12/02/2014 - 12:20pm
This story was originally published at Midwest Energy News.
Construction is underway on a $96 million combined heat and power (CHP) plant in another aging facility near the river’s edge at the University of Minnesota that will dramatically cut the campus’ carbon footprint while driving down the cost of energy. The project, in the 1912-vintage Old Main Utility Building, will produce enough steam to heat the entire campus and meet about half of its electricity demand.
Two dangerous warning signs occurred separately a few years ago to remind staff at the University of Minnesota that the sprawling campus needed a new source of heating and electricity.
The University’s main campus, along the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, is largely heated by the...
11/10/2014 - 6:01pm
A huge factor in the success of the Clean Energy Resource Teams are our steering committee members. As you hopefully know by now, we work via seven regional teams that span Minnesota. These teams are made up of a diverse mix of people: individuals, small business owners, farmers, local utility representatives, members of environmental groups, educators, and local government representatives.
Each team is guided by a local steering committee that sets regional priorities, identifies emerging energy issues and opportunities, and directs grant funding. They volunteer their time with us and become friends in the process.
We’d like to thank the following individuals who have stepped off of our steering committees during the last year:
11/10/2014 - 5:35pm
Camphill Village Minnesota is located on a 500-acre biodynamic farm ten miles north of Sauk Centre in West Central Minnesota. The mission of Camphill Village Minnesota is to create and sustain a community where people with and without disabilities live, work, and care for each other to foster social, spiritual, cultural, and agricultural renewal.
Camphill Village Minnesota turned to John Duevel and his business Three Seasons And More to explore installing a solar thermal hot water system.
“John had worked with us on smaller efficiency projects and showed a real enthusiasm for solar energy not to mention he felt aligned with the overall philosophy of our Camphill community,” says Camphill staffer Kristin Wilson. “The result of his work, a four panel system on one of our homes (Nicholas Coleman House) is a fully functioning...
11/10/2014 - 11:55am
As part of the Obama Administration’s effort to double energy productivity by 2030 and reduce carbon emissions in commercial buildings, the Energy Department recently announced $9 million to encourage investments in energy-saving technologies that can be tested and deployed in offices, shops, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and other types of commercial buildings. The funding will facilitate the implementation of market-ready solutions across the U.S. to improve commercial building energy efficiency, with a goal of demonstrating 20 percent savings or more across a variety of approaches.
Last year, commercial buildings accounted for approximately 20 percent of total U.S. energy use, equivalent to about 18 quadrillion British thermal units of energy. Owners and occupants could cut energy waste, saving an estimated tens of billions of dollars annually, if they operated their buildings...
11/10/2014 - 10:39am
“I couldn’t be more excited to work on clean energy initiatives,” said Peter Lindstrom, the newest member of the CERTs team. Peter is spearheading outreach and education to Minnesota cities, counties, and schools about approaches for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, particularly through the Guaranteed Energy Saving Program (GESP).
Working with local governments is familiar ground for Peter. He has served on the Falcon Heights City Council since 2000 and is currently in his second term as mayor. He is an active member of the Regional Council of Mayors, including serving as its representative on the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Steering Committee.
Most recently, Peter was assistant director of the Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, executive director of SciMathMN, and...
11/06/2014 - 5:50pm
Last heating season was one for the record books, and on the verge of the deep freeze this year, many communities are concerned about how to keep their homes, businesses, and institutions warm without breaking the bank. This is particularly true in rural communities where there is higher dependence on delivered fuels like propane and fuel oil.
We spoke with Jason Edens, Director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), about their approach to renewable heating. RREAL manufactures solar-powered furnaces and installs both solar thermal and solar PV systems through their installation arm, REAL Solar.
Joel Haskard: Give us your take about last year’s heating issues.
Jason Edens: The perfect storm of the Polar vortex and a wet harvest last year led to immense demand...
11/06/2014 - 1:17pm
Overlooking the town of St. Peter, Minnesota, Gustavus Adolphus College is beautiful campus. Over the past few years Gustavus has been able to add a variety of renewable energy systems to add to its charms, including a real focus on solar thermal hot water systems. To learn more, we spoke with James Dontje, Director of Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation in Environmental Studies.
Joel Haskard: Tell us why Gustavus has focused so much on solar thermal as a renewable energy technology.
James Dontje: As a part of our overall environmental stewardship and climate action effort, we have a commitment to reducing our fossil fuel emissions in general and our greenhouse gas emissions in particular. While the fact that electricity...
11/04/2014 - 2:41pm
Joel Haskard with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) spoke with Rachel Boucher, owner of Rach-Al-Paca Farm in Hastings, about their solar thermal hot water project and the savings that they’ve been experiencing in their operations as a result of the installation.
Joel Haskard: Rachel, tell us a little bit about your farm.
Rachel Boucher: We live on a 20 acre farm near Hastings, where we raise sheep, alpacas, and goats. We operate a custom fiber mill on the property. We make yarn and clothing from our animals’ fleece, but 90% of the time, we process for other people. We have 5 solar panels on a huge rack next to the mill building. We have a lot more detail on our website at http://www.rachalpacafarm.com.
Joel: How did you decide to do a solar thermal install?
Rachel: Washing the fiber requires copious amounts...
10/31/2014 - 3:25pm
On October 15th folks from across the West Central CERT region met at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Panelists shared experience and insights gained from their projects, partly funded by WC CERT seed grants. After Q&A on the patio, participants enjoyed the sunny day with a tour of Prairie Woods’ clean energy projects.
Greater Milan Initiative – Sustainable Energy Utility
During the panel discussion, Ann Thompson with Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) of Milan talked about their Community Center Energy Revitalization Project. The SEU purchased Milan’s old school building for $1 to serve as a community center. As many communities who have gone through this process have learned, a number of these older school buildings require a lot of energy to heat. With that in mind, the SEU pursued a...
10/28/2014 - 1:10pm
On October 15th, 2014 about two dozen people met at the League of Minnesota Cities in St. Paul and online for the first of eight Minnesota GreenStep Cities Workshops in the 2014-2015 series. The workshop focused on energy benchmarking and introduced the newest GreenStep program, “Step 4.”
Katie Schmitt from the Weidt Group started the group off with a presentation on energy benchmarking using the B3 (Buildings, Benchmarking and Beyond!) system. Katie described in detail how to navigate the program, the importance of keeping data current (hint: have accounts payable enter the utility data as soon as the bill arrives!) and how to use the information that comes out of the...