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Isaac Mielke
07/30/2015 - 2:11pm
Drive Electric Minnesota – an organization that promulgates electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in charging infrastructure statewide – presents the Zero Emission Charging Challenge (ZECC). ZECC hopes to power all public charging stations with Windsource, Xcel Energy’s renewable energy program. EVs produce no air pollutants, but the electricity necessary for charging exhausts fossil fuels. However, EVs can use either wind or solar power. When paired with renewable energy, EVs eliminate all air pollutants while driving and charging. Solar powered EV charging stations already exist in Albert Lea and Austin, as well as in the metro area at Como Park, McMurray Fields, SunRay Library, River Centre, the State Capital, Haaf Ramp, and the Minneapolis Public School Headquarters. Check out this interactive map to...
Green Jobs
Isaac Mielke
07/30/2015 - 12:06pm
Looking for a great green job in the clean energy sector? Below are four positions here in Minnesota that might be the perfect fit for you. Good luck with your applications!   Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) Executive Director This powerful position heads M-RETS. The Executive Director advises on policy, develops annual budgets, and serves as primary ambassador. M-RETS requires a passion for the renewable energy, five years of experience in the field, and extensive higher education. Learn more & apply >>   Neighborhood Energy Connection Communications Associate The Communications Associate writes newsletters, manages social media, and edits the website. Qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree and one year of related...
Isaac Mielke
07/21/2015 - 12:20pm
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) has recently partnered with the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) to offer online courses in its BuildingEnergy Masters Series. This partnership expands the MREA’s scope of training from renewable energy technologies to now include sustainable building practices as well. NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Masters Series runs on a platform powered by HeatSpring to give students access to the masters of building science, on their own time, from any location. Fall 2015 Courses Passive House in the Real World is a four-week online course that focuses on tips, tricks, pitfalls, and what to expect when making Passive House a reality. Led by instructor Mike Duclos, the course runs from September 14 to October 9, 2015. Deep Energy Retrofits is a 10-week online course taught by Marc Rosenbaum. Learn to “fix what we have” by examining...
Installing efficient lighting is one measure Springer has taken in his buildings
07/21/2015 - 10:48am
Tim Springer owns properties in Phillips and Powderhorn neighborhoods. Since his undergraduate days at Colby College in Maine, he has been implementing energy efficient measures. In the mid-1980s, he was a board member for the Recycling Association of Minnesota and board president for the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. Those efforts led him to UC-Berkeley, where he earned a Master’s in Energy and Resources. That was followed by a stint as a Waste Reduction consultant, and then co-founder and Executive Director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition. He is a bicyclist who hasn’t owned a car since 1984. Perhaps symbolically, he owned for six months a VW bug before it had a gas leak, caught on fire, and burned up. Mikki Morrissette: What have you done to sustainably enhance your rental units? Tim Springer: I own eight apartments in two fourplex buildings in the Powderhorn...
Dan Thiede
07/17/2015 - 10:35am
ENERGY STAR certification is a nationally recognized symbol of building efficiency. It tells current and potential occupants that owners care about running the building well, being financially prudent, and being environmentally responsible. There are currently two separate grant opportunities for ENERGY STAR building certification in Minnesota. The first is for commercial buildings within the City of Minneapolis who want to pursue certification. The second is for the Minnesota ENERGY STAR Challenge, which will select a community partner that wants to help promote certification to buildings in their area. Stay tuned – a third opportunity for commercial buildings statewide pursuing certification will be announced in the coming week. See below for more details on each opportunity or...
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/16/2015 - 4:22pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has just announced two new financing programs that are available for local governments and public entities in the state interested in pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. New Rev It Up Program to help local government units finance community energy efficiency, renewable energy projects   Through its new Rev It Up Program, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is soliciting request for proposals from local government units that are seeking low-cost, long-term capital to finance community energy efficiency and renewable energy system projects. The program allows units of local government to compete for funding designed to increase community energy efficiency systems in the built environments and to increase renewable energy production throughout the state that result in reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas...
New CHP plant being built at U of M
Isaac Mielke
07/15/2015 - 2:13pm
In 2007, the University of Minnesota decided to build a new source of heating and electricity. Shortly after an underground steam tunnel surprisingly survived the 2007 I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse, two boilers went offline. This combination convinced the University of Minnesota to invest in a $96 million combined heat and power plant (CHP) in the Old Main Utility Building. This project, projected to be complete in November 2016, will heat the entire campus and provide half of the electricity while reducing the campus’s carbon footprint and saving money. The University of Minnesota intends to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2020 and attain carbon neutrality by 2050. CHP facilities advance these goals, drastically boosting efficiency by using waste heat from electricity generation. The new CHP plant will allow the University of Minnesota to compete with other large...
Fritz Ebinger
07/15/2015 - 10:01am
If your farm has ever had demand charges on your utility bill, you know that they can have a dramatic impact on cost. Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid demand charges. This blog post walks you through a basic understanding of demand charges and then offers key tips to keep your bills lower.   What are demand charges?   Every utility in Minnesota classifies their customers into different electricity rate structures to pay for the electric grid and power generation. Typically, customers are classified into farm/residential, commercial, and industrial categories. Large commercial and industrial customers—including many farm facilities with equipment like grain dryers and irrigation pumps that rely on large volumes of electricity—are often placed on “demand accounts” and pay “demand charges” in their monthly bills. Customers on demand accounts see monthly energy...
Harmony Food Coop solar awning project
Joel Haskard
07/14/2015 - 4:55pm
In partnership with Beltrami Wellness Education for Long Life (B-WELL), the Rail River Folk School (RRFS) and Harmony Food Cooperative (HFC) in Bemidji, Minnesota recently completed energy audits with help from CERTs.   THE PROCESS   On February 18, 2014, Affordable Energy Solutions—a local Bemidji business—conducted energy audits at both RRFS and HFC. The audits began with basic information gathering from energy bills and facility dimensions, and proceed to take a look at the building envelope, heating and cooling systems, appliances and equipment, and behavioral practices. Additionally, solar site assessments were conducted at both facilities in January 2014 with the help of Diana Kuklinski and seven Leech Lake Tribal College carpentry students.   THE OUTCOMES...
Dan Hoffman with Farm Connections chat with Jack Hedin of Featherstone Farms about their solar installation
Fritz Ebinger
07/14/2015 - 3:20pm
Fritz Ebinger at CERTs joined Dan Hoffman with KSMQ TV’s Farm Connections and Jack Hedin of Featherstone Fruits and Vegetables recently to learn more about the farm’s solar installation and offer some insights for other producers thinking about solar. Click play below to watch the video. Highlights from the video: Jack Hedin with Featherstone shared that their 38 kW solar PV installation is meeting their expectiations. They used American-made panels and they are producing even better than the installer projected. Their grid-tied system cost $250,000 and had a payback period under seven years using USDA...


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