What Does Green Mean?
While eco-friendly products and services have become more common, the meaning of green has gotten murkier, particularly in construction. The term often is used in a hyperbolic or misleading way, so much so that products labeled that way often have no certifiably green components at all.
To shed some sunlight on the problem, Michael Anschel and Cindy Ojczyk founded Verified Green, a Minneapolis consulting and training company, in January 2007. The firm and its outside team of construction, building-science, and environmental experts teach builders how to incorporate certified-green products and methods into a project. Topics include energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and product selection.
“We saw a very real need in the building community for someone to help people navigate the world of green building,” Anschel says.
Anschel, cofounder of the Minneapolis-based Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, and Ojczyk, an interior designer with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation, got the idea for Verified Green while serving as members of the Green Remodeling Group, which developed the Minnesota GreenStar program. GreenStar provides a third-party certification system for eco-friendly building products and remodeling projects.
Shaw/Stewart Lumber Company in Minneapolis retained Verified Green to train its salespeople in GreenStar requirements. “Verified Green did an excellent job giving an overview of the entire program but focusing on the products and applications where we had a direct impact,” says Ron Smith, a Shaw/Stewart sales manager.
In July, the University of Minnesota selected Verified Green as a research partner in an energy-use initiative that’s part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Building America” program. Building America seeks to develop cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of both new and existing homes.
Verified Green had revenue of just under $90,000 in 2009. Anschel estimates that that figure will reach $1.5 to $2 million within two years.