07/30/2014 - 12:00am
The idea of high-level sustainable living for residents of apartment buildings has been a concept in the minds of some in the Twin Cities metro area. Aeon, a non-profit organization, thought about transforming that concept into reality in their apartment housing properties. According to their website, Aeon is “a non-profit developer, owner, and manager of high-quality affordable apartment homes for individuals and families with low to moderate incomes and formerly homeless individuals”. Gina Ciganik, Vice President of Housing Development, felt that Aeon as an organization was making strides in sustainable programs, but felt that things could progress into something bigger, stating, “I wanted to find a more holistic approach to developing and operating high-performance, truly sustainable buildings”.
Ciganik formed a team to begin a pilot project, with a specific goal in mind:...
07/29/2014 - 12:08pm
It seems like summer has just barely started, but the Minnesota State Fair is just around the corner—August 21-Sept. 1. For the third straight year, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources will host an “Improve Your Home” energy exhibit at the Eco Experience on the north end of the fairgrounds. Check out who is exhibiting this year!
The exhibit will provide Minnesota homeowners, renters, and builders with many measures that can improve the energy-related operation of existing homes. It will demonstrate opportunities to invest in the performance, durability, health and safety of existing homes.
07/28/2014 - 3:06pm
All of us, at some point in life, were stuck indoors on a beautiful day, and wished we could be outside. As kids, we’ve daydreamed about our teacher conducting class outside. As adults, we’ve joked with a co-worker about moving a desk outside on a nice afternoon, longing to escape the confines of a stuffy, drab office. When many might consider an outdoor classroom as a lofty dream, Shakopee High School turned the dream into reality.
Shakopee High School had a vision to offer environmental education in a sustainable, outdoor classroom setting that could be used throughout the entire year. They decided to design and create the Shakopee Environmental Learning Center, which is located on the grounds of Shakopee High School. Initially, the idea began when former Principal Jim Murphy and master gardener Judi Tomczik, with additional input from a few teachers, wrote a grant seeking initial...
07/22/2014 - 11:02am
Over 30 people gathered July 16, 2014 in Royalton to tour and learn about exciting clean energy accomplishments and happenings in Royalton, Minnesota! Central Clean Energy Resource Team (Central CERT) hosted the tour in collaboration with the City of Royalton and its local Youth Energy Summit (YES!) Team. Participants heard from Mayor Andrea Lauer and learned about Minnesota GreenStep Cities, community-scale energy efficiency measures, solar energy, energy retrofits, and projects by Youth Energy Summit (YES!) Team, including oil recycling, and more!
Who is CERTs, anyway?
Sarah Hayden Shaw, Central CERT Coordinator, kicked off the event by talking about community energy and the value of collaborating together and learning from each other’s projects. The City of Royalton is a perfect place to highlight this sort of collaboration. The City is part of Minnesota...
07/16/2014 - 3:50pm
Did you know that Minnesota has an award-winning Solar Dream Team? It’s true! CERTs is helping a talented team of GIS professionals design an online mapping application for solar energy that will serve an array of stakeholders and the energy industry through the coming boom in solar—and they just won a national award for their efforts. Keep reading to get the full story and learn more.
Back in January of 2014, CERTs approached Len Kne with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota—a group that provides support for spatial research—and asked if he had any students that would be interested in mapping the solar potential of the entire state of Minnesota. A week later Len got back to us and said, “I found a Dream Team of masters in GIS students, and they like your idea. They’d like to...
07/16/2014 - 1:36pm
The Minnesota GreenStep Cities program is designed to challenge, assist, and recognize Minnesota cities that are “green stars.” Cities are challenged to work through a series of steps—and recognized for steps they’ve already taken—that increase the community’s sustainability.
Each city is assigned a category based on how many public buildings it owns, its employee count, what kinds of facilities and services it offers, and other characteristics. Its category determines how many best practices a community needs to implement to achieve full GreenStep status, and makes the goal reachable for both small towns and large cities.
The program assists cities by providing a framework for sustainability improvements. The program web site lists the GreenStep 28 best practices for cities, offers model ordinances, and has tools to...
07/15/2014 - 1:26pm
Sandstrom’s food distribution warehouse in Grand Rapids has a bright future after completing a recent lighting retrofit. They’ve been enjoying both the energy and money savings that comes with implementing a lighting retrofit.
The existing conditions were outdated with high power usage, yet offering low level light output. Add in humming ballasts, constant flickering bulbs, and high maintenance; you can start to paint a picture of a typical warehouse setting, right? A key concern for Sandstrom’s food supply warehouse was also the necessary covers that protected food products from mercury (in the event that a forklift were to come into contact with and accidentally break a bulb). They are relieved to no longer worry about that with their new and improved LED lighting.
Sandstrom’s completed the retrofit based upon the possibility of it being cost effective with...
07/14/2014 - 12:17pm
In August 2012, the University of Minnesota began a campus-wide lighting installation process. The LED lighting integrated with digital controls now reduces the energy consumed in stairwells by 90 percent.
Before this project, many of the stairwells were fully illuminated 24 hours per day throughout 120 buildings across campus. Once the project is complete, nearly 6,000 W Series LED luminaires will illuminate campus stairwells, amounting to nearly $180,000 savings annually.
Just today, they started retrofitting stairwells in Hayes Hall on the St. Paul campus where CERTs is housed. We were delighted to walk out into the hallway today and find the contractor installing LEDs with motion sensors! Below is more information about the retrofits, as well as a couple photos.
“LED lighting has been received really well,” Alicia Phillips, an engineer and senior energy auditor...
07/13/2014 - 10:20am
Morrison County has given a green light to a plan to build a solar farm east of Little Falls. The 10-megawatt project is one of several large-scale solar farms expected to be built in Central Minnesota in the next few years.
Geronimo Energy is the company behind the Morrison County project, which will operate under the subsidiary Lindy Solar. The solar farm encompasses 70 acres near Minnesota Highway 27 in Little Falls Township.
Geronimo is the same company behind a distributed solar project chosen by state regulators last year in a competitive bidding process to provide electricity for Xcel Energy. The 100-megawatt Aurora Solar Project includes about 24 solar farms around the state, with three in Stearns County and one in Benton County.
The Morrison County solar farm isn’t part of the Aurora project, said Nathan Franzen, director of solar for Geronimo. The company is...
07/10/2014 - 11:23am
We often receive questions from homeowners about how to get started with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Recently a gentleman named Jim in Corcoran, MN reached out to us with a question on this topic, and we decided to share the answer with everyone in the hopes that it will help you, too.
I am a homeowner in Corcoran (Hennepin County). My family and I are very interested in learning more about energy alternatives for heating and cooling our residence. Last winter, we, like many others, took a big financial hit with the cost of propane; we’d like to reduce — or eliminate — our dependence on it. We are especially interested in a system that would include the integration of solar and geothermal. (And anything else you may suggest.) Can someone come out to our home and assess our energy needs, then make some recommendations to us?...