Green report

Architectural firm aims for LEED certification

A Southwest architectural firm is aiming to achieve one of the highest certifications in green building for its work on a new Kenwood home.

The East Isles-based Domain Architecture & Design began work last year on the home, located on the 2500 block of Upton Avenue South. When it finishes, it plans to receive a LEED gold designation for the house.

As a quick aside, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a program run by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council; it’s a point-based system that certifies buildings based on green-building standards. Gold is the second-highest certification, under platinum.  

One of the biggest features of the home is the use of what are called structural insulated panels — each one is a thick layer of foam sandwiched between plywood-like boards. The panels cut down on construction waste and provide better soundproofing and insulation than standard materials.

The home will also feature a full range of energy-efficient appliances and low-flow water fixtures. The landscaping will incorporate native species and rain gardens. The home will share a driveway with the neighboring property, and the driveway will be built with permeable pavers, which allow water to seep into the ground, rather than running into the storm sewer.

Construction is expected to be completed in April.

If you’re curious to learn more about LEED, check out the Green Building Council’s website at www.usgbc.org. Domain Architecture’s website, which contains more information on their work on LEED-certified homes, is at www.domainarch.com.

National award for local company

The French Meadow Bakery & Café recently received national recognition for its trio of airport restaurants.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) honored French Meadow last month with a 2008 Proggy Award for "Best Airport Concessions." The nonprofit gives the awards (yep, the name is short for "progressive") each year to companies and people aligned with its animal-rights mission, in a variety of categories ranging from food and entertainment to clothing and companies.

"Thanks to the French Meadow Bakery and Café, flying the friendly skies just got a little animal-friendlier," PETA said in a release announcing the awards.
"… French Meadow’s bakery items are designed to ‘keep your engine running and your body healthy’— and a healthy body always comes in handy when you’re battling long lines and even longer layovers at the airport!"

French Meadow has a location at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, as well as one at JFK in New York City and at Logan International in Boston.

A networking opportunity for green business owners

If you own a business that promotes sustainability and you’re looking for fresh ideas and networking opportunities, then EcoTuesday is for you.

The Minneapolis chapter of the national organization has been around for over a year. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday evening of every month, and generally rotate between the downtown Pizza Lucé and Southwest locations including Twin Cities Green and Galactic Pizza. Meetings typically feature time for socializing and then a speaker from the local sustainable business community.

There isn’t an EcoTuesday scheduled for this month, but there’s already one in the works for February, said organizer Nora Pittenger.

For more information, go to www.ecotuesday.com.

Et cetera

France 44, the wine, liquor and cheese shop at France Avenue & 44th Street, has converted 95 percent of its lighting to LED to save energy costs.

Green report

Making green building affordable in Kingfield

The first green-built affordable home in Kingfield is now under construction.

The house, at 4307 Wentworth Ave., had been on the Kingfield Neighborhood Association’s radar for several years. Hennepin County seized it a few years ago following foreclosure.

Then the county, with grants in hand to pursue a green-building project, partnered with the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, a South Minneapolis organization that builds affordable housing and has completed several projects in Southwest.

The house is being built with sustainable and recycled materials and will have geothermal heating, high-efficiency appliances and lighting, and other features. The builders plan to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification when construction is complete.

Jeff Washburne, the Land Trust’s executive director, said the house will be sold for $193,000 — well below the current average home price in the neighborhood.

"You can’t buy a house for that price in the neighborhood right now," said Sarah Linnes-Robinson, KFNA’s executive director.

To be eligible, buyers must make 80 percent or less of the state’s median income.

The Land Trust has teamed up with KFNA to find a buyer for the house. Linnes-Robinson said that, ideally, the house would be sold to a current Kingfield resident.

There’s a public meeting Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park building on Nicollet Avenue at 41st Street. Attendees can learn more about the project and about green building, and can speak with Land Trust representatives about purchasing the house.

Using your tax dollars to buy and build green

One of the city’s New Year’s resolutions: Buy green.

The city’s new green purchasing policy, announced late last month, began Jan. 1. It calls on all city departments to purchase sustainable and environmentally friendly products whenever possible (translation: whenever they’re readily available and don’t cost significantly more), from office supplies and light bulbs to vehicles and street signs.

"We are starting small, and we will continue incorporating green products into our approved list as technology and pricing improve," said Council Member Scott Benson (11th Ward) in a release.

It also calls on city employees to reduce their own waste by communicating electronically, sharing equipment and other resources, and recycling a greater percentage of materials, among other initiatives.  

The policy is also intended to promote Mayor R.T. Rybak’s vision of a strong green economy in Minneapolis, and a sustainability-minded city government.

"By using the purchasing power of the city, we hope to promote environmental sustainability in Minneapolis, while also growing a new green economy," said Rybak in the release.

Et cetera

Linden Hills’ curbside composting program recently marked its three-month anniversary. It’s now collecting 4 tons of organic waste per week from over 1,000 households, representing 42 percent of the neighborhood. The program’s organizer, Linden Hills Power & Light, hopes to get participation up to 70 percent as it continues to push the city to launch the program in every neighborhood.