Building Green Homes for the Future

McDonald Construction is proud to be one of the first builders involved in the green building advanced certification pilot program Minnesota Green Path!

The Builders Association of the Twin Cities partnered with the environmental non-profit Green Institute introduced a program for Minnesota home builders interested in transforming the residential building industry through creating a "green" certified standard of building practice. Each home registered with the program must meet the MN Green Path requirements through 3rd party verification during design and throughout the construction process. 

McDonald Construction is green certified by MN Green Path who offers holistic green options that allow home buyers and remodeling clients the freedom to choose the green features that are most important to them. Two levels (Advanced and Master) for new homes allow the builder to combine elective credits that make most sense for individual customers..

Advanced Certified

This mid-level green certification means a home has met a minimal energy testing standard plus includes additional green features. Specifically, an Advanced Certified Green Path Home must test with a HERS score of no more than 55 and earn at least 5 total points in Energy Efficiency, 5 points in Indoor Environmental Quality, 5 points from the remaining three areas of green construction (Water Conservation, Resource Management or Site/Development) and 5 elective points from any category.

  • Tested by a RESNET Certified Rater and receives a HERS Index <55
  • Built to MN Energy Code; Builder confirms energy certified requirements, PLUS:
  • 5 total points in Energy Efficiency
  • 5 total points in Indoor Environmental Quality
  • 5 total points from Water Conservation, Resource Management, or Site/Development
  • 5 points from any elective checklist
  • Project is issued a MN Green Path Home Performance Report (HPR)

Master Certified

This top level green certification is awarded to new homes testing with a HERS score of no more than 50. The home must also earn at least 10 total points in each of the five areas of green construction: Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Water Conservation, Re- source Management and Site/Development.

  • Tested by a RESNET Certified Rater and receives a HERS Index <50
  • Built to MN Energy Code; Builder confirms energy certified requirements, PLUS:
  • 10 total points in Energy Efficiency
  • 10 total points in Indoor Environmental Quality
  • 10 total points in Water Conservation
  • 10 total points in Resource Management
  • 10 total points in Site/Development
  • Project is issued a MN Green Path Home Performance Report (HPR)

Elective Checklist

Minnesota Green Path Energy Efficiency

  1. Minnesota Green Path Energy Efficiency 1) Enter the R-value of the under-slab (subslab) foam insulation
  2. A thermal mass has been installed (see manual for specifics)
  3. A passive solar heating or cooling design package was used 
  4. A systems approach to home design was used (upload plan)
  5. A vestibule with two gasketed self-closing doors and walk-off mat was installed
  6. Bottom plates of exterior walls are sealed to subfloor
  7. Foundation and mudsill are sealed1
  8. Cantilevered floors are sealed above supporting walls
  9. Air conditioning unit is properly installed 1
  10. A geothermal system is installed with a high-efficiency furnace (95+) with an ECM Motor 2
  11. No polyethylene is present in walls or ceilings
  12. No wood burning fireplace are present inside the thermal envelope
  13. An induction cook top is installed
  14. solar-electric photovoltaic system is installed
  15. A drain-water heat recovery unit (DHR / Combi-core) is installed
  16. Home is ready for solar-electric photovoltaic retrofitting
  17. All windows are triple-pane glass1
  18. A Desuper Heater is installed
  19. No recessed lights are installed recessed into unconditioned space
  20. High-Efficiency Furnace (95+)
  21. Air Source Heat Pump Installed
  22. Install High Efficiency Boiler (85+)2 23)
  23. Install Electronically Commutated (ECM) MotorSpecial Feature

Minnesota Green Path Indoor Environment Quality

  1. Patio slabs, walks, and driveway are sloped a minimum of 1/8" per foot away from house
  2. Garage floors are sloped a minimum of 1/8" per foot toward main vehicle entry doorway, or integrated floor drains are installed
  3. Active soil gas (radon) mitigation system is installed in basement
  4. 4" min perforated foundation drain with 3/4" of gravel and filter fabric installed at OUTSIDE perimeter of footings
  5. 4" min perforated foundation drain with 3/4" of gravel and filter fabric installed at INSIDE perimeter of footings
  6. Water-based waterproofing system used on below-grade walls
  7. A drainage plane and air/drainage space exists behind siding
  8. Recessed light fixtures are sealed to drywall with gasket, caulk, or foam (see manual for unconditioned space requirements)
  9. Spray-foam insulation (R-14 minimum) is applied for air seal over entire attic floor
  10. ENERGYSTAR® rated garage exhaust fans are installed in attached garages (25CFM continuous, or 100CFM intermittent)
  11. Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is installed
  12. Air filters are HEPA or better performing, with MERV rating of 12-15
  13. Ductwork is sealed with water-based, low-VOC (
  14. HVAC contractor verified that rooms and zones have balanced air flow (upload report)
  15. Carpet covers 50% or less of floor space, not counting bathrooms, kitchens, entryways, or utility rooms
  16. No carpet is installed; home has all hard-surface flooring
  17. Building materials stored on-site are protected from weather exposure
  18. Exterior envelope is sealed using gasket or acoustical sealant at all foundation, wall-to-wall, or floor-to-wall intersections
  19. Basement has a foundation drainage system inside and outside with sump pump, or tied to a drainage outlet
  20. Certified low-VOC or no-VOC interior paints and finishes were used
  21. Carpet, adhesives, and cushion qualify for CRI Green Label Plus or Green Label Testing program
  22. Local exhaust ventilation to outdoors is installed for baths, kitchen, clothes dryers, central vacuum system, etc
  23. Central forced-air HVAC systems have minimum MERV 8 filter, no filter bypass, and no ozone generators
  24. Supply boots are sealed to floor or wall
  25. All materials that contain adhesives or paint are low-emitting or Low-formaldehyde
  26. All wiring is in metal conduit
  27. Capillary Break installed at footing, below slab, and at cementious products and framing connection

MN Green Path Resource Management

  1. Decking or patio material is made from recycled content
  2. Recycled erosion control materials were used for silt fencing
  3. Recycled concrete, asphalt, or glass was used for base or fill
  4. Framing utilized two-stud corners with drywall clips
  5. Single top plate construction was utilized throughout the majority of the house's framing
  6. Roofing material with minimum 25% recycled content was used
  7. nsulation with minimum 20% recycled content was used for at least 50% of the insulation (eg, all walls, or only attic)
  8. Construction waste was sorted on or off site and recycled as appropriate
  9. A recycling center was installed with homeowner use with a minimum of two sorting bins
  10. Recycling center includes compost sorting bin
  11. Reusable footings and foundation forms were used
  12. A frost-protected shallow foundation design was used
  13. Beams, headers, and trusses are made from reclaimed material
  14. No 2x10 or larger dimensional lumber was used
  15. 90% of lumber in home is SFI/FSC/CSA certified
  16. Locally produced (within 500 miles of home) lumber was used
  17. Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) panels, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), or wood-framed panels were used
  18. Walls are framed on 24" center
  19. Roofing material is either lifetime-warranted (steel), or easily recyclable
  20. Properly designed ductless HVAC system was installed (upload design plan for verification)
  21. No AC system was installed (home is designed for passive cooling)
  22. Whole-house surge protector is installed
  23. Fire suppression system is installed in house1
  24. Interior concrete floors are sealed, and no permanent floor coverings are installed over concrete floors
  25. Flexible ductwork is installed without excess coils or loops
  26. Three of the following items are recycled or reclaimed: wall coverings, floor coverings, countertop materials, millwork, or cabinets
  27. Three of the following items are 50% locally sourced (within 500 miles): cabinets, interior doors and trim, millwork, windows, flooring, shingles/roofing, PEX tubing, countertops
  28. Materials are installed which protect waterproof membrane, and function as a hydrostatic pressure release
  29. Steel studs were used to fur out new foundation walls for basement finishing
  30. Finger-jointed lumber was used for 1/3 of the home's dimensional lumber
  31. Studs are Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL, TimberStrand®)

Minnesota Green Path Water Management

  1. Landscape plan promotes water absorption (upload design plan for verification)
  2. Irrigation system design zones turf and bedding areas separately (upload design plan for verification)
  3. A drip irrigation system is installed
  4. Installed drip irrigation system has moisture/rain sensor
  5. A greywater irrigation system is installed
  6. Roof water drainage system is installed
  7. Roof water drainage system uses rain barrels/cysterns over 100 gallons
  8. Hot water recirculating pump is installed (pump must NOT run continuously)
  9. NSF-certified water filters are installed on drinking water sources Dual Flush Total Composting Low Water
  10. Enter the total number of toilets installed in the home, the number that are composting, the number that use less water than 12 gal/flush, and the number that have light and heavy flush modes
  11. All lavatory faucets and showerheads are ultra-low flow (05 gal/min)
  12. A greywater collection system is installed
  13. A personal rain garden is installed
  14. Soil was tested for nutrient level and structure (upload results for verification)
  15. As a result of test, soil was amended to achieve optimal nutrient level and structure
  16. A no-water landscaping plan was used (upload plan for verification)
  17. Planted turf is low-water, no-mow
  18. At least 3" of mulch was applied to all planting beds
  19. Showers each have no more than one shower head
  20. No garbage disposal was installed
  21. A composting portable toilet was used on job-site
  22. An erosion control plan was designed by a licensed engineer (upload plan for verification)
  23. Irrigation system was designed by EPA water-sense certified professional (upload plan for verificatio

Minnesota Green Path Land Use

  1. Home shares a common driveway with at least one other home
  2. Home is built on infill site
  3. Home is built in an area where housing density averages more than 4 single family homes per acre
  4. There is an accessible community garden area
  5. Home is within 1/2 mile of local businesses
  6. Sustainable (re-used) lumber was used for construction
  7. Wood (lumber or tree) waste was recycled on-site into mulch
  8. No heritage trees were removed on the home site
  9. Home is built on greyfield site
  10. Home is built on brownfield site
  11. Home is within 1/2 mile of public transportation access
  12. Home is within 5 miles of a park-and-ride location
  13. Home is within 1/2 mile of a bike route
  14. There are no impervious surfaces outside of the building footprint, other than the driveway
  15. Excavated soil was kept on-site
  16. Efforts were taken to restore ecosystem damaged in construction (upload restoration plan for documentation)
  17. A compost bin was installed outside the home
  18. Home's patio was surfaced with permeable pavers
  19. Home's driveway was surfaced with permeable pavers
  20. A vegetated or green roof system was installed
  21. A metal roof was installed
  22. French drains were installed to keep water on-site
  23. Trees removed from construction site were replanted
  24. Each tree removed from construction site was replaced with two (or more) trees
  25. 25% of building site was undisturbed during construction
  26. 50% of building site was undisturbed during construction
  27. No garage (attached or otherwise) was built or previously existed on homesite
  28. Home faces the south to maximize ambient light 

MN Green Path Glossary

  • RESNET: Residential Energy Services Network is an independent, non-profit organization that sets national standards for energy ratings, ensuring accuracy and consistency.
  • RESNET Raters: Certified professionals conduct on-site inspections and energy tests, including a final blower door test at a new home’s completion.
  • House Rater: Data gathered by RESNET raters is entered into House Rater, energy modeling software that calculates the home’s energy rating or HERS score.
  • HERS: This RESNET Home Energy Rating System scores homes against an index of the average U.S. new home’s energy efficiency HERS of 100. The lower the score, the more energy efficient the home. (In Minnesota, homes built to code generally test at 80.)
  • Blower Door Test: This tool helps determine the air-tightness of new and existing homes using a fan to maintain a pre-set level of depressurization in the structure.
  • ACH50: The Air Changes Per Hour at 50 Pascals is the index used in most blower door testing. As with HERS scores, a lower score is more efficient, indicating more air-tightness.
  • HPR: The Home Performance Report is an easy-to-understand document that serves as the energy “window sticker” for a home, allowing home buyers to compare home energy scores in the same manner as they compare miles-per-gallon information when they buy a new car.