Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Greenbush Update - The Waiting Game

Before, we were waiting for the final drawings to be done (our architects pushed it through remarkably fast, so thank you!), and now we're playing the waiting game again.

Rendering for Greenbush, MN project, via Vivus Arhictecture + Design

This will hopefully meet the LEED-H criteria once it is built, use local materials, and also teach the local community and contractors about green building.

As I posted earlier, we are currently waiting for construction bids to come back. It is hunting season in Minnesota so we're expecting the first bids to come in by December 1st.

We are also exploring options for financing the construction loan. We have had one amazing person offer a personal donation but we will only use that if we cannot obtain the construction loan through the bank. The housing market has changed so drastically in the last 18 months and it is not as easy to get a fully-covered construction loan as it used to be, even for a green, energy-efficient house. We still need to sell the house eventually and the market isn't as promising as we'd like. The hope is to pre-sell the home first to someone working at the Central Boiler plant, since their expansion was what initially prompted the need for housing in that area.

In the meantime, I am going over the LEED-H criteria in anticipation of questions, questions, and questions!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Call for LEED Providers

USGBC announces a call for new LEED for Homes Certification Providers.

The attached Request for Qualifications (RFQ) includes background information on the LEED for Homes Program, the submittal instructions for organizations interested in applying to be selected as LEED for Homes Certification Providers, and a six-page submittal form.

USGBC plans to establish contractual relationships with approximately 20 new LEED for Homes Certification Providers. These Providers will be the primary verification and certification agents for the LEED for Homes program, with USGBC providing quality assurance oversight. Each Provider organization will be responsible for the selection, training, scheduling, and quality assurance of a team of in-field inspectors and/or green raters.

Submittals are due to USGBC by 5 PM EDT on Wednesday, November 28, 2007. Submittals that are not complete will be disqualified.

If you have questions, please send them to

In the LEED-Homes pilot program there were initially only 12 providers to be "responsible for selecting appropriate pilot projects and verifying that the homes were built to meet the requirements of the rating system". The provider for the Greenbush LEED-H project has done very well to accommodate our needs, but I have heard that for other projects it can be a challenge, both in terms of scheduling and location.

This is an interesting issue that green building programs face; to truly be a third-party certification system, certifiers should not technically be from either side of the camp (the agency that creates the certification standards nor the builder of the project), and yet they should be knowledgeable enough of both sides to certify a project. Ensuring there are enough qualified certifying bodies can be a demanding goal to achieve.

Now that the USGBC is launching LEED for Homes, they are calling for more providers. This will hopefully make the program accessible to more people in more regions.

By the way, if you are a USGBC member, voting for LEED-EB (Existing Buildings) and LEED-H is now open. Voting ends Monday, November 26, 2007 at 5:00 PM EST.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Greenbush Update

Last week on November 1st, the team met with local builders, contractors, and community members about the Greenbush project. Complete sets of blueprints as well as criteria and information about LEED for Homes was provided.

It is about to be hunting season, so the contractors will have one month to put together their bids.

Our initial thought was to have an open bidding process, but because of the turnout and loyalty from people since the beginning, only interested parties will have the opportunity to bid.

We have hired NWCAA to act as the supervisor on the project. We are still looking for a general contractor, which caused some initial confusion as to who was available to bid. We are encouraging each submitting general contractor needs to seek proposals from each subcontractor/contractor that has been involved so far, not just the ones they are used to working with. Once the proposals come in, we may go over everything and change subcontractors or even add more to make sure the project gets the most economic development impact. This is not a normal route for building construction, and makes some GCs wary, understandably so. However, this is why we hired Tim from NWCAA to supervise the GC.

This project is not "normal" and is attempting a different structure in order to reach the greatest amount of people. Aitkin was the same way - lots of questions and concerns and changes - and in the end, it worked out great.

One other concern expressed was the amount of work involved in documenting for LEED. After we choose all contractors, we will be holding a meeting with our LEED provider, who can hopefully answer some of their questions and spell the benefit for them. They have no problem understanding why energy-efficiency and "green" is good, but the documentation process seems like a bit much, so far.

Overall, the reception of the blueprints was positive, and the group seems anxious to get started!