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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...
SE CERT tours Red Wing solar projects, including this carport at City Hall
Chris Meyer
10/26/2016 - 12:13pm
On September 26, over twenty five people joined the Southeast CERT tour of the City of Red Wing’s clean energy projects. Maintenance Shop: The tour began at Red Wing Public Works Maintenance Shop, where participants learned about Red Wing’s recycled waste oil from fleet vehicles used to partially heat the public works building, LED street lighting, and production of 87,800 kW/h from two solar arrays. The maintenance shop is net negative energy, as the electricity is provided by solar and they use waste oil from other projects to heat the shop. City Hall: Folks then carpooled downtown to see the solar installation over the City Hall Car Port, which not only generates power but has the added benefit of shading parked cars in the summer and providing cover from the snow in the winter. “People love it and try to get here early to park to the winter,” said Jay McCleary, retired Public...
Diana McKeown introduces Metro CERT Staff at Annual Event
Diana McKeown
10/26/2016 - 11:58am
Nearly 200 people attended the 9th annual Metro CERT event on October 18th at the University of St. Thomas for a two-part afternoon event followed by networking.   An energy-efficient venue: Elise Amel, psychology professor welcomed attendees to the Anderson Student Center, the first LEED certified project on the St. Thomas campus. The building is designed to reduce energy use by 17% beyond code requirements, attained in the following ways: Building insulation by thermal envelope High-performance windows and glazing Lighting and temperature controls Variable air volume controls Daylight sensors for light fixtures High-efficiency pumps, motors and fans Additional high-efficiency equipment 92% of all regularly occupied spaces have individual occupant electricity controls. In 2014 we added 96 photovoltaic panels manufactured by tenKsolar in...

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