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LED lighting upgrades at The Barn Theatre in Willmar we funded in part by a WC CERT seed grant
Peter Michaels
12/14/2016 - 2:20pm
With the help of a $5,000 CERTs grant, The Barn Theatre in Willmar, Minnesota upgraded their 100 year-old building by installing 139 new LED light fixtures. Due to the success of the project, future renovations are planned to improve the lighting in the lower level green room, dressing room, and the third level floor area! The Barn Theatre has served the City of Willmar for many years. However, in 2014 the Board of Directors decided it was time to renovate and preserve the facility in order to better suit the growing organization and the community. A major issue with the building was the light quality and high energy bills. To alleviate this problem, the Board agreed to upgrade the lighting to LED technology. The project has recently been completed and the results have been extremely positive. The West Central Tribune...
Students support the environment at 2016 EarthFest Expo in Rochester
Peter Michaels
12/13/2016 - 2:59pm
Over 500 individuals attended the one-day EarthFest Expo, which is a part of a weeklong EarthFest celebration hosted at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota. This celebration brings people together to learn about environmental products and services, get involved in local sustainability efforts, and take part in clean-up events. The EarthFest Expo was hosted on April 24, 2016, at the Mayo Civic Center and offered a lot to those who attended the free event. This year’s expo featured 40 vendors of environmental products and services, informational displays, and the Rochester Public Library’s book bike. Vendor booths at the 2016 EarthFest Expo in Rochester. “Even though we have a lot of good volunteers, the majority of the work falls on about six of us. The CERTs grant took a lot of pressure off our funding concerns, so that really helped,” said Ivan Idso, the lead organizer...
Aisles in Pomme de Terre Foods in Morris
Peter Michaels
12/12/2016 - 3:41pm
Background: Pomme de Terre Foods has rented many spaces in Morris since it opened in 1971, but they purchased a building and renovated the north end of it so they could reopen for business in 2014. The south side of the facility was unable to be renovated due to a lack of funds. Their goal was to renovate this second side, so it could eventually be rented out by a complementary business. Obstacles—like ceiling damage from a roof leak—kept this from happening. Pomme de Terre Foods used a seed grant from WC CERT to fix ceiling damage, conduct an energy audit, and implement audit findings to reduce energy consumption. While the ceiling was being fixed they added more insulation, and they also added occupancy sensors to offices and restrooms, a new LED exit sign, LED display and cooler lighting, installed a programmable thermostat (and programmed it...
Solar installation at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa, MN
Peter Michaels
12/07/2016 - 3:42pm
Shortly after receiving a Central CERT Seed Grant, the Lutheran Church of the Cross (LCC) in Nisswa, MN installed a 7.56 kW ground-mounted photovoltaic system. This system not only saves the church 10% on their electricity costs, but also educated their youth and demonstrated the benefits of renewable energy to their community to ensure environmental stability and sustainability. After five years of planning, this renewable energy project was completed in May 2016 and was designed and installed by RREAL (Rural Renewable Energy Alliance). The project was led by LCC’s Creation Care Team to meet the church’s eco-spirituality mission to lead by example in sustainability efforts. Their primary goal was to educate and demonstrate energy-efficiency and renewable energy technology to their congregation of 1,500 members, youth, and the regional community....
Biwabik City Hall
Peter Michaels
12/07/2016 - 1:20pm
The City of Biwabik is located in Northeast Minnesota with a population of about 1,000 citizens. As of late, this town has been actively focusing efforts on reducing their electricity usage. They decided to begin with Biwabik City Hall, which had been illuminated with 62 inefficient lights for the past 20 years. A $2,000 Seed Grant from Northeast CERT provided funding for project labor costs. Originally, the plan was to replace all 62 light fixtures in the facility, but due to the quality of lighting supplied by the new LED fixture they were able to brighten the building using only 52 fixtures. This happy surprise engendered even more savings for the city’s taxpayers. Due to the success of the project, the City of Biwabik is now moving their efforts on to improving the lighting in their Public Works garage and the City Hall parking lot....
Peter Michaels
12/06/2016 - 4:36pm
In the 2015-2016 school year, 5th grade students at St. Dominic Parish School in Northfield focused their learning on helping the environment. Their mission was to find all the electronic devices in their school and identify the biggest ‘energy hogs.’ At the end of the school year, these students presented their findings at an energy fair and created a plan to help improve their school’s energy efficiency! As of late, St. Dominic Parish School has been leading by example when it comes to environmental stewardship. In the past two years, the parish has installed 678 4-foot LED bulbs and replaced their old steam furnace with a new 95% efficient hot-water boiler. However, they didn’t stop there. During the 2015-2016 school year, the focused shifted to educating their fifth graders on helping the environment through energy-saving...
Joel Haskard
11/30/2016 - 4:30pm
Austin Utilities is a community-owned, not-for-profit electric, water, and natural gas utility, serving more than 12,000 customers within a community of over 23,000 people in Austin, MN. The utility officially opened its new, energy-efficient 105,000 sq. ft. Service and Operation Center at the end of July. We interviewed General Manager Mark Nibaur to learn more.   Tell us a little bit about the new building.   Mark Nibaur: The building allowed Austin Utilities to consolidate departments operating out of seven different buildings and three properties. The new facility has all operations from customer service, administrative, gas/water/electric construction, meter shops and labs for all three utilities, warehouse, vehicle storage and fleet repair. The new building would be labeled as a “Typical Midwest Utility and Public Works” style. The facility incorporates an...
Solar array financed with PACE atop the Greenway Office Building in Minneapolis
Diana McKeown
11/02/2016 - 3:30pm
The Greenway Office Building—located a block from the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis—epitomizes green buildings both in design and location. Built in 1999 by the Green Institute (a former CERTs partner organization), the building includes solar PV, geothermal heating and cooling, and a green roof. Constructed to many of the design points of LEED (Leadership Energy Efficient Design) this ENERGY STAR building hosts many nonprofit and for-profit tenants working toward better housing and a more energy independent future. Wellington Management recently utilized PACE financing to replace the building’s aging solar PV array. What is PACE? Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive...
MN Dept. of Commerce
11/01/2016 - 1:33pm
There are some basic energy-saving steps we can all take to keep the warm air in and our utility bills down this fall and winter. A few simple no-cost or low-cost measures can make a big difference for the safety, comfort and efficiency of our homes. The Minnesota Commerce Department, which includes the State Energy Office, offers the following tips: Get an energy audit. The first step to energy efficiency is an advanced home energy assessment to diagnose the best ways to save energy. An audit can be arranged through your utility or a nonprofit energy group. Lower your thermostat. When you are at home or awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or away from home, turn your thermostat down about 10 degrees—either manually or...
Attendees at Woodbury community solar gardens workshop
Lissa Pawlisch
10/31/2016 - 11:46am
On October 27th, 2016 around 40 people gathered at Woodbury City Hall to learn about community solar gardens and network with experts and developers. Community Solar Gardens are centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that produce electricity for participating subscribers. They’re great for people that want to go solar but are unable to do so on their own. Attendees lived in apartments or condos, had shaded roofs at home, didn’t have space for solar, or were simply interested in learning more.   Workshop Agenda: Terry Chaney from the Neighborhood Energy Connection kicked off the meeting talking to attendees about energy efficiency opportunities and programs that people should consider when going solar. Learn more about programs. Next we heard from Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Statewide Director, about the basics about...


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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