As a City Rebuilds, Green is the Way to Go


Dovetail Partners and the Warren Economic Development Authority Pursue Green Building Project

Warren, MN (3/19/08) - At a recent planning meeting, the Warren Economic Development Authority (WEDA) determined that building green homes and offering green education is a step in the right direction for rebuilding a community hit by severe flooding in 1996 and 1997.


The county seat lost over four dozen homes in the three major floods in 1996 and 1997 . A water diversion structure was constructed to divert the water away from the city. Last year, confirmation was received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to redraw the floodplains and lift building restrictions.



“Green building makes sense in terms of ecology,” says Phil Thompson, President of WEDA. “It's also very cost-effective and good for the area.”

Dovetail Partners, a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis and working throughout the region, has partnered with WEDA to identify green opportunities for the reconstruction.



“Warren is a great community with an opportunity to rebuild and incorporate the latest green building possibilities into the process,” said Alison Lindburg, Director of Dovetail's Eco-Affordable Housing Program.



The recent planning meeting was held to discuss green building concepts for multiple projects in the city of Warren and included representatives from WEDA, Dovetail Partners, Argyle Building Center, and Marshall County Group Homes, Inc. The partners are working to define what “green” means for them and have decided that community education is necessary.



“It is great to have organizations like Dovetail willing to come all the way out here to teach us about green,” says Derald Mercil of Argyle Building Center.



“Right now, energy conservation and keeping jobs in the local area is important to us,” Thompson says.



With the floodplains successfully redrawn, the City is in the process of rebuilding their community. Part of this vision involves construction of a handicapped group home and a new professional building.



Marshall County Group Homes, Inc. plans to construct a new 4 bedroom home for individuals with developmental disabilities or related conditions.


“We'd like to build an energy-efficient building that has low utility bills and is comfortable for its residents,” says Sue Holter of Marshall County Group Homes, Inc.



Karl Frigaard of WEDA and Northwest Community Action Agency agrees, "Incorporating green concepts and design input from Marshall County Group Home employees, clients and the clients' families will result in a plan that will keep employees and clients happy to live and work in the Marshall County Group Home.”



Dovetail is aiding in the review of the floor plan for the home and helping incorporate green design considerations. Possible green features include passive solar orientation and natural daylighting, a geothermal heating system, and high-efficiency locally-manufactured windows.



A new professional building in the heart of downtown also has plans for exploring green options. An energy-efficient heating/cooling system, locally manufactured materials, and achieving the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria are all possibilities. This project is in the preliminary design phase and hopes to break ground in 2008. Dovetail Partners will be aiding in the review of the floor plan and helping plan educational events around the construction.


“These projects are a way to improve the local economy by working with local contractors and materials and offering community education,” says Doug Safar, WEDA member and board member of Marshall County Group Homes, Inc. “It'll benefit all of us.”


As the projects break ground, there are opportunities for contractor training on green building techniques. Dovetail Partners' green assistance in the community is currently funded by the Otto Bremer Foundation, a charitable trust that authorizes grants to nonprofit organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.


WEDA and Dovetail are exploring possibilities of building a green demonstration home in Warren to engage the local community. The partners are currently discussing options on building in a highly-visible new development on the edge of town that could influence other new homes around it to be green, or to build on an infill lot inside town that has existing infrastructure.





More information:


City of Warren

Warren, population 1,678, is the county seat for Marshall County. It is located in the northwestern corner of Minnesota, sixty miles south of the Canadian border and fifteen miles east of North Dakota in the Red River Valley. The Warren Economic Development Authority (WEDA) is an organization in the City of Warren that works with the community to help enhance local economic development.


Marshall County Group Homes

The Marshall County Group Homes, Inc. is a private non-profit corporation that gives services to individuals with developmental disabilities in their Marshall County homes. This currently includes 5 Adult Foster Care Homes with Waivered Services and an In Home Family Support Program.



Dovetail Partners

Dovetail Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that fosters sustainability and responsible behaviors by collaborating to develop unique concepts, systems, models and programs. The objective of Dovetail's Eco-Affordable Housing Program is to discover solutions that promote and sustain resources and community. The program aims to create environmental awareness, to demonstrate the use of housing as an economic development tool for rural communities, and to facilitate the process of obtaining and constructing eco-affordable housing so that it may be replicated easily.



Otto Bremer Foundation
The Otto Bremer Foundation is a charitable trust that authorizes grants to nonprofit organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Otto Bremer arrived in the United States from Germany in 1886. Over the next 35 years, he became a successful banker and a deeply involved citizen. In 1944, Bremer's knowledge and concern for the strengths and hardships of the rural and immigrant experience, coupled with his commitment to countryside banks, lead to the formation of the Otto Bremer Foundation. In creating a foundation, Bremer sought to insure theperpetuation of the Bremer banks and the ultimate return of his personal wealth to his "family" of communities. Sixty plus years later, the Otto Bremer Foundation continues to honor Bremer's wishes by carrying out his expressed interests and concerns. As a major shareholder of Bremer Financial Corporation, the Foundation gives priority to communities where Bremer banks are also present. In accordance with the principles set forth in his trust agreement, the mission of the Otto Bremer Foundation is to assist people in achieving full economic, civic and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities. Beneficiaries must reside in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota or Montana, with preference given to those in regions served by Bremer banks.



For further information: Alison Lindburg, Dovetail Partners Inc., tel: 612-333-0430