Minnesota-Made Building Materials

Lead Author: Carrie Kothlow

Publish date: 08.20.2010


Resources for finding local products and materials


In 2008, Dovetail Partners released a report titled “Made in Minnesota” which focused on the opportunities and benefits of using local building materials. The report noted that at the time there were more than 40 green building standards in the United States; today (just two years later) there are more than 80.  A common theme in nearly every green building program used in the United States is the preference for local materials.


Similar to the potential benefits of supporting local foods, the use of local building materials can help reduce environmental impacts, such as CO2 and other emissions, by minimizing the transportation of materials, avoiding the externalization of environmental impacts to other parts of the world and providing support for the regional economy.


Several green building standards and initiatives, including the Architecture 2030 challenge aimed at achieving carbon neutrality in new buildings , promote the use of local building materials.  Buying “local” can fit several definitions.  For example purchasing from the United States or North America, from a regional area, from a certain state or even from a particular neighborhood are all plausible definitions of local. A number of green building programs, including the US Green Building Council’s LEED program, define locally sourced materials as those for which raw material extraction, processing and production of finished products all occur within a 500-mile radius of the building project location.  The GBI Green Globes program and the National Green Building Standard also use a 500-mile radius as a definition of “local,” but widen the radius to 1,500 miles when transportation is primarily by rail or ship.  The standard of measurement for defining local in the Minnesota Made project is identified in the name: “Made in Minnesota.”


As outlined in the 2008 report from Dovetail Partners, there are opportunities to maximize the benefits of green building efforts by focusing on the use of local raw materials and locally manufactured products. The possibility of using Minnesota-made materials to build a complete home is within reach.


This report summarizes the resources that are available to assist in identifying building products and materials that are Made-in-Minnesota, including a new database and online interactive maps developed by Dovetail Partners.


Maps and additional resources for finding local building materials are available here.