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HERS® is the Backbone of Minnesota’s Green Path Program

Oct 9, 2018

In July, RESNET® reported on the top states for HERS® activity in 2017. Among the top states for activity was Minnesota with over 6,200 ratings, accounting for more than a third of new homes built in the state.

One program contributing to that HERS® activity is Minnesota’s Green Path Program. Minnesota’s Green Path is the leading energy efficiency and green building program for the residential construction industry in Minnesota. Created by BATC-Housing First Minnesota in 2011, the program has provided Home Performance Reports to more than 14,000 newly built homes highlighting RESNET’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score and air exchange rate.

BATC is the leading voice for builders and remodelers in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

From the outset, the goal has been to help builders and their homeowners look at energy and green building in a different, more affordable way. With this independent energy testing and a consistent HERS® index, prospective home buyers have a valuable tool that helps them understand expected energy usage in the homes they are considering.

In addition to the HPRs provided with each tested home, Green Path has been successful in securing a HERS® field in the NorthStar MLS database, which is used by thousands of REALTORS throughout Minnesota.

The base level of Minnesota’s Green Path is a RESNET tested home. Additionally, the program offers advanced and master levels of Green Path certification for those builders and homeowners seeking even more resource management.

Minnesota’s Green Path enjoys tremendous marketing reach via several pages in the spring and fall Parade of Homes Guidebooks, which enjoy annual distribution of 150,000 copies. Each directory showcases homes on Parade (the BATC-Housing First Minnesota Parade of Homes is the largest in the country, featuring well over 400 homes and 50 remodeled projects each spring and fall) and identifies which homes are participating in the Green Path program. Seventy percent of the Fall 2018 Parade of Homes entries are in the Green Path program. When the Minnesota Green Path began, only 4 percent of the homes in the Parade of Homes were energy tested.

In addition to the designation in the printed directory, Green Path homes are denoted on the Parade of Homes website, which receives 200,000 unique visits annually and Green Path is promoted on digital billboards advertising each season’s Parade.

Recent highlights to Minnesota Green Path include:

  • Strong growth with more than 3,000 Home Performance Reports (HPRs) expected to be issued during the next 12 months (approximately 250 per month)
  • In partnership with the Xcel Energy’s High Efficiency New Homes Program vendor ICF, Green Path HPRs now identify if the home is a participant in the Efficient New Home Construction Program or CenterPoint Energy’s High Efficiency Homes program.
  • Enhanced Green Path Conference to be presented on November 13, 2018 at Target Field. Attendees will learn about the latest green building techniques, how to work with cities to achieve greater energy efficiency, and what leading Twin Cities businesses see in the future for sustainability.

Minnesota’s Green Path offers three green designation levels:

  1. Energy Tested: The first level of MN’s Green Path. These homes have been tested and rated by a third-party, independent RESNET Rater. Each receives an attractive Green Path HPR with the HERS® and ACH50 (air exchange index) test results.
  2. Advanced Certified: This mid-level green certification means a home has met a minimal energy testing standard plus includes additional green features. Specifically, an Advanced Certified Green Path Home must test with a HERS® score of no more than 55 and earn at least 5 total points in Energy Efficiency, 5 points in Indoor Environmental Quality, 5 points from the remaining three areas of green construction (Water Conservation, Resource Management or Site/Development) and 5 elective points from any category.
  3. Master Certified: This top level green certification is awarded to new homes testing with a HERS® score of no more than 50. The home must also earn at least 10 total points in each of the five areas of green construction: Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Water Conservation, Re-source Management and Site/Development.

Advanced and Certified points are offered for use of green construction materials, techniques and products per the Green Path checklist.

For more details on Minnesota’s Green Path, visit www.MNGreenPath.org