West Central Blog Posts
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Thu, 06/06/2013 - 11:27am
Are you interested in doing your own solar project? Let the Clean Energy Project Builder and CERTs help you get started with 4 steps! Step 1: Do your research! Knowing information about solar (what it is, how it works, how to get it) is a key component in your project’s success. Lucky for you, we have already done the hard part! Follow the link to see a list of helpful solar studies. Step 2: Site assessment. It is important to be familiar with both the purpose of your solar project, and site specific details before moving into the implementation and financing of a project. Here you will find some tools to help assess your site in order to understand its unique potential in conjunction with your...
Mon, 06/03/2013 - 10:18am
Story by Starrla Cray, Farm Horizons. Heading into Lester Prairie from the north, one is likely to see Jerry Stibal’s new set of solar panels just off Babcock Avenue. “Last year, with fuel prices so high, I decided it was time to do something different,” Stibal said. Construction for the panels started the beginning of November, and they were ready to go about three weeks later. “It didn’t take long,” Stibal said. “It helped that we had good weather.” Stibal anticipates a quick payback period for his investment – 4.8 years. “We based everything off last year’s prices,” he said, explaining that the actual payback time will depend on future energy prices. “It also depends on the year; if you get all cloudy days, it’ll output less,” he added. Stibal began researching alternative energy sources years ago. “At first, I was attracted to the windmills,” he said. “But after...
Sun, 06/02/2013 - 2:47pm
Recently, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Sports Greening Project ranked the top 7 energy-efficient baseball stadiums in the MLB. Our hometown hero, the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field, came in second place with the Miami Marlins’ Marlins Park snatching the first place position. Among other strong points, Target Field is the only ballpark with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications in both construction and operations. Upgrades made in 2011 to equipment, lighting and HVAC systems reduced electricity use by more than 12 percent. Other energy efficient features include low-flow urinals, dual-flush toilets, aerated faucets, a rain recycle system that saves water, high-efficiency lighting, and a range of energy-conservation behaviors. A slightly less obvious way that Target Field is energy efficient is its prime location. The stadium is a...
Fri, 05/31/2013 - 10:42am
Do It Green! Minnesota is an all volunteer, non-profit organization with a mission to educate and motivate Minnesotans to live sustainably and to build healthy communities. They achieve this through publishing a comprehensive web site, printed green living guidebook called Do It Green! Magazine, green business directory called Do It Green! Directory, hands-on workshops, their annual Green Gifts Fair and Earth Day Celebration events, and offering a public Resource Center inside the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. The organization is currently looking to fill four positions. The positions require a minimum commitment of one year, are unpaid positions (unless noted), and are available on a flexible schedule. Do It Green! positions require a commitment and genuine interest in sustainable living and in turn provide a complete hands-on experience. Positions available are:...
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 10:59am
Some of Minnesota’s middle school students are getting involved with the clean energy movement! The Clean Air & Biodiesel Lesson & Poster Contest, Sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, was administered by the American Lung Association recently across the state of Minnesota. The contest was open to all 5th and 6th grade classes. The aim of the contest was to have creative students help demonstrate how biodiesel helps protect clean air and our health. Representatives from the American Lung Association in Minnesota presented the students with their awards at the school on May 29th. Schools with winning classrooms were from Northeast Middle School in Minneapolis and Sky Oak Elementary in Burnsville. The first place class prize was a $50 gift card. Second place class prize was a $25 gift card. All three classrooms that participated received a $50...
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 12:37pm
On some level, everyone is connected to agriculture. That simple fact is at the heart of KSMQ’s local series, Farm Connections, now in its fifth season. Joel Haskard and Fritz Ebinger with the Clean Energy Resource Teams joined Farm Connections host Dan Hoffman and other guests to highlight energy efficiency innovations and opportunities on Minnesota farms. The episode begins on the Northfield, MN farm of John Zimmerman and his family. The Zimmermans primarily raise turkeys, and John is the president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. John, Dan, and Joel discuss energy-saving steps that have been taken on the Zimmerman farm and how those changes are helping to reduce the impact of energy costs on their bottom line. After that, Shannon Jerabek with McLeod Cooperative Power...
Tue, 05/28/2013 - 3:13pm
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge is helping university campuses across the nation to become more energy and resource-efficient. The program works with universities to set aside money for a Green Revolving Fund. Student leaders from the university will then submit project proposals to help improve the campus in a green way. The main idea of the program is that the projects will create savings for the university that will then be put back into the fund for more projects in the future. In a webinar hosted by The Billion Dollar Green Challenge and Focus the Nation, Emily Flynn, Manager of Special Projects at Sustainable Endowment Institute displayed the below image to demonstrate the concept: Flynn went on to explain the benefits of revolving funds in terms...
Tue, 05/28/2013 - 1:54pm
Building recommissioning projects are intensive in nature, aiming to focus efficiency efforts on the entirety of a building with the goal of significantly reducing its energy load, energy costs, and its need for maintenance procedures, while increasing the comfort of the facility, its efficiency, and sometimes even its usability. Building recommissioning studies are often needed to ensure that energy systems are in good working order after a building has been in use for several years. Over time systems tend to work more inefficiently due to deferred maintenance. Recommissioning studies seek to restore the most efficient operating performance of the building, identifying low- and no-cost measures to remedy these deficiencies. Steps taken during a recommissioning study include the following: Measure systems’ performance and verify that they are in good working order. Identify...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 05/10/2013 - 11:47am
Short-term green energy training model shows great promise: A short-term green energy training program in northeastern Minnesota generated full-time, living wage jobs for seven grateful participants. But the program’s impact can be measured not only in job creation, but in the benefits to those who did not immediately secure employment. The Sustainable Employment through Training & Trade (SETT) Program, known as “Get SETT,” was a unique first-time effort to serve 30 unemployed or under employed individuals and help each of them secure lasting employment. The program, made possible by a grant to the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) in Virginia, Minn., offered a holistic approach to developing an individual’s potential. Each client worked closely with a case manager or job developer to access supportive pre-training services, green energy training, paid internships, job-...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Wed, 05/08/2013 - 10:37am
The following is a sample of new energy-related funding opportunities being promoted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. RFP for Conservation Applied Research and Development Grant Program – Seeks proposals from organizations or individuals interested in applied research and development projects that serve to accelerate the development and adoption of new energy efficient technologies and strategies in Minnesota. The information obtained from this effort is intended to inform electric and natural gas utility Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) development and state energy policy. Eligibility: Individuals, public or private entities actively involved in electricity and natural gas efficiency program implementation or research and development Topic: Conservation...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 05/07/2013 - 1:58pm
Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) enables extensive energy upgrade: When Chisago City purchased 70 acres of beautiful lakefront property just south of town in 2006, the acquisition presented a great opportunity. Not only did it allow Chisago City to establish Ojiketa Regional Park, it offered the chance to provide a community center long desired by the town. Strom Hall, the largest building on the property, was pegged as the future Strom Hall Community Center. It was a structurally sound, handsome 7,000-square-foot building built in the 1960s; it served for years as the main lodge of Campfire USA’s Camp Ojiketa before being sold. But Strom Hall had all the original windows, doors, furnaces, hot water heaters and appliances, so it needed refurbishing in order to comfortably and efficiently host events year-round. It was not sustainable unless extensive energy upgrades...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 05/06/2013 - 11:16am
State ARRA-funded C&I grant helps fund building retrofit: St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood is constantly seeking ways to improve its infrastructure in the most cost-effective ways. And when the stimulus-funded Commercial and Industrial Grant Program from the Minnesota Department of Commerce came along, it made energy efficiency easy. St. John’s Hospital received a $300,000 grant for a $1 million building automation system upgrade and retro-commissioning project that covered all facility air handling units and heating and cooling systems. The grant, combined with other energy improvements financed by the St. Paul Port Authority and the Trillion Btu Program, will save St. John’s about $200,000 per year in energy costs. Simple payback for the $1 million project is about five years. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our infrastructure—to improve clinical quality, increase...
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:41am
Minnesota’s climate is anything but mild—from toasty hot summers to bitterly cold winters. To help save on your home’s energy and water use, follow these landscaping tips: If your house struggles to keep cool in the summer: Plant bushes or trees along the South wall. By blocking the suns rays for most of the day you will stop any excessive heating. However, keep in mind these same bushes will also block the sun in the wintery months. For a less extreme option, consider planting vines along the South wall. If your house struggles to stay warm in the winter: Creating a natural wind block may be the way to go. Planting bushes, shrubs, or trees on the North/Northwest perimeter of your house or lot will help reduce the same windchill effect that happens on exposed skin from happening to your house. Dense evergreen trees and bushes are an...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:20am
Do you know an emerging clean energy company that could use some help to achieve commercial success? The experience and training available through the collaborative efforts of the Minnesota Cup and Cleantech Open programs may give them the advantage they need to succeed. The Minnesota Cup and Midwest Cleantech Open have signed a cooperative agreement so that entrepreneurs participating in Minnesota Cup now have access to certain benefits of the Cleantech Open program. Entrepreneurs working with one can better benefit from both. The Minnesota Cup and Midwest Cleantech Open are now accepting applications from entrepreneurs seeking to transform their vision into a commercial success. Minnesota entrepreneurs seeking help to commercialize their idea have until May 17 to apply to Minnesota Cup. Minnesota Cup is free to enter and invites entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses...
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 10:11am
Solar, wind, and geothermal are great—but using less energy from the start is a fantastic way to save energy. Efficiency (from household appliances to commercial HVAC systems) involves making as little energy as possible do as much as possible. Want to know how Minnesota is doing with efficiency? Take a gander at a new infographic from the Center for Energy and Environment below. You can click here to view the original post from CEE.
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 9:43am
Twelve Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grants have been awarded by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) from last year’s request for proposals (RFP). Over $2.3 million in grants were awarded in three different funding topics identified in the RFP: Field Testing of New Technologies; Testing or Demonstration of Innovative Program Implementation Strategies; White Papers Addressing Specific Problems, Underutilized Opportunities or Potential for Pioneering Technologies or Concepts. Grant projects were chosen from among 64 proposals submitted by the May 7, 2012 deadline. Subjects for the grants are varied and range from a project that will analyze Minnesota’s current net metering rules and standby rates in relation to CHP opportunities, to a project which will deploy and field test an advanced heat recovery system for large...
Mon, 04/22/2013 - 11:28am
The US Department of Agriculture announced their Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant application recently. These grants can pay for up to 25% of the eligible costs of a renewable energy project. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of funding and implement your renewable energy and/or energy efficiency projects in the Minnesota. The deadline is now May 31, 2013. What’s available? USDA Rural Development has recently been made aware of access to additional funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) which will increase the 2013 funding from approximately $20 million to $60 million. What are the deadlines? The application deadline for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Improvement (REEI) and Feasibility Study grants has been extended from April 30, 2013 to May 31, 2013 to facilitate the spending of these additional funds. The application...
Thu, 04/18/2013 - 4:14pm
From Earth Day 2012 to Earth Day 2013, two Minnesota families and hundreds of their teammates have been competing in the Family Energy FACE-OFF to see who can save more energy. This community-based energy competition was launched in a partnership between the Minnesota-based, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and the University of Minnesota Morris, Office of Sustainability. The two teams are the Mill Pond Minimizers, led by Jeff Vetsch, Anne Dybsetter, and their children Henry (age 5) and Hazel (2) from New London, MN; and the Prairie Penny Pinchers, led by Troy, Jenn, and Ely (4) Goodnough from Morris, MN. The families are pitted against each other, taking actions to conserve energy and resources in their homes, and extending the competition to their communities and networks. Participants from across the country choose a family they want to join and then check off actions they...
Tue, 04/16/2013 - 1:00pm
The Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League awards a scholarship of up to $1,000 per year to assist students who enter or continue in an education program in Environmental Education, Environmental Law, Wildlife Management or some program whose primary focus is conservation of resources or environmental science. Qualifications: Applicant must be a Minnesota resident. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen. Applicant must be at least in his/her second year of college. Applicant must show a need for financial assistance and list other financial aid that he/she is receiving for the up coming school year. Scholarship may b used for tuition, books and transportation to the school or program. Requirements: Completed application and transcript of previous year. Written essay (limit to one typed page) on his/her philosophy of conservation and what the future holds for him...
Tue, 04/16/2013 - 10:18am
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now accepting applications from organizations interested in participating as a host site for the 2013-14 year of the Minnesota GreenCorps progam and up to 28 full time members with various host sites. Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally-focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA, which places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues, while gaining experience and learning valuable job skills. Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00 pm on Monday May 6, 2013. Eligible organizations include public entities (local, regional, state, tribal), school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501 ( c )(3) nonprofit organizations. Organizations may apply for...