This week for our 200th post, I am honored to do a guest post on Christopher G. Hill’s – Construction Law Musings. Based off the title of his blog, you might have deduced that Mr. Hill specializes in construction law. As an accredited LEED AP, he is also one of those rare individuals that not only deals with “Green Building” issues, but also understands it. I first met Chris on , when he was working for a larger law office. I have always had a good deal of respect for Chris because of the great advice and his sense of humor. Back in July that respect grew some more when he did one of the most gutsiest moves I have seen in this economic climate; he decided to go solo.
Without much further ado, my guest musing on Builder Self-Verification & Certifications
Minnesota Green Star Announcement:
On October 29th, Minnesota GreenStar® received a letter from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) executive director David Siegel advising that BATC would be leaving its role as a member of MN GreenStar.
Mr. Siegel did express that BATC believes in the mission of MN GreenStar, but was unwilling to continue offering financial support or the use of one of their vacant offices for MN GreenStar’s operations.
MN GreenStar is sad to see the departure of one of the early participants in the creation of this collaborative effort by the local new home industry, remodeling industry, designers and architects, environmental organizations and agencies, local utilities, and the state energy office to create a green building and remodeling program that could serve Minnesota residents with the promise of genuine third-party verified and tested green homes.
Although the board of MN GreenStar would have liked to continue its relationship with BATC, the letter from Mr. Siegel created no viable opportunity to do so. BATC asked the board of MN GreenStar to remove both the National Association of the Remodeling Industry MN Chapter (NARI MN) and the Green Institute as members, and grant BATC sole control over the organization.
Members of the MN GreenStar board met with BATC to discuss other options, but it was made clear that BATC was unwilling to negotiate. Given that there was no real proposal on the table other than to turn over the program and operations entirely, with no guarantee that the integrity and standards set by the program would remain intact; it was impossible for the board to accept anything other than their departure.
MN GreenStar has written to BATC acknowledging their departure and expressing the hope that the opportunity for an alternative and constructive option can still be discussed, and thanking them for their generous support in the past. Our hope is that they will choose to work to raise the bar for their industry and improve the lives of Minnesotans.
There is some disturbing news and some good news. The disturbing news helps shed some light on the move on the part of BATC to seize the program and remove the members.
- In recent conversations and a final meeting with BATC leadership it was learned the stated intent of BATC, should MN GreenStar reject the take-over, to create another green new homes program for the builders and suppliers that make up their membership. They stated the intent to remove third party verification and testing from their program, and allow for self certification by the builder.
- It was also learned in this meeting that members of BATC leadership have been systematically undermining MN GreenStar by discouraging our sponsors from renewing sponsorship with MN GreenStar. This highly troubling and unethical behavior hurts the builders, remodelers, and homeowners who have made the commitment to legitimate green building.
- BATC had been making efforts for some time to try and pressure MN GreenStar to create a “light” version of the program that lowered the requirements in a number of categories. They also pushed leadership to “de-couple” the five key concepts that make up the program, allowing a builder to address only energy while ignoring water conservation and still certify the home as green. MN GreenStar remains unwilling to devalue or undermine our standards.
MN GreenStar is compelled to reject this move to water down the MN GreenStar Certification Standards as it flies in the face of the mission and values of the organization.
- MN GreenStar believes in protecting the integrity of the program
- MN GreenStar believes in respecting those builders, remodelers, architects, designers and developers who made the commitment, trained, invested, and built MN GreenStar homes and remodels. We respect the over 600 professionals who trained and are MN GreenStar Approved.
- MN GreenStar believes in respecting the cities, regulatory agencies, and environmental groups who extended their trust and brought us into their policies, and supported serious green building.
- MN GreenStar believes in respecting the homeowners who paid for the promise of third party verified and tested homes and remodels, and the value that MN GreenStar certification brings to their home.
- MN GreenStar believes in respecting the hard work and thousands of volunteer hours that were spent creating, running, and growing a true grassroots program that refuses to go down the path of GreenWashing.
- MN GreenStar believes the residents of Minnesota deserve a legitimate third-party verified and third party tested home and the proof of performance it provides. Minnesotans deserve homes that are healthy to live in, and less expensive to operate.
MN GreenStar believes the residents of Minnesota deserve a legitimate third-party verified and third party tested home and the proof of performance it provides. Minnesotans deserve homes that are healthy to live in, and less expensive to operate.