Rinnovare Inc./Acacia Architects: Remodel Type III Gold

Remodel Gold III

Rinnovare/Acacia Kitchen
Photo by Dana Wheelock

Empty Nesters

This small rambler was a great find – to the right couple. Only modestly modified since its original construction, this home had good bones, a great location that abutted a marsh and was ripe for an extensive renovation.

The customer and Acacia Architects spent a significant amount of time and effort specifically designing the home to meet their needs as well as to achieve at least a Silver Certification from MN GreenStar. Nearly a year later, the project was complete and exceeded customer’s expectations of achieving a Gold certification within budgetary guidelines.

Rinnovare, now working on its 2nd MN GreenStar remodel, provided a smooth and well planned project to insure green planning through documentation was executed in the most efficient manner. From deconstruction services to reuse as much of the old cabinetry and woodwork to asbestos abatement to radon mitigation, zoned heating and tankless water heating, the project was truly green. Finishes were deliberately all low VOC and surprisingly, after construction and the client moved in, the house was without that typically noticeable “new car smell” of chemicals off gassing. The project was completed with an exceptional landscape design which will minimize water needed for irrigation.

This project exemplified the standards of holistic green building and will be a showpiece for the client for years to come.

By Mike Williams, Rinnovare Inc.

For more information on this project visit www.rinnovareinc.com and www.acaciaarchitects.com.

Design Forty Five LLC – Lake Of The Isles Project: Remodel Type IV Gold

Remodel Gold IV

2002 w. Lake of the Isles Parkway, Minneapolis, MN

Having been well preserved for nearly 70 years, this 1899 home, overlooking a lake in the heart of the city, was looking for a fresh 21st century update. While the owners loved the house, they saw lots of potential to make things just perfect.

The whole-house renovation features a super-green design for modern living balanced with a strong respect for the history and character of the home. All of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are new. All siding and sheathing was removed and replaced, allowing new foam insulation to be applied from the exterior, thus preserving select interior finishes.

Almost all of the spaces in the house were remodeled in some way—taking a great house and making it better.

Two existing areas received special focus: the kitchen and central stair. The owners are gourmet chefs who do a lot of entertaining. A small but strategic kitchen addition allows an expanded and modernized kitchen with every amenity and expansive views of the lake and side yard. A new southeast-facing breakfast nook provides a cozy alternative to the remodeled historic dining room.

The existing central stair was very tight and awkward in places. To create a spacious and beautiful new stair, the center of the home
was demolished, roof reframed and center hall topped with a large skylight spilling light all the way down to the main floor.

A new outbuilding was constructed to house the owner’s workshop and a new 2-car garage. This “carriage house,” which is designed to echo the historic proportions and detailing of the main house, is linked to the house through a tunnel beneath the yard.

A welcoming, open front porch was built with lake views and a low-slope green roof.

Green Strategies:

The project earned Gold-level MN GreenStar certification by employing dozens of sustainable strategies, including:

• On Site Energy. 13 wells beneath the garden provide highly efficient geothermal heating and cooling, and a 2.2 kilowatt rooftop solar array offsets electrical loads.

• Energy efficiency. The building envelope was made airtight and reinsulated to Energy Star levels; all windows are reconditioned or new.

• Resource efficiency. Advanced framing techniques reduce lumber required. All lumber used is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

• Healthy Air. Energy Recovery Ventilator provides fresh air exchange while saving energy. Low/No VOC paints throughout. Radon capture system installed beneath basement slab. New cladding with rainscreen detailing helps prevents mold from moisture intrusion.

• Site & Community. Green roofs capture rainwater on site while reducing heating/cooling loads. All material reused if possible; all possible construction waste was recycled, including concrete, wood, and asphalt shingles

To learn more about this project and Design Forty Five please visit us at www.designfortyfive.com.

Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build: Remodel Type IV Gold

The purpose of this project was to update a 1913 Federal meets Prairie style home in Minnesota. The home suffered from poor flow and a lack of bedrooms and bathrooms. The kitchen had been remodeled in the 80’s to an all-white melamine which didn’t match anything in the house and was cramped and confining.

The homeowner wanted to be respectful of the original architecture and period of the home while adding some personal elements to the home. Design that accommodated both family living and gatherings of friends was a requirement.

An addition was placed on the back of the home on both floors to resolve the home’s many flow issues. It houses the new library, kitchen, bedroom, and yoga-room. It is now possible to circumambulate the home on both floors which greatly enhances the rhythm of the space both on the interior and the exterior.

A new metal roof, sand-float finish traditional stucco, rain-barrels, and extensive landscaping make the exterior of this home as classy as the interior. The lines of the addition greatly enhance the architecture of the home and the lines of the patio create natural flow around the home.

The home is now heated with a geothermal system, captures 40% of the stormwater from the roof for use in irrigation, and achieves a 95+% stormwater retention on site. Plantings are all drought tolerant or native, and the grass is a no-mow blend that needs little to no irrigation or mowing. All of the finishes were low or no VOC. Furnishings and fabrics are made from 100% organic or 100% recycled materials and are low VOC. Furniture is made using FSC certified wood, and many materials including doors, countertops, flooring, millwork and the entire patio were made from salvaged materials.

From the Homeowner:
“[The remodeler] managed to design the house to meet all of these specifications, without adding a lot of square footage which would have eaten up more of the backyard than I wanted.”

“Changes to the plans were made relatively late in the process, but [the remodeler] and his team did a fantastic job rolling with the changes.”

“Finally, I want to say that I cannot think of one [of the remodeler’s] employee or one contractor that worked on my house that didn’t do a great job and wasn’t pleasant.  And I was there a lot.  Good character and trust are extremely important to me, and I trusted and liked everyone that I came in contact with.  Frankly, that was a very nice surprise.”

By Michael Anschel, Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build

For more information on this project visit www.otogawa-anschel.com.

Metropolis Construction: Remodel Type III Silver

Remodel Silver IIIMetropolis

Our goal was to turn our newly acquired and somewhat run down bungalow into a beautiful and comfortable home that was as energy efficient and eco-friendly as possible. We wanted to do this in a way that created modern conveniences and utilized modern technologies, while preserving the craftsman aesthetic of our 1918 home. Our project is a certified Silver, Type III project, which included adding two dormers to create a master suite on the second floor, remodeling the kitchen, and generally sprucing it up. The key energy efficiency features of our home include: closed cell foam insulation in all available applications, redesign of the HVAC system, high efficiency furnace, tankless hot water, energy efficient lighting and appliances, and high performance windows and doors for all new applications. We insulated the sash pockets and reglazed the existing windows to improve the efficiency of the existing windows. Many of the materials used were salvaged and environmentally-friendly, including flooring remilled from an old barn, a kitchen countertop made of 100% paper, and salvaged or FSC-certified lumber and millwork. Throughout the project, we made every effort to reuse materials and minimize waste. The home’s proximity to a light rail station and urban amenities cuts car trips, which further reduces our carbon footprint.

By Carolyn Brouillard, Homeowner

Metropolis Kitchen BeforeMetropolis Kitchen After

For more information on this project visit www.metropolismn.com.

Buck Brothers Construction Inc.: Remodel Type III Gold

Remodel Type III Gold

Buck Brothers Construction

This 1960 rambler nestled along West River Parkway in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, possessed owners who were dedicated to both the concept and the spirit of sustainable and healthy construction.  The impetus for their project was to provide better living space for themselves and their two daughters by adding a second floor.  The new level houses two bedrooms, a common bathroom and a laundry room.

When Buck Brothers Construction broached the idea of attaining GreenStar certification, the home owners enthusiastically signed on.  From beginning planning through the construction phases a collaborative process was put into play to ensure that all the participants (designers, contractors, suppliers and homeowners) “owned” the goal of creating a highly livable, energy efficient addition.

During demolition the roof framing was salvaged and re-sawn to create the railings for the new staircase.  A dozen re-claimed doors were installed in doorways by the carpenters and as a unique closet partitioning system by the homeowner.  Trees harvested from the neighborhood were transformed into beautiful flooring and cabinetry by a local company, Wood From the Hood.  A new high-efficiency furnace and air-to-air exchanger, coupled with super tight construction standards put a lid on energy costs while raising indoor air quality.  Water conservation was achieved by installing low-flow toilets, water restrictors on faucets – and rain barrels to feed the xeriscape garden.  Even the dumpster service played a part, by recycling over 66% of the construction debris.

The best testament to the success of the project, and the enduring quality of the relationships, is that the clients have contracted for another remodeling project with the same quest for “green” practices and certification!

By Bob Buck, Buck Brothers Construction Inc.

Buck Brothers Construction - Stairs Buck Brothers Construction - Bedroom

Buck Brothers Construction - Bathroom

For more information on this project visit www.buck-bros.com.

Lake Country Builders: Remodel Type 1 Bronze

Remodel Bronze I Lake Country Builders

The arts and crafts-style home, in the Lynhurst neighborhood of Minneapolis, features a renovated kitchen, powder room, and sitting area. An eco-friendly design respects the home’s historical character while integrating the modern elements of today’s kitchen amenities. This efficient use of space features craftsman details in the cabinetry and millwork. Recycled glass, cork flooring, and low VOC paints join a variety of other ‘green’ materials honoring our clients sensitivity to the environment.

There were some interesting challenges in designing the project. We had to conceal plumbing lines coming down from the upstairs bathroom as well as hide the support beam that divided the pantry space from the kitchen. The solution was to create an arch that housed both problems. Viola! The powder bathroom on the main level was a wish list item and we creatively built under the stair. A Perfect fit! Another wish list item was to open up the stair well to the living room. The clients commented that everyone who visits is amazed at how original to the home it looks. Like it was always there!

By Sue & Pete Jacobson, Lake Country Builders

For more information on this project visit www.lakecountrybuilders.com.

Castle Building & Remodeling: Remodel Type 1 Bronze

Remodel Bronze I

Castle Building & Remodeling

This project is in the home of two adults and three children. The owners wanted an open gathering space with informal dining, a mudroom/entry area, a remodeled powder room, and provisions for a future laundry facility. Because they cared so much about the environment and the health of their family, they specifically wanted it to be “green” for energy-efficiency, earth-friendly, and health-conscious reasons.


A great deal of planning, preparation, and creative design was required to fulfill the homeowners’ “green dream.” The project included a blower door test to measure air tightness, weather-stripping of existing doors, the use of reclaimed lumber for framing, formaldehyde-free insulation, compact fluorescent light bulbs and sheetrock with recycled paper content as well as the re-use of millwork and the laundry chute. As part of the project, a low-flow toilet and a mix of reclaimed birch countertops and Cambria countertops, which are fabricated with a low-petroleum method, was installed. Energy-Star appliances, a high-efficiency water heater, and low-flow aerators were all put to use in this home. In addition, handmade tiles composed of recycled material were installed in the kitchen, tile with recycled content was used in the bathroom, and a recycling center was added in the kitchen. The design also incorporated the refinishing of the existing hardwood floors with a less toxic water-based stain in lieu of installing new flooring. All construction waste on-site, such as salvageable metals and wood, was sent to a recycling center that reclaims many materials.

Other sustainable design elements included in this project are the use of dimmer switches and timers on electric lights, the avoidance of recessed lights, the installation of a HEPA filter and the use of a refrigerator with a bottom-mount freezer. Low or no-VOC paint and wood finishes were also used.

By Katie Jaydan, Castle Building & Remodeling

 Castle Building & Remodeling BeforeCastle Building & Remodeling In Progress

For more information on this project visit www.castlebri.com.

Rinnovare, Inc.: Remodel Type IV Bronze

Remodel Type IV

Rinnovare Kitchen

Affordable Green

This family was growing. They had a small turn of the century home in the Macalister Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul. They enjoyed their neighbors, were walking distance from their church and local shops. They didn’t want to move, but could no longer squeeze into their 2 bedroom 1 bath house – especially with a 2nd baby on the way.

Initial design discussions were focused on listening to the client and understanding their needs and desires. After many design iterations, we landed on a perfect fit. We proposed enlarging their home while optimizing space to accommodate their growing family which allowed them to stay in the neighborhood they loved. Nearing the close of design, Rinnovare learned about the MN GreenStar pilot program just being released. After talking with the client, they supported green, wanted to learn more, but could not afford to pay a premium to the total project for any green upgrades.

Rinnovare accepted the challenge and modified the design, specs and methods to build green and to meet the existing budget. To Rinnovare’s credit, many of its standard building practices had green attributes – spray foam insulation, protecting the site during excavation, hydronic radiant heat and others. But thanks to MN GreenStar, many more practices were learned and shared with not only the client, but it’s partnership of subcontractors. Things like caulking top plates before drywall, creating a waste management plan, using low VOC paint, low flow faucets, reclaimed doors, countertop remnants and pre-finished North American hardwood flooring, extensive use of informal passive cooling and thorough project documentation became new standards of performance.

The end result was a Bronze certified addition, that exceeded the clients expectations, met the original budget and provided a healthy and energy efficient home for years to come.

By Mike Williams, Rinnovare Inc.

 Rinnovare Dining Room

For more information on this project visit www.rinnovareinc.com.

Building Arts Sustainable Architecture & Construction LLC: Remodel Type IV Gold

Remodel Gold IV

Building Arts Front Room

Building Arts KitchenBuilding Arts Living Room

For more information on this project visit www.building-arts.net.