Building homes in an eco-friendly manner requires focus and collaboration. Centra Homes is proud to be integrating green concepts into every project for the benefit of clients and the sustainability of communities
Environmental concerns are top of mind for leaders in nearly every industry in 2019. Yet few industries have been as proactive in implementing solutions as residential builders.
While many of these changes are driven by regulations, even more are being integrated by proactive builders seeking to minimize the impacts of the homes we use every day.
Recently, representatives from Centra Homes shared how their firm is choosing to make green concepts a company-wide focus. The strategy includes impacts to the land, building and purchasing areas at Centra and each share some common themes:
Responsive Community Design
One key component to ecologically–friendly building at Centra involves intelligent design of the communities themselves. By minimizing the overall footprint of homes and roads for each build it becomes easier to manage runoff and help ensure thriving communities.
Dave Pattberg serves as the Land Acquisition and Finance Manager at Centra and says that collaboration is key to implementing this strategy.
“We partner with communities throughout the north metro and are always seeking to maximize green space,” says Pattberg, “one of the most significant ways to do this is to build more densely.”
He cites examples like minimizing driveway length, setbacks and street width as a few of the key drivers that Centra works with communities to implement. By focusing here, Pattberg says that parks, medians and retention ponds can grow, enhancing the beauty of a community while also serving as crucial infrastructure for a sustainable ecosystem.
He notes that the firm takes their cues from the municipalities where they build but that Centra’s role is advocacy and to ensure thoughtful design. Increasingly communities are opting to implement these changes and invest in the future.
With a company goal to build homes that can meet the diverse needs of families while minimizing their impact and reducing costs, it is no surprise that emerging technology plays a big role at Centra. This is most evident on the construction side of the business. Here the efficiency of the homes themselves takes center stage.
Construction Management Supervisor Dave Ruhland says that the starting point is building codes where Minnesota is on the cutting edge nationally in energy efficiency mandates. He notes that changes over the past 3-4 years have increased insulation requirements and added “prove it” style testing– like a now standard blower door home sealing assessment.
“The great news on insulation is that technology is making greater efficiency much more affordable,” says Ruhland, “even with evolving regulations we are able to meet and exceed code with little to no cost-to-consumer increases.”
Ruhland says that in the past four years efficiency requirements have increased 10% with even more changes coming soon. He cites Centra’s group of nimble suppliers leveraging top-end materials as one way his firm is staying ahead of regulations and even implementing new technology early.
In addition to insulation and the housing envelope, Ruhland says that smart home features are another technology focus– one that is coming this year for Centra. The implementation of smart home technology promises to increase the efficiency of heating, cooling and irrigation systems, offering consumers more choices to up the ante on the technology and environmental side.
Across all aspects of their business, Centra Homes staff are quick to note that the biggest driver of all of these changes is consumers themselves. Centra Homes President Dale Wills says that this makes education a vital focus for the firm.
“People want to live in environmentally-conscious homes. It is our responsibility to not only think green, but educate our customers about how that looks and the implications to design and features.” —Dale Wills, President, Centra Homes
This often involves a discussion of the energy efficiency of new construction versus existing single-family homes and ensuring consumers know how an upfront investment can pay off over time. In addition it involves a level of education about how green innovation can sometimes go unseen in items like efficient home design.
Here Wills says that his firm is able to stay ahead of the curve and bring innovative concepts to their builds through collaboration with a national architect. For the past several years Centra has been working with Colorado-based Godden Sudik to adapt design choices they’ve seen work in other states.
“Architects at Godden Sudik are helping us take a fresh look at efficient design and how concepts they’ve used nationally can work here,” —Dale Wills, President, Centra Homes
Wills says the partnership with Godden Sudik has brought fresh ideas and an increased focus on efficiency to his projects. The result has been a better use of space, the ability to manage costs and the incorporation of compelling design.
“Ultimately, that is the sweet spot of green building,” says Wills, “it is the balance between environmentally sound, cost-conscious and feature-rich.”
With multiple projects in the pipeline integrating environmental upticks and an aggressive plan to incorporate even more, the future looks bright at Centra Homes. Ultimately that is what building green is all about. A sustainable, responsible model that follows a plan, fueled by equal parts technology and collaboration.