Green America - A Minnesotan Northern Exposure

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Green America “Faces of the Green Pages” feature

Excerpt: Since acquiring the Adventure Inn six years ago, Mark and Sue Edgington have been tireless in transforming the property into the greenest retreat possible, right down to the individual room furnishings.

Says Sue: “I’m working with someone who is tearing down an old grain elevator from Duluth that was built in the 1880s. It is made from old growth white pine and I am hoping to have the lumber reused into beds. Each bedroom will have a Japanese wabi-sabi feel from re-using old materials and finding beauty in the simplicity of it all.”

The new building that will house these beds represents an even grander project for the inn. Mark and Sue have been working on a new super-energy-efficient building, which follows Green America’s challenge for each of us to reduce our energy-use 50-percent in the next five years. We asked them to tell us more…

When we purchased this Inn we had two buildings that were energy hogs—old building with little insulation, rattly old windows, bad wiring, moldy areas that no matter what we did to improve we could not retrofit these buildings. So we decided to tear them down and rebuild an energy-efficient building. We free-cycled our buildings and many of the local folk came and took what they could use: siding, windows, old cabinets, and so on. Amazing to see how much of the buildings could be reused. We took much of the good wood out and what went to landfill was much less than originally figured.

Our new building was designed by a green architect from the area whose goal was to reduce our total energy usage by 50-percent. We received a CERTS grant (Clean Energy Resource Teams) based out of the University of Minnesota to help towards our design.

Our design takes advantage of our southern exposure and will have 20 large thermal solar panels mounted on the roof, designed to heat our water for our guests to use and for our laundry. In the winter when our guest load is down, the excess hot water will go to heat our cement slab floor on the ground level.

Our walls are 10-inches thick and made from SIPS panels, which is excellent insullation for our cold winters. We are also installing triple pane windows with the guest rooms facing east for the morning sun. We have heat pumps to help cool the room in the summer if needed and to extract heat from the outside in the winter. The new design allows us to retrieve heat from temps down to -4F. (Of course, we get much colder here so we do have a back-up boiler and will have small mounted European style radiators in each room. The building is wrapped airtight so we also will have an air exchanger to flip the air in a room quickly and quietly…

Click here to read the full feature >>