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With AmeriCorps member Joan Van Grinsven at the helm, the city has reengaged with B3 Benchmarking in the past year and is making improvements based on the results.
Joel Haskard
10/01/2014 - 9:24am
The story from Lake Crystal shows that leadership must not necessarily come from the top; interns can do a great deal of directing positive change in a city. With AmeriCorps member Joan Van Grinsven at the helm, the city has reengaged with B3 Benchmarking in the past year and is making improvements based on the results. Joan directed the updating of meter readings and building information in B3 Benchmarking and examined the analyses provided by the program for both the city and school district. “To the surprise of many, the city’s building’s fell all across the spectrum of performance, with the newest building on the poorer performing side.” She then considered the next-step options available for the city saying, “Since Lake Crystal couldn’t go forward with the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program due to budget constraints, we prioritized the Lake...
Community Solar survey
Lissa Pawlisch
09/19/2014 - 4:08pm
You might remember seeing a survey in February asking a few questions about Community Solar Gardens (CSGs). CSGs are a way for Minnesotans to subscribe to a portion of a large solar project and receive credit on their energy bill for their portion of the project’s electricity production—just as they would if the panels were on their own roofs. CERTs is continuing its work with researchers from the University of St. Thomas to better understand which aspects of community solar are most important to you and which factors would most influence your decision to subscribe to a project. We’d love to include your insights in a follow-up survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. The results of the survey will be shared in a report in early 2015. Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name. Please...
Energy Coaches in action
Trevor Drake
09/19/2014 - 12:28pm
A pilot project in Minneapolis is testing the idea that business advocates might be the key to unlocking energy efficiency in the small business sector.   The Challenge   Energy efficiency advocates often look for where the highest efficiency gains can be achieved for the lowest amount of cost and effort. In looking at commercial energy efficiency, that mindset leads to a focus on large commercial and industrial buildings. While those customers certainly do have the potential for great gains, small buildings are also vitally important to our economy and to our efforts to become more efficient with energy usage. The U.S. Department of Energy did a good job of making this case in an article it released in June of 2013, backing its investments in small commercial energy efficiency: In the United States, the commercial building sector — of which more than 90 percent...
EV event at the capitol
Joel Haskard
09/18/2014 - 9:26am
The big National Drive Electric Week event is coming up this weekend—Sunday, September 21st from 1:00 to 4:00pm at the State Capitol Mall. To learn more about the event and electric vehicles (EVs) in general, we spoke with Matthew Blackner, Founder of ZEF Energy. Joel Haskard: Who should come out to this event? Matthew Blackner: Ever wondered what the fuss was all about? Want to cut through the marketing guff and ask ACTUAL owners what the limitations are and how to deal with them? Then this event is for you! If you like what you hear, or want to feel what it is like to drive a car with instant torque, there is a test drive of a fleet electric vehicles round a track on the Thursday afterwards. Joel: What is something surprising folks might not know about EVs in...
Jim Beecher of St. Louis Park drives a 2013 Nissan Leaf
Joel Haskard
09/18/2014 - 9:22am
More and more electric vehicles (EVs) are entering the national marketplace and hitting Minnesota roads. CERTs is doing a series of interviews with EV drivers to learn about their experiences. Meet Jim: Jim Beecher of St. Louis Park drives an EV (Nissan Leaf 2013) because he decided he didn’t want to buy gasoline anymore. He previously drove a Ford Fairmont which he converted as well as a converted 1964 Volkswagen Bug. Joel Haskard: Why did you decide to get an EV? Jim Beecher: After the 9/11 attacks and the mounting evidence of global climate change, I decided I didn’t want to buy gasoline anymore. In 2003 I was able to get a hold of a partially-converted Ford Fairmont, which I finished and drove for three years. I wanted to do another conversion, and this time I refurbished and converted a 1964 Volkswagen Bug. I drove that car through 2009, when a charger mishap...
MN GreenCorps
Alexis Troschinetz
09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is currently accepting applications from individuals interested in AmeriCorps service with Minnesota GreenCorps for immediate placement during the 2014-2015 program year in the City of Maplewood. Help the City meet energy and sustainability goals by implementing their Partners in Energy Program as follows: Serve as the City’s Energy Ambassador Assemble an energy action team made up of leaders and stakeholders across the community Help create a strategic energy action plan with an incentive and award program for voluntary compliance with the City’s Green Building Code Networking, outreach, and education for schools/businesses/neighborhood groups Work on completion of Green Step Cities best practices Help implement energy efficiency upgrades to City buildings and track improvements How do you apply? The member application...
Touring solar installations at Carleton College before learning about community solar opportunities
Michelle Palm
09/15/2014 - 11:58am
Minnesotans came together at Carleton College’s Weitz Center in Northfield on Thursday, August 21st to learn about community solar gardens and three projects around the Southeast CERT region. This open event was held to educate people about what a few groups in the region are trying and what they have learned from starting community solar garden projects.   Touring Carleton’s renewable energy installations   Solar at Carleton: Martha Larson, Manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability at Carleton College, welcomed the group and gave an overview of Carleton’s renewable projects and their ideas for the future. Carleton has a 10.6kW solar photovoltaic (PV) panel array on the roof of a residence hall, Cassat-James, which was constructed in 2009. The panels produce 10MWh per year on average, which is roughly 1-2% of the building’s energy. Additionally, they have solar...
Tim Johnson, pastor of Cherokee Park United Church in St. Paul, says visitors frequently inquire about the church’s solar array. (Photo by Ken Paulman / Midwest Energy News)
Frank Jossi
09/05/2014 - 10:35am
This story by Frank Jossi is republished from the original at Midwest Energy News. Bethel Evangelical Lutheran and Minnesota Community Solar came together earlier this year to promote a solar garden that will sit atop the roof of the Minneapolis church. Without a panel yet installed, the 40-kilowatt (kW) solar garden attracted enough support from the church’s members and surrounding Bancroft neighborhood to be fully subscribed. The project encapsulated for Rev. Brenda L. Froisland a deeper spiritual tug that speaks to her faith and the teachings of Christianity. “Part of our vision is that in gratitude, Bethel amplifies God’s grace, nourishes God’s creation, reaches out and builds community,” she said. “This is very much a manifestation of those points and our vision. “...
Join the CERTs team!
Maggie Kozak
09/02/2014 - 10:37am
Love energy efficiency, renewables, and helping others save money? Like to work with local units of government on helping them finance their clean energy projects? Then consider joining CERTs! We have a new position open—a Local Government Outreach Coordinator. Read on for more information. If you’re interested in applying, click here for more details. The application deadline is September 15, 2014, so apply now! Summary of Job Description: Over the past several years CERTs has worked to build its network with local units of government through efforts like Minnesota GreenStep Cities, developing a local government energy efficiency story series, and by promoting financing tools like the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and Local Public Buildings...
A solar energy system constructed at the Grand Rapids DNR headquarters is one of the largest in the state of Minnesota.
Bill Mittlefehldt
09/02/2014 - 8:48am
This article is republished from the original by Britta Arendt at the Herald Review. In 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton issued two Executive Orders, creating a comprehensive energy savings plan for state facilities. It required all state agencies to reduce facilities energy usage by 20 percent by the end of 2015. In Grand Rapids, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is leading the way with one of the largest solar energy systems in the state. This week, DNR staff and media were given a tour of the installation of the 105 kW solar array at the Grand Rapids DNR headquarters. A large block of solar panels, the system supplies about 35 percent of the Grand Rapids facility’s electricity. It uses 256, 410-watt Minnesota-made solar panels...


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