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GreenStep Cities at the 2016 LMC conference
Dan Thiede
07/01/2016 - 9:34am
When it comes to sustainability, it’s more likely these days that cities are working on advancing energy, water, economic, and environmental practices than not. This sense that ‘everyone’s doing it’ with sustainability is in part due to a statewide program called Minnesota GreenStep Cities, a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program designed specifically for Minnesota that now has over 100 participating cities. “Over 40% of Minnesota residents now live in a city that participates in the GreenStep Cities program,” noted Don Reeder with the League of Minnesota Cities. “An overwhelming number of cities are actively working on actions that fall into the five best practice categories of Building and Lighting, Land Use, Transportation, Environmental Management, and Economic and Community Development.” Awards and Recognition...
Pollinator-friendly prairie habitat around DNR solar installation
Fritz Ebinger
06/27/2016 - 3:03pm
Things are in bloom all over Minnesota right now, including solar energy, and more and more solar installations across the state will be supporting the creatures that pollinate our plants. Gov. Dayton recently signed the Solar Sanctuaries Act into law on May 31, 2016. The Solar Sanctuaries Act establishes voluntary native vegetation and habitat management practices for solar developers and local governments alike to maximize habitat creation for birds, pollinators, and other small wildlife. The new law serves to verify claims that commercial solar installations are helping to create pollinator habitat when they sign a Pollinator Pledge. CERTs...
Solar on the Fuller Farm barn near Trimont, MN
Marie Wood
06/26/2016 - 2:09pm
This article is an excerpt from the original by Marie Wood at “The Land” magazine. When the Fullers decided to save the barn on their farm near Trimont, MN and add on a shop, they embarked on a decade-long journey that ended with a reclaimed barn, a geothermal heating and cooling system for energy efficiency, and a solar array to power the farm with renewable energy. Both Doug and Kris Fuller grew up on local farms. Kris grew up on a dairy farm down the road. Their acreage, which they bought around 1990, includes a farmhouse, small lake, woods, pasture and 70 tillable acres. In May, they installed a 14 kilowatt solar array on the barn’s south-facing roof; a southern exposure is critical. The payback is estimated at seven to 10...
Solar Electricity for the Home, Farm, and Business
Lissa Pawlisch
06/26/2016 - 1:34pm
Solar energy is a hot topic in Minnesota, and people are hungry for in-depth, un-biased information. The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) adapted a popular series of guides for Minnesota audiences, and they’re now available for download. The new series of factsheets, called Solar Electricity for the Home, Farm, and Business, is designed to help you determine if a solar electric system will work for you.   Overview of Series Introduction: Basic educational information, myth busting, and orientation. Building & Site Assessment: Building and site conditions to consider. Conservation & Efficiency: Conserving and using energy more efficiently can reduce the system size and cost. System Components: Provides detailed information about system options and components. System Sizing: Proper sizing is important for a resource-efficient and...
MN Solar Suitability App
MN Dept. of Commerce
06/26/2016 - 12:17pm
Does your home or business get enough sun to generate solar power? You can now get an answer—quick, easy, and free—with a convenient online mapping tool called the Minnesota Solar App. Simply by typing in your address, you can get an instant analysis of the solar energy potential of your property. The app is available at http://mn.gov/solarapp and can be used on a computer, tablet or smartphone. “The Minnesota Solar App is a user-friendly tool that can help Minnesotans decide whether a solar power installation is right for them,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Solar is already a bright spot in Minnesota’s energy picture. It will only get bigger and brighter in the coming years. This app makes it even easier for more Minnesotans to go solar.” The typical single family home...
Minnesota Department of Commerce
MN Dept. of Commerce
06/25/2016 - 2:26pm
Affordable solar thermal systems are now within reach for more Minnesota homes and businesses. The Commerce Department announced that it will offer rebate opportunities beginning March 30, 2016 to all residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities as part of its Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program. Applications will be reviewed and funded on a first-come, first-served basis until funds have been fully reserved. Minnesota families may save up to $2,500, while businesses may save up to $25,000. “Solar thermal technology can take some of the unpredictability out of heating costs by adding renewable energy as a complement to current heating sources,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The rebates will now help make installing solar heating a more affordable option for Minnesota businesses and residents.” The state’s solar incentive program, signed in to law by...
CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy multi-family energy efficiency program
Joel Haskard
06/22/2016 - 12:34pm
CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy have joined forces to offer an incentive-based Multi-Family Building Efficiency program in Minnesota. Until now, the two utilities have not had a program that jointly addresses energy challenges in multi-family properties.   About program   An Energy Programs Consortium study estimated that 85 percent of multi-family units were built before 1990, showing there is room for substantial savings—anywhere from 30 to 75 percent—as a result of energy-efficiency improvements.* Multi-family building owners aiming to cut energy costs may be focusing on improvements to common areas—entrances, lobbies, etc. With so many opportunities throughout the whole building including resident units, CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy have introduced the...
Bill Mittlefehldt, former NE CERT Coordinator
Lissa Pawlisch
06/22/2016 - 12:17pm
Over the past eight years CERTs staff have had the honor of working with Bill Mittlefehldt as our Northeast Clean Energy Resource Team (NE CERT) Coordinator. Bill has been instrumental to increasing our network across the Northeast region, in advancing the GreenStep Cities program, in supporting community energy efforts throughout the region, and in cultivating the next generation of clean energy champions. When Bill was first hired his primary task was to build CERTs’ community connections to reach across the entire Northeast CERT region. He took this challenge seriously and began in earnest building relationships with over 50 clean energy partners from Ely and International Falls to Pine City and Barnum. Bill has never been afraid to reach out to someone new or to simply stop in somewhere to make a new connection...
CERTs summer interns Emma Ryan and Jinny Kim
Alexis Troschinetz
06/21/2016 - 2:48pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams get to host two interns this summer, one at the Great Plains Institute and another at the University of Minnesota. Keep reading to learn a little more about their studies, what they’ll be working on, and how to reach out.     Welcome, Emma Ryan!   Metro CERT is pleased to welcome Emma Ryan this summer as our Metro CERT Sustainable Communities Intern at the Great Plains Institute. Emma’s work will focus mainly on assisting with the 2016 Accelerator clean energy projects and seed grant projects, as well as working to develop a shared clean energy vision. As a rising Environmental Studies senior at Yale, she studies energy, sustainability, and health and has been involved with research-scale solar projects and solar outreach and education at Yale for three years....
Minnesota GreenStep Cities
Bill Mittlefehldt
06/21/2016 - 9:01am
There are now more than 100 cities in Minnesota participating in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. Most of the cities involved are small-to-medium-sized cities where the support of a savvy intern can help staff go the extra step on accomplishing best practices. But how should a mutually-beneficial internship be structured and run? A new GreenStep Cities Internship Manual answers these questions and more! If your city is looking for the support of an intern but unsure how to structure the mutually-beneficial opportunity, then the new Minnesota GreenStep Cities Intern Manual will be a valuable resource that can help you each step of the way. The GreenStep Cities intern for the City of La Crescent was recently featured...


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Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission