Folks from the Central CERT Region who worked on project ideas

32 Clean Energy Projects emerge from Regional Sessions at CERTs 2013 Conference

Folks who attended the last session of the CERTs 2013 Conference gave themselves a unique challenge.

The Process: Dividing themselves into seven separate rooms according to their region of Minnesota, participants worked together for an intensive hour and a half to identify around five energy efficiency or renewable energy projects in their region that could potentially be implemented by the next CERTs Conference in February 2015.

The Projects: CERTs supports clean energy projects—energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects—that are in the public sphere (not policy). With this in mind, participants came up with a wide range of projects. Some of the ideas were broad and needed additional definition, others were fairly specific. Below are several examples from each region!

What’s Next? CERTs staff, steering committee members, affiliates and team members will follow up with these projects to assist them (when possible) in a myriad of ways, and you can too! We want you! If you see a particular project that you would be interested in assisting in some capacity, please contact Joel Haskard at 612-625-8759; to learn more. We will be building these projects person by person, community by community, and we’d love to channel your interest and support.


Central Region Renewable Energy in Public Spaces:
Install an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station at an area that has a lot of local traffic and tourism. Possible locations would be the Cuyuna Recreational Area Mountain Bike Trailhead Parking, or a public park, parking lot, campground, or the hospital in Crosby. This would both provide practical assistance to EV users, and public education to those who are unfamiliar with the technology. Additionally, a grid tied solar PV system at the EV charging station site, or solar hot water system on the campground showers would be an optional second-tier of this project, continuing the goal of both public education and practical use.

Solar to Boiler:
Research the current design and feasibility of adapting solar hot water vacuum tube collectors to outdoor wood boilers.

Energizing Kids:
Research and compile what new curriculum for Energy Efficiency in schools is available. Design or promote 2-3 projects that would meet Minnesota school standards focusing on renewables in K-12 classrooms.

Heat for Hogs, Heifers & Hens:
Design and install a pilot project for utilizing transpired Solar Air Heat for pre-heating ventilation make-up air for heated livestock housing. This may additionally include the use of a Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRVs) and solar air heat recirculation.


Metro Region Solar Gardens:
Develop and implement community-owned solar PV systems.

Rental Energy Projects:
Empower tenants and incentivize landlords to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at rental properties.

Small Business Energy Campaigns:
Bring together energy-efficiency organizations and business associations to improve energy practices in small business districts.

Energy Behavior Change:
Engage homeowners and businesses in energy conservation through a behavior change program, which may include education, outreach, action, role-modeling and motivation.


Northeast Region Energy Education:
Increase the level of energy/sustainability education in middle school & junior high schools.

Lutsen Ski Hill- Produce Snow Off-Peak:
Work with Lutsen Ski Resort to promote off-peak energy use and to better accommodate alternative (solar/wind) energy sources; research using energy efficiency and water saving measures to create snow during off-peak hours.

Renewable Energy Credit Exchange:
Investigate how to more effectively capture the benefits of small-scale, voluntary Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

IRRRB Business Energy Retrofitting (BER) Program:
Learn more about this innovative program currently being piloted in Hibbing and assist with expansion and promotion of the model to other Iron Range communities if feasible.

Biomass Wood Pellets:
The goals of this project are to: 1. Pilot a project to convert houses from using fossil fuels to wood pellets; 2. Research the feasibility of local wood pellets manufacturing; and 3. Research local pellet delivery.


Northwest Region Solar Transpired Air Heat for the Golden Eagles:
Conduct a feasibility study on the UMN Crookston Campus for solar transpired air systems on campus buildings.

Waste Cooking Oil to Biodiesel:
Research and implement using used cooking oil to produce biodiesel to power diesel engines.

Solar-transpired Air at Bemidji’s Schools:
Research and implement solar-transpired air at Bemidji area schools (university, high school, elementary).

Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting:
Examine LED lights powered by solar energy. Ideally, local manufacturers and distributors would be involved. The project location will be UMN Crookston parking lots and sidewalks. Stakeholders including UMC students, staff and residents will be the target audience.


Southeast Region Community Solar Framework:
Research and establish a community solar framework to implement solar projects across the region.

Youth Sustainability Engagement and Understanding:
Create a highly adaptable, age appropriate, engaging curriculum for anyone working with young people ages K-12 to connect with existing sustainability work and engaging activities in order to build understanding and authentic relationships to sustainability issues.

Small Business and Non-Profit Outreach Around energy efficiency and renewable:
Target three cities in the Southeast and work with local businesses to educate and inform them about money and energy saving programs that they can utilize.

Carleton/Community Connection Around Energy:
Celebrate the clean energy projects that St. Olaf, Carleton, and Northfield communities have already undertaken to potentially strengthen their efforts through facilitation, collaboration and support. One idea is to research the potential of a bulk LED light buy for both the colleges and interested members of Northfield.

Community Energy Services:
Broadening the scope of community energy services in Kasson; potentially focusing on youths and seniors.


Southwest Region PACE – Property Accessed Clean Energy:
Enable financing for business & commercial energy efficiency improvements potentially coupled with renewable energy projects; develop a pilot PACE using grant and loan dollars in the 18 county Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB) area to see if it will work.

Community Solar PV Farm:
Research the cost of developing a community Solar PV Farm. If the project is determined to be financially feasible, then look at developing a project in a community with a municipal utility.

Mobile Renewable Energy:
Research the feasibility and practicality of mobile renewable energy systems. Two systems that were discussed in greater detailed included mobile solar thermal and mobile biomass technologies.

Use CERTs to Connect Education – MNSCUYES Teams:
Connect students and faculty from area high school and college campuses around researching and implementing clean energy projects. The initial project will be to connect to at least one YES! Team in the SW Region to help identify projects that would move energy – energy efficiency forward within their community.

Energy on the Farm:
Beyond generally looking into energy efficiency in the agriculture sector, this group was interested in connecting with the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and drilling down into efficiency coupled with air quality issues; this will be a project in collaboration with The Minnesota Project, a CERT partner organization.


West Central Region Street Lighting Retrofit:
Work with a small community (less than 1,000) to reduce street lighting costs. By changing out metal halide and high pressure sodium street lights to LED fixtures, communities can save energy and money. This project will be used as a demonstration site to gather cost and financing information which can then be shared with other communities.

Brownfield Solar, City of Hutchinson Waste Water Treatment Facility:
Create a model for utilizing brown-field sites for solar PV. Brown fields are limited in their development potential and as such make a good location for solar PV arrays. There are hundreds of brown-field sites in Minnesota that could potentially host solar farms.

Minnesota Street Market Efficiency Upgrades:
Work with the Minnesota Street Market food cooperative in St. Joseph, Minnesota to improve the energy efficiency of their building and operations. The Minnesota Street Market has had an energy audit and is now looking at ways to reduce operating costs in their 100 year old building. If possible, some renewable energy component may also be included.

EV Charging Stations, Morris, MN:
Develop a location on the University of Minnesota Morris Campus (possibly near the welcome center) for an Electric Vehicle Charging station. The charging station would utilize wind energy generated at the WCROC and would be available for students, faculty and guests on campus.

What’s next?

CERTs staff, Steering Committee members, affiliates and team members will follow up with these projects to assist them (when possible) in a myriad of ways, and you can too! We want you! If you see a particular project that you would be interested in assisting in some capacity, please contact Joel Haskard at 612-625-8759; to learn more. We will be building these projects person by person, community by community, and we’d love to channel your interest and support.