03/04/2013 - 3:22pm
Elk River was named Energy City in 1997 when the Minnesota Environmental Initiative chose it from over 30 other communities to act as a geographical focal point for the demonstration of efficient and renewable energy products, services, and technologies. Given this status, the city is continuously striving to act as a model for energy efficiency and create new and challenging energy saving goals.
The city’s Project Conserve program demonstrates Elk River’s commitment to this endeavor. Project Conserve is an outreach and education program that encourages participants to save money by conserving energy and making other lifestyle changes that lessen their environmental impacts. This unique program was supported by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), which Elk River received in 2009 through the U.S. Department of Energy as a part of the American Recovery and...
03/04/2013 - 3:12pm
The City Hall in Hopkins, Minnesota is a busy place—it houses Community Services, Planning and Economic Development, Engineering, Finance, and after a 20,000 square foot renovation in 2006, the Police Department. With so many important city functions under one roof, it’s a priority to keep the building operating smoothly, especially in a region known for temperature extremes. Luckily, Norb Kerber, the City’s Building Equipment Superintendent, and other city staff have this building’s energy use under control.
Since 2006, they’ve been using Minnesota’s B3 Benchmarking program, a web-based application that ranks an entity’s buildings according to energy performance. The program relies on a variety of information, including utility billing data, building type, hours of operation, square footage, and...
03/04/2013 - 3:05pm
Linden Hills Power and Light has quite the green report card. Originally created with the goal of shrinking the community’s local carbon footprint, Linden Hills Power and Light (LHP&L) has utilized education efforts, community engagement and organizing to promote sustainable habits and energy conservation.
LHP&L works on a number of projects ranging from a curbside composting program to energy efficiency services. The 2010-2011 City of Minneapolis Climate Change Innovation Grant enabled the group to turn its efforts towards increasing mass transit use in the Linden Hills neighborhood.
For over four years, the City of Minneapolis has worked with residents, nonprofits, community organizations, schools and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level with the Climate Change Innovation Grants. The 2010-2011 grant funding came from Minneapolis’ Energy...
03/04/2013 - 3:00pm
As Minnesota cities face tighter budgets, the need for money-saving innovations without cutting services, grows rapidly. One place to find savings is through sustainability, which is where a state program aimed at a number of factors—from improving energy-efficient public buildings to innovative waste-collection systems—is helping. Introducing: Minnesota GreenStep Cities.
In 2008, the legislature tasked the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams—a group focused on community-based clean energy—with developing a proposal for expanding the state’s “Green Star” award program from individual facilities to entire municipalities. The result was Minnesota GreenStep Cities, a voluntary program for cities to measure and track sustainability progress.
03/04/2013 - 2:43pm
The City of Oakdale (Metro CERT affiliate since 2008) is a regional leader in civic sustainability thanks to the leadership of its City Council and Environmental Management Commission (EMC). In 2008, the EMC took the first step by committing to quantify the city’s carbon footprint and use that information to seek opportunities for emissions reductions.
To help meet this goal Oakdale joined the ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. ICLEI is an international association of local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development.
In joining the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, the City of Oakdale pledged to undertake five milestones:
Conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast of the city.
Establish a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.
Develop an action plan with both...
03/04/2013 - 2:35pm
In 2009, the Center for Energy and the Environment (CEE) received a grant from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to run a comprehensive neighborhood-based energy efficiency program in eight cities across Minnesota. They contracted with the Metro Clean Energy Resource Teams (Metro CERT) to partner with the Neighborhood Energy Connection (the NEC) to implement the program in the City of Saint Paul. Metro CERT’s role was to recruit participants through community organizing and hold neighborhood workshops to educate residents about energy-saving measures and sign them up for a home visit.
This program was designed to combat the two key shortcoming of existing energy efficiency programming. They are: (1) the low level of implementation of energy-saving actions (found in both residential audits and strictly educational programs) and (2) the low number of...
03/04/2013 - 12:42pm
The City of Chisholm’s 100-year-old City Hall Complex was in need of efficiency upgrades. Heat was not being dispersed evenly or efficiently throughout the building and lights were out-of-date and inefficient. Mark Casey, City Administrator in Chisholm, and Steve Erickson, the staff leader for Buildings, Web and Safety, coordinated an integrated plan for improving the use of community energy dollars invested in city buildings.
Casey commented: “At one point, I realized that we did not have the money for this project, but we could not afford to not add this efficiency.” That kind of thinking is what led the Chisholm team to seek out resources to implement new technology.
The City of Chisholm was awarded two grants for energy improvements via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009: one from the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program and the...
03/04/2013 - 11:00am
Kandiyohi County Recycling Center in Willmar, Minn. has reduced its energy load by 10,000 Watts due to replacing its high-pressure sodium lights with energy-saving LED lights. The cost of replacing the bulbs totaled $22,000—which will be paid back with decreased energy usage in about five and a half years. Accompanying the decreasing energy usage, the new LED bulbs also have a longer lifespan, brighter light, and reach full brightness the instant they are turned on.
Supporting the recycling center in its efforts was the Willmar Municipal Utilities. WMU awarded the recycling center a $3,000 rebate to supplement funding for the new lights. Although the recycling center is the first LED rebate project for WMU, it is not its first energy-saving lighting project in general; last year, WMU’s rebates totaled $65,000. Dave Opsahl, WMU...
02/28/2013 - 5:10pm
Two northern Minnesota cities—Grand Marais and Ely—are looking to change the way they heat their homes and buildings. “We’ve got biomass coming out of our ears,” said Dave Olsen, a member of the Ely Alternative Energy Task Force; and it is with this biomass that the two communities would switch from fuel oil or propane to wood-burning district heating systems. Although the project is only in its planning stages, there is much excitement about the multi-faceted switch benefits.
One such benefit is a reduced forest fire risk. The local Grand Marais forest fire safety campaign, Firewise, asks homeowners to clear forest brush as a way to protect their homes from any potential fires. These efforts result in large piles of sticks and leaves at designated drop-off gravel pits. It was the destroying of these piles (through burning on low fire risk days...
02/28/2013 - 2:40pm
Metro CERT is happy to welcome Kelly Changalov on board as our new Intern. Kelly was a huge help at the CERTs 2013 Conference, chaperoning the charter bus on February 21st, and in the future will be helping with the Metro Affiliate Program, Splash Campaign, and events.
Kelly is excited to join CERTs after graduating from Northeastern Illinois University in 2011, where she earned a BA of Environmental Studies. Immediately after graduation, she permanently relocated to Minnesota with her husband. Facing some initial difficulty in pursuing environmentally related work, she worked outside of the environmental field for a year, but quickly realized that her path to professional fulfillment lies within an environmental career. She is delighted to be interning with the Metro CERT team and hopes to gain experience and insight that will help start her career. Her areas of interest include...