction process and building techniques is created. The program not only strongly encourages and promotes sustainable design and construction, but ultimately makes for a better way to build.

Amanda Spice is a project developer at Morr Construction.


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