GRAND FORKS — The home of a northeastern North Dakota couple has the most environmentally conscious design of any house in the state, according to a national nonprofit that evaluates and certifies 'green' structures.
While hundreds of buildings in North Dakota are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, only one single-family home in south Grand Forks has the distinction of being platinum certified.
Dexter and Betsy Perkins have just one of a few homes in the region to receive the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation.
"When you get a certification like that, people pay a little more attention," said Dexter Perkins, a geology professor at the University of North Dakota. "Maybe that'll inspire other people to do some of the things we did — and that's really what our goal is."
The 2,500-square-foot home has flooring made from recycled porcelain and countertops made from recycled paper — the same durable material that ramps at some skateboard parks are made of, Perkins said.
"We tried to make a home that was the most environmentally friendly home there was,” Perkins said. “That includes all the most natural materials. We don't have any plastics or synthetics — we have recycled materials throughout wherever possible."
The home's platinum designation doesn't just come from the materials it was built with, but also from its efficient design, which the Perkins family first started planning out in 2016.
Perkins said his home uses less than 20 percent of the energy a conventional house the same size uses. And much of the efficiency comes from the little details.
”Because we have no studs in our wall, our house is insulated about three times better than any other house in this neighborhood," he said.
The couple worked with a Twin Cities-based architecture firm to design the house. Perkins won't say how much renovations cost, but told the Grand Forks Herald in 2018 that he expects to recoup the cost of construction in 10 years through the house's efficient design and the use of solar panels.
"We're doing something to help combat global warming. And I think everybody should be doing that," Perkins said.