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Rebuilding Warren, MN

Large floods in 1996 and 1997 destroyed over four dozen homes in the Marshall County seat of Warren, MN. Since then, a water diversion structure has been successfully constructed and deemed functional to divert water away from the city. Although no building had been permitted since the floods and many people have had to move away from the area, the floodplains have been redrawn to reflect this new system. Currently Warren is in the process of rebuilding its beautiful community.


To help bring sustainability to the rebuilding process, Dovetail has provided green design assistance and green building education to local builders and the Warren community. Dovetail is currently planning a green demonstration home in Warren that will showcase local materials and energy-efficient green building practices. Dovetail’s demonstration home will begin construction once a buyer has been defined. Dovetail is also assisting to "green" a number of other building projects in Warren, including the Marshall County Group Home (a 4-bedroom housing facility for handicapped residents), and a new downtown commercial building that will house a dentist and optometrist. Both projects have already begun construction and will be finished in 2009.


For all projects, geothermal heating feasibility was researched, with a second heating system option of a locally-manufactured fireplace from Central Boiler. The Marshall County Group Home installed a geothermal heating system. The commercial building did not install geothermal, but is using in-floor radiant heating because it is energy-efficiency and promotes good indoor air quality. The demonstration home, slated to be part of Dovetail’s Minnesota-Made Home project, will be approximately 1,300 square feet, have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and will have in-floor radiant heating with a second heating system option of a locally-manufactured fireplace from Central Boiler. It will be aimed at being affordable for someone in the local community to purchase. On-site stormwater management, a well-insulated and well-sealed building envelope, passive solar orientation, and natural daylighting will be features of each building. Advanced framing techniques or panelized construction and local materials will also be incorporated.



Project Goals


  • Demonstrate the use of green, affordable housing as an economic development tool, by rebuilding Warren, boosting the local economy, and keeping jobs and residents in the area.
  • Provide education on green building to the community.
  • Utilize as many local vendors as possible in order to provide education on green building practices for their future use, and also to give them an edge in their rural building market.
  • Use as many local products and materials as possible, to support the community economically, pave new avenues for suppliers to get their product out there, and minimize material transportation costs and impacts.
  • Obtain green building certification or Energy Star certification where possible and preferred by the community.
  • Design the homes in a way that encourages a sense of community.
  • Manage project so it may be easily replicated locally.



Green Design Elements


  • FSC-certified lumber and materials
  • Locally sourced materials and local vendors
  • Geo-thermal heat pump systems
  • Low-VOC paints and adhesives
  • Prefabricated panels instead of stick frame or advanced framing techniques
  • Passive solar heating/cooling
  • Natural daylighting
  • On-site stormwater management
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Low-flow water fixtures