Andersen Works With Minnesota Builders on Weatherization

January 25, 2010
Markets

"Project ReEnergize," a weatherization program organized by the Builders Association of Minnesota and supported by Andersen Corp., was highlighted as a model for programs in other states at a press conference at last week's International Builders' Show. 

As part of its economic stimulus package, the Obama Administration made money available to state agencies for the purpose of weatherizing homes and generating jobs. When some Minnesota state agencies could not disburse the funding quickly enough, the state turned to the local home builders association, which quickly trained and certified contractors and insulation installers to make improvements to 1,400 homes, said Pam Perri Weaver, BAM's executive officer.

Consumers were eligible for rebates when they hired certified contractors to replace windows, but they received even more money if their home's insulation was upgraded as well. That was an important incentive because it's hard to convince homeowners to make improvements that in the end, they can't see, said Minnesota remodeler Shawn Nelson, a Project ReEnergize participant. "Air sealing is not a visual upgrade," he said.

About 90 percent of the windows in today's homes are older, single-pane glass styles—much less efficient than modern double-pane, triple-pane and argon-filled products, noted Maureen McDonough of Andersen Windows. A new federal energy-efficiency tax credit and supplying windows for Project ReEnergize contractors were important factors in enabling the manufacturer to call back 600 employees who had been laid off, she added.

Participating homeowners had no income limits, but the homes could be no larger than 3,000 square feet and had to be built before the year 2000, when more stringent state energy codes were mandated. The average size of each home was 1,800 square feet and the average age was about 45 years old, Weaver reported.

The Minnesota home builders association stands ready to funnel more money to consumers to make upgrades should additional federal funding become available. "We have a list of people who are waiting," because most consumers are unwilling to make the upgrades without the financial incentives, Nelson said.