Linden Hills couple builds sustainably

Andy Root and Jeanette Tinsley
Andy Root and Jeanette Tinsley

Andy Root and Jeanette Tinsley help customers create more environmentally friendly homes and offices as part of their business, Forteva Solar. This year, they’re applying those same principals to a home they’re building in Linden Hills.

Root and Tinsley, who share the business and a family together, are building a home that will include reclaimed materials and solar panels. They worked with the nonprofit Better Futures Minnesota to reclaim materials from a house they tore down and plan on interspersing parts of that house in their new home. Better Futures will sell parts of the reclaimed home that they do not use.

“It’s really cool to see part of the home live on, both in our house and in somebody else’s house,” Root said. “It ties in with the philosophy of being good stewards of the environment.”

Better Futures Minnesota works with homeowners and business owners on deconstruction projects, said Nick Swaggert, the nonprofit’s vice president of operations and business development. The organization also resells the material, does janitorial work, mows lawns and recycles appliances for Hennepin County.

The nonprofit employs men who have a history of incarceration, homelessness, poverty and untreated mental and physical health challenges, providing them with wraparound services such as housing and transportation.

Swaggert said the nonprofit aims to recycle or reuse 85 percent of the houses it deconstructs. It sells the materials at its ReUse Warehouse in the Longfellow neighborhood.

Better Futures does about 40 deconstruction projects per year, Swaggert said.

Root and Tinsley appeared excited about promoting the nonprofit’s efforts. They said they want to share their story of sustainable building in the hopes of inspiring others to take similar steps.

“More stories like this will help people realize what they can do to make a difference,” Tinsley said.

Root, who has a background in real estate redevelopment, founded Forteva Solar in 2014. The firm specializes in designing and installing custom clean energy products, such as solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, for commercial building owners, restaurants, retail businesses, real estate developers and custom home builders.

Root and Tinsley in part credited solar energy legislation passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013 for making the business possible. That legislation set a solar-energy standard for public utilities, requiring that at least 1.5 percent of their retail electricity sales come from solar energy by 2020.

The state’s solar capacity has gone from 37 megawatts in 2014 to 579 megawatts as of Oct. 1, according to the Department of Commerce.

Forteva has installed solar panels on seven to 12 buildings Root owns.

“As a building owner, it makes a lot of sense,” he said.

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