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An inquiry of building occupants in Minnesota

A primary purpose of green building certification programs is to assist in the process of creating “green” buildings and to evaluate the level of their “greenness” compared to regular buildings. Today over 85 green building programs have been formed at national, regional, and local levels. Some of the most widely recognized national certification systems in the United States are the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, the EnergyStar program, and the National Association for Homebuilders (NAHB) National Green Building Standard. The Minnesota GreenStar Remodeling and New Homes program and the Green Communities program with Minnesota Overlay are examples of green building standards specifically designed for green building in Minnesota.

Most green building programs aim to address issues related to energy efficiency, indoor air quality, site development, water consumption, waste management and responsible material use, and generally follow a structure of meeting required credits and achieving a specified number of additional credits or points. But what happens to the buildings once the final inspection for certification is completed? Do the buildings remain “green” once they have been occupied? How do occupants feel about items that were installed in order to meet green building standards requirements? Will the certified buildings change over time due to actions of building occupants, and if so, are modified buildings likely to still be considered “green”? To gain an initial indication of the answers to these questions, a questionnaire was developed for use with owners, occupants, managers, and builders of certified green buildings in Minnesota.

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