Minneapolis architect talks about energy conservavtion in home building

Minneapolis architect talks about energy conservavtion in home building

Rick Carter has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, is a licensed architect in six states and a LEED Accredited Professional. Carter, who specializes in sustainable design, is the senior vice president in LHB Corporation's Minneapolis office and past president of the American Institute of Architects' Minnesota Chapter.

How interested in green design are home builders and buyers in the Twin Cities?

"Over the 15 years we've been here, 10 of them were pretty lonely - we had to search pretty hard [for clients interested in green building]. Green building has ramped up pretty quickly in the last few years, though. Now that green is 'in' almost every time we get a request [for a design] it gets mentioned. I'd say in the builder and design community it's pretty popular too. Most of the large commercial contractors I work with see it as a marketing opportunity for them. They seem to totally get it."

What are the distinctive challenges facing green design in Minnesota?

"The main thing is the cold climate. It's what we're used to, but, for example, an early version of LEED gave points for a naturally ventilated building. We obviously can't do that here. I think, generally speaking, they've done a good job addressing things like that in the newer versions. It would be great to utilize that, but it sort of penalized our part of the country."

What green building standards do you follow?

"There are several we follow. We have the Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines. And there's also another national set called Green Communities for affordable housing, and that's now required on state-funded affordable housing, so it's pretty prolific. All the programs have similar goals. There's also a set of guidelines for builders, called Minnesota Green Star. It's pretty new but it's going to be pretty widely accepted. That's quite a bit different than LEED in that's it's more prescriptive."

What would you suggest to a homeowner interested in green building?

"I would tell them to get in touch with the Builders Association of Minnesota or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and ask about the Green Star system. Today, I would recommend LEED because it's got a little more name recognition, but in our market, I think Green Star is going to be much more prolific than LEED over time. LEED is a national program and is kind of one size fits all, whereas Green Star is by local builders, for local builders. Also, look into the architectural community and find some architects who are interested. Even if they don't need an architect, one can probably point them in the right direction as far as builders go."

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