08/22/2013 - 4:11pm
If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, Chuck Waibel and Carol Ford should be blushing. In the fall and winter of 2012 in Ashby, Minnesota, Paradox Farm used Waibel and Ford’s model for the Garden Goddess deep winter greenhouse. Within northern climates, a three-season growing period is normally all that can be achieved due to the bitter cold and heavy snow. However, the Garden Goddess design of passive solar technology coupled with underground heat storage, crop growth in the dead of winter is possible—meaning the community can be supplied with fresh, local produce all year long.
Co-owners and operators of Paradox Farm, Dr. Sue Wika and Dr. Tom Prieve, run the 160-acre farm and focus on ecological sustainability, including matter cycling (minimal use of off-farm inputs), maximized use of solar energy, and practices to enhance biodiversity. Along with running the farm...
08/22/2013 - 3:41pm
The field of solar energy is growing at an amazing rate. But before new technologies can make it into our homes and businesses, extensive research must be done first. This is precisely what the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) and Apex Solar have done recently with solar thermal air heating for ventilation.
Within every structure, a supply of fresh, oxygen-rich air is required for a variety of reasons, including keeping people comfortable and healthy and preventing moisture buildup and mold growth. This fresh air can be supplied by venting air from outdoors to indoors, while simultaneously pumping exhausted air out. This simple idea gets a little more complicated when you take into account the temperature difference between outside and inside (especially in cold winter months). Recently, RREAL and Apex Solar dedicated themselves to investigating the use of solar air heating in...
08/22/2013 - 8:30am
The Ely Area Senior Center is an important fixture in the Ely community. It has operated out of an old mechanic’s garage since 1982 and provides services to seniors six days a week. In addition to being a place where people can socialize, the center serves as a space for the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) lunch program, a central bus location, and is used for public city hearing and voting events because it is handicap accessible.
Because of the building’s age and previous use, it was not very energy efficient, and that combined with the center’s popularity has meant that utility bills were beginning to skyrocket. With energy costs straining the Center’s limited budget, the Ely Area Senior Center began to look for solutions.
In 2010, the City of Ely helped the Center to obtain a grant for the installation of solar heating panels. In order to make sure the Ely Senior...
08/22/2013 - 8:15am
Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, has been looking at all things energy in a series of videos and reports on energy use. He and other reporters have been trying to break down how and where different types of energy are employed in the U.S.
As it stands, renewable energy makes up only about 10 percent of what we use in the United States. But as energy from fossil fuels declines, renewable energy will likely be asked to shoulder more of the load.
Listen to the discussion on MPR’s Daily Circuit among Alexis Madrigal, Kerri Miller, and listeners.
See the post on the MPR website >>
08/22/2013 - 8:04am
In 2011 the Town Board of Thomson Township was looking for a way to increase energy efficiency in the township’s public buildings as a way to reduce costs for their citizens.
Every public building got an energy audit to determine the best ways that energy could be saved through upgrades such as new light fixtures, occupancy controls, and heating and cooling adjustments. Minnesota Power and Minnesota Energy Resource conducted the analyses done to the buildings and the Esko Fire Hall was selected to receive the first upgrades.
Armed with the knowledge gained from the audit, the Township applied for a 2012 CERTs seed grant to help implement the improvements suggested in the final analysis of the Fire Hall. This included upgrading to more efficient lighting and the installation of light controls and timers to ensure that the lights are only on when needed. After receiving the CERTs...
08/21/2013 - 9:22am
Tis’ the season for new steering committee members! We’re excited to introduce you to our new batch of volunteer steering committee members who will be working hard to bring more clean energy projects into their regions across Minnesota.
Before all that, though, we want to send out a special heart-felt THANK YOU to the stellar folks who are stepping off of our steering committee after years of volunteer service. They have been a real wind in the sails of CERTs and are all clean energy champions within their own communities. A big CERTs thanks to: Don Graves, John Baumgartner, Lola Schoenrich, Abby Finis, Neely Crane-Smith, Cheryal Lee Hills, Robert McLean, Dawn Hegland, Norm Erickson, Roger Warehime, Holli Arp, Jack Potter, Tom Warmka, Kevin Vickerman, Brian Christiansen, Steve Davis and John Oeljenbruns (Brian, Steve and John’s terms end in September, 2013).
And now, without...
08/20/2013 - 3:55pm
Do you work for or own a green business or organization? NOW is the time to get your business or organization more exposure to the green community in Minnesota.
The Do It Green! Directory features hundreds of sustainable green businesses and organizations in Minnesota—is yours one of them?
You can apply to become a Directory member by September 15th to get listed in the print, online, and downloadable directory for 2014.
The 2014 edition will be expanded to include Green Routes members, has more search functions online, and will be distributed to more locations throughout greater Minnesota!
Apply by September 15th to be included >>
08/14/2013 - 10:06am
As many folks know, the cleanest energy of all is the BTU we never use. With this in mind, recycling products is a great energy saver. CERTs has participated for several years with the Recycle Your Holidays campaign to help homeowners recycle old, broken holiday light strands, and we also have a fantastic location finder available for recycling other lights, like CFLs and fluorescents.
Now there is a new player in Minnesota, ReUSE Minnesota, and they are looking beyond recycling to how products can be reused, rented, or repaired. We caught up with Stacey White, Sustainability Coordinator, University Services,...
08/13/2013 - 4:12pm
The Northland Arboretum (the Arb) in Brainerd, Minnesota, has worked to educate and engage its visitors on important environmental issues for decades. This nonprofit organization provides nature trails that are available year-round for hiking, biking, snow-shoeing and skiing. The Arb also offers classes, workshops, and seminars that are held at the Arboretum’s Visitor Center. They can now add solar energy to their list of offerings, complete with engaging learning tools.
The Arb allows visitors to enjoy and learn about native plant and animal species in a number of different habitats, and now renewable energy. Over the past two years the Arb has made exciting new additions to the visitor’s center, including a solar PV array. system with a touch screen interface that merges the data from solar panels and energy cost data together. The result is an interactive program that is designed...
08/13/2013 - 9:58am
The Minnesota GreenStep Cities program includes 28 best practices that cities strive to achieve, some of which involve making energy efficient changes to both existing buildings and infrastructure and new developments. Although progress can be tracked within the program by how many best practices have been achieved, hard data of the improvements has been lacking—until now. Recently, Diana McKeown, Metro CERT Director, sat down with Rick Carter, the Senior Vice President of LHB, Inc., to find out how the data gap is being bridged through the Regional Indicators Initiative.
Diana McKeown: How did the Regional Indicators Initiative get started?
Rick Carter: The Regional Indicators Initiative was conceived as a way to track the progress of cities involved in the GreenStep Cities (GSC) Program. From a list of 20 cities who...