Green Homes for Rural Communities: Dovetail Launches Eco-Affordable Housing Project in Aitkin



In Aitkin County housing was becoming a major problem.


"Any family that wanted to buy a house had two options - buy a fixer-upper or buy a million dollar lake home," according to Ross Wagner, head of Aitkin County Economic Development.


"These two options demonstrate a growing problem in Minnesota - low-to-middle income housing is just not available to the people that live and work in these communities," states Alison Lindburg, the director of Dovetail Partner's Eco-Affordable Housing Program.


Besides challenges with housing, rural communities are also often searching for economic development opportunities. One opportunity in Northern Minnesota that helps address both issues is to connect the local wood products companies with the green building movement.



In 2005, Jeff Howe, President of Dovetail Partners, began discussing possibilities of a demonstration home in Aitkin County. The home would demonstrate green building principles and make use of local, certified wood products.



“We're trying to sustain communities and the environment,” says Howe, “Why shouldn't we be able to connect affordable housing with building green, and support the community by using the local FSC-certified wood?”



The idea of green building is rapidly gaining momentum, but rural communities often get left behind as attention is focused on the needs of urban centers.



“Community leaders in rural areas are interested in energy efficiency and good building practices just as much as those in urban areas,” says Lindburg. “And rural communities often have greater opportunities to use local materials that not only benefit the environment, but support local businesses and entrepreneurs.”



This demonstration home in Aitkin County is Dovetail's first eco-affordable housing project. It features in-floor radiant heating, local FSC-certified wood, locally-manufactured prefabricated panels by Talor Building Systems, and various other green building practices, while remaining affordable for someone in the local community to purchase.


The construction company, Talor Building Systems, whose mission includes an interest in eco-friendly construction, will be manufacturing the prefabricated wall, floor, and roof panels at its Aurora location. The Mille Lacs Band Corporate Commission has invested in Talor with the future intent of helping create new sustainable living wage jobs for its band members and others in the Onamia/Mille Lacs/Hinckley region.


The house is breaking ground in July and will become available for purchase soon after. There will be two open house events at the house in September. Other upcoming projects are being planned for Greenbush, MN and Warren, MN.


For more information, contact Dovetail Partners at 612-333-0430 or