07/29/2013 - 11:36am
The Energy Center of Wisconsin was awarded a 2011 Conservation and Applied Research Grant from the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources for field testing drainwater heat recovery (DHR) systems in Commercial Buildings.
DHR systems include replacing a portion of vertical drain pipe with a heat exchanger module. The heat exchanger module can consist of a copper vertical pipe (drain line) to match the diameter of drain pipe being replace, surrounded by a coiling smaller diameter copper pipe (supply line). The system works when warm water (say, from a shower, washing machine, or dish wash station) flows vertically down through the drain line and cool water flows upward through the supply line and onto a water heater for additional heating.
CERTs recently sat in on a webinar from the Energy Center about the nearly completed study. The main take-aways are as follows:...
07/28/2013 - 3:09pm
In 2009, when the City of Saint Paul received a substantial Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) from the U.S. Department of Energy, city leaders wanted to implement high-profile projects that demonstrated the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state of Minnesota.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the EECBG program was designed to help local units of government create or retain jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce energy use. Saint Paul was able to use this funding on a variety of energy efficiency projects in its municipal buildings, but one project was unique, in that it served as a model for a particular type of building owned by public and private organizations across the state: parking ramps.
Lighting Retrofit: In one of Saint Paul’s most successful and visible projects supported by EECBG...
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/25/2013 - 4:43pm
Many businesses, including large commercial and industrial (C&I) facilities, have the potential to realize significant energy savings from untapped improvements in operations and maintenance (O&M) practices. However, financial obligations, time and staffing constraints, and existing institutional practices create significant barriers to implementation.
Many customers also lack experience with energy and resource accounting tools for benchmarking the efficiency of their facilities, and for tracking progress of efficiency and conservation efforts. An economic environment characterized by slow growth and high uncertainty can contribute to the reluctance to make significant capital outlays for energy efficiency upgrades. These factors increase the urgency for utility Conservation Improvement Programs (CIPs) to assist customers in achieving energy savings from low/no-cost (LC/NC)...
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/25/2013 - 4:27pm
To reduce energy use and save on utility bills in its municipal facilities, Itasca County entered into a performance contract with Energy Services Group in 2010. Part of that contract called for upgrading the energy management controls in the 115,000 square-foot Itasca County Courthouse.
You can learn about their many energy-saving projects in a case study from CERTs.
Implementation: The Courthouse energy management controls project included the following upgrades:
Recommissioning the existing direct digital control (DDC) system and expanding that system to include additional portions of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system (see below for how a DDC system works)
Reprogramming control loops
Installation of wireless thermostats
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/25/2013 - 3:55pm
The City of Golden Valley used the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking tool and energy assessments to identify opportunities for energy savings in two of its buildings. Lighting improvements were identified as cost-effective energy saving measures to pursue. The lighting retrofits are now saving the city $2,500 per year in the two buildings.
Implementation: The city replaced 224 inefficient light fixtures in the 12,500 square-foot Vehicle Maintenance Building and the 15,900 square-foot Park Maintenance Building. Most of the lighting upgrades replaced older T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts with efficient T8 lamps and electronic ballasts.
Outcomes—energy saved, CO2 reduced, increased productivity: Comparing the baseline year of 2010, before the upgrades were finalized, to 2012, when the project was completed, electric use in the Vehicle Maintenance Building decreased 15 percent. For the...
07/23/2013 - 12:41pm
It was a beautiful day to tour the state’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installation on July 19th, 2013 in Slayton, Minnesota. With the sun high and bright in the sky and only puffy white clouds to speak of, 35 members of SW/WC CERT toured the 7.5 football fields worth of solar panels working at maximum capacity. Keep reading to learn more and see lots of photos.
The day started with a informal lunch at the town’s Pizza Ranch at noon. Members of the CERTs tour, as well as members of the day’s previous tours, gathered in the East room. After a quick introduction by Joel Haskard (CERTs Co-Director) and Jeff Vetsch (West Central CERT Coordinator), Brian Ross of C.R. Planning took the stage to explain some of the changes in the recent Minnesota legislation concerning solar. Click here to view the...
07/23/2013 - 11:51am
On those summer days that are particularly hot and sticky, the use of a ceiling fan in conjunction with air conditioning or natural ventilation may be your best choice to cool things down. The wind chill effect that increased air movement creates on skin means that turning on a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your home thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. From a conservation standpoint, it is important to keep in mind that fans should be turned off as you leave the room—fans cool people (through the wind chill effect), not rooms.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that ceiling fans should not be used in rooms any shorter than eight feet high. Also, blades should never come closer than 8 inches from the ceiling and 18 inches from the nearest wall. Ceiling fans are a great choice for the summer months, but will likely not reduce your heating...
07/23/2013 - 11:37am
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently highlighted the continued growth of electric vehicle sales—doubling in the first 6 months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012—as the Energy Department released its most recent pricing data showing the low cost of fueling on electricity. The eGallon, a quick and simple way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles vs. driving on gasoline, rose slightly to $1.18 from $1.14 in the latest monthly numbers, but remains far below the $3.49 cost of a gallon of gasoline.
“More and more Americans are taking advantage of the low and stable price of electricity as a transportation fuel, and that’s very good news for our economy as well as the environment,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the market continues to grow, electric vehicles will play a key role in our effort to reduce air pollution and slow the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/23/2013 - 11:30am
A new report has been published that offers guidance to building officials and solar installers regarding the need for structural review of planned residential solar installations.
The report, issued by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Industry, developed standard load tables that outline limitations for placement of residential rooftop solar electric and solar thermal systems on existing single and multifamily dwellings. The tables encourage safe and structurally reliable systems while reducing costs associated with unnecessary structural review for many residential applications.
The cost to have a structural review of existing conditions for proposed solar installations can be a real barrier to adoption, according to the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
07/23/2013 - 11:05am
Renewable energy will be prominently featured at this year’s Home Energy exhibit at the 2013 Minnesota State Fair, with several displays dedicated to solar and wind energy. The Home Energy exhibit, located in the Eco Experience at the north end of the fairgrounds, is intended to educate fairgoers about a wide range of energy conservation and energy efficiency measures and renewable energy opportunities.
The exhibit’s solar energy area is a partnership with the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and will include four new displays:
A Solar Electricity display that demonstrates the benefits of generating solar energy for electricity and how solar photovoltaic panels provide electricity to your house.
Solar Water Heating display that...