The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and our partner, the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) at University of Minnesota Extension, are delighted to welcome Marie Donahue to our team as our new Sustainability Storyteller. Marie will develop stories that highlight the champions and projects inspiring sustainability and clean energy action across Minnesota, and support a variety of RSDP and CERTs communications efforts.

Marie Donahue

Every year the Environmental Initiative Awards celebrate the people and projects working in partnership at the nexus of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy, and an equitable society. The 2020 recipients were announced today, and the Clean Energy Resource Teams and our many partners are honored to receive both of the awards in the Energy and Climate category for the Solar Possible and Cities Charging Ahead! efforts!

site assessment

Is your local government or organization curious about how to increase your sustainable spend using state contracts? The State of Minnesota has new resources for you to check out! Guidance has been designed to help cities, counties, townships, and nonprofits (among others) increase the sustainability of their purchases and work toward sustainable spending goals.

green bag

We have never experienced a situation like this. Since CERTs began in 2003 we have always been about forging relationships as an essential pathway to advancing community-based clean energy. It would be naive of us not to recognize that in many ways, this forging relationships part is looking a little more complicated this week. I am at my kitchen counter writing this, and I imagine many of you will be reading this from home. I say all of this because we recognize that perhaps working on a clean energy project is simply not at the top of your to-do list right now, and we get it. The most important thing right now is to take care of yourself, your families, loved ones, friends, and neighbors following guidance from the CDC. And, with this awareness front and center, we want you to know we're still here to help you when the time is right.

Lissa Pawlisch

Rochester, MN has kicked off its 2nd year of participation in the Minnesota Efficient Buildings Collaborative and is hoping to add 20 new buildings to the Sustainable Rochester Building Energy Benchmarking program for 2020. During 2019, 90 buildings, mostly public participated. Energy and water consumption for these buildings was tracked and compared to the national average of buildings with the same type of use. The 2019 buildings represent 11% of Rochester’s total energy use, and 5.6% of the city’s Green House Gas Emissions.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton

Nearly fifty people attended the event in Hackensack, which featured a film screening and presentations on local clean energy projects, as well as community conversation and a tour of Deep Portage Learning Center’s clean energy installations. The Power of Minnesota, a short documentary exploring how Minnesotans are building a clean energy economy that powers our communities and our state, was the first feature on the agenda.

solar and snow

The State of Minnesota announced an open request for proposals (RFP) for a statewide, on-site solar PV master contract. All qualified solar developers are invited to submit proposals. This is a design-build contract program available for use by all Minnesota State agencies, local governments, schools, and more. The deadline for responses is March 27, 2020 at 3:00pm. We talked to Jordan Wente, Research Analysis Specialist with the State of Minnesota's Office of Enterprise Sustainability, to learn more about the opportunity. 

solar pv

We're already diving into 2020 with a splash, but we thought it would be nice to reflect on 2019 and the ways CERTs was able to help Minnesotans build clean energy in 2019. Here goes!

EVs at Farmfest

The Northwest Clean Energy Resource Team (NW CERT) and University of Minnesota Extension Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Northwest RSDP) are pleased to welcome longtime community leader Shannon Stassen as the new Program Associate for clean energy and resilient communities. In his new role, Stassen will work with local governments, nonprofits, foundations, and partners across Northwest Minnesota to connect local sustainability projects to research, education and resources at the University of Minnesota.

Shannon Stassen

It is an energizing start to 2020 for communities across Minnesota. The state’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) are awarding Seed Grants to 35 innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities from Slayton to Grand Marais, Crookston to La Crescent, Little Falls to Minneapolis. The 35 projects received funding across a broad spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Many projects also include components of education, outreach, community building, and research. These awards mark the tenth round of Seed Grants from the group, totaling over $1.3 million to 393 projects since 2006.

seed grants

Dozens of community members came together at the Willmar Public Library on Saturday, December 7, 2019 to see a new clean energy documentary, hear from local speakers, and discuss ways to save energy and money.

Attendees chatting

Just as the Midwest has seen increases in on-site solar rooftop development, there’s been talk for several years about emerging solar technology as people become increasingly familiar with seeing roof-mount solar photovoltaic (PV). New on the horizon, through energy innovations from household names like Tesla and MIT, are things like Solar Skins and solar shingles, which are being included in conversations about the future of solar.

solar shingles

On October 10, over 90 people gathered for the 12th Annual Metro CERT Annual Event at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. The event included a keynote presentation from the City of Maplewood about their Re-Energize Maplewood Seed Grant, a panel of cities from the Cities Charging Ahead! electric vehicle (EV) cohort, a look at Minneapolis’ Green Cost Share program, and a glance at what’s on the horizon for Metro CERT. And of course, there was delicious food from Sonora Grill and lots of networking!

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board have opened a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a study exploring "Solar Panels on Closed Landfills." The RFP closes on November 26th at 2:00pm, so please spread the word to qualified applicants!


So you've been thinking about benchmarking your buildings, but you're not sure where to start, what information you need to collect, how long it'll REALLY take, and...what’s the point? Oh and what is B3 Benchmarking anyway? Well, you’re in luck! CERTs folks dug into B3 Benchmarking and offer a few considerations and resources for cities, counties, and schools wanting to tackle the energy management items on their to do list.

electric meters

October is Energy Awareness Month! It's a great time to consider the ways that you can move forward with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, many of which can be supported by your electric utility. Xcel Energy shared some ideas to help you save energy and money.

wind energy

It seems like electric vehicles are all over the news these days, and there are lots of resources and tools for organizations looking to move forward with vehicles or charging infrastructure. This post features recent updates about expanding options in Minnesota, open grant opportunities, and resources and tools from the Cities Charging Ahead! cohort that can help all public entities advance.

ev ribbon cutting

More than 70 people in the Fergus Falls area gathered on Tuesday, October 8th in the evening to watch a new documentary called “The Power of Minnesota” that tells the story of how clean energy is making local economies throughout our region even stronger. More than just a film screening, attendees found energy-saving actions they could take, learned more about the Fergus Falls area's clean energy developments, and joined a community conversation!

speakers on stage

On Monday, October 7th, an inquisitive group gathered to learn more about the newly installed solar array in St. Charles, Minnesota. This 2 MW project is part of the 'Butter Solar' Portfolio solar development, owned and operated by BluEarth Renewables US and totaling 23 MWAC across 10 communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The event was hosted by Nick Koverman of the City of St. Charles along with project leads Eric Udelhofen of OneEnergy Renewables, Stanley Minnick of Organic Valley, and Chris Barnes of BluEarth Renewables.

butter solar

Phoebe Ward is a Minnesota GreenCorps Member who recently joined the statewide CERTs office in Saint Paul for her 11-month service term. Phoebe has a bachelor's degree in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota, and a master's degree in Environmental Conservation from the University of Wisconsin. Among other important work, Phoebe will be helping cities, counties, tribal nations, and schools identify and implement clean energy projects and share their stories. Welcome Phoebe!

Phoebe Ward

Jack Acomb joined the GPI team in early September as a program assistant intern with the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (Metro CERT). In this position, Jack will work to support the Metro CERT’s 2020 seed grant selection process, as well as assisting with programs related to electric vehicle adoption and other clean energy initiatives.

Jack Acomb

267,893 people visited the Eco Experience at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair, and many of them had the opportunity to learn about the growing role of clean energy in our communities! CERTs staff talked to curious fairgoers all twelve days, sharing ideas about moving forward with energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and careers in the industry. We also hosted students fired up about solar on Fox 9 and KARE 11. The display was produced in partnership with The Power of Minnesota. Explore more from the great clean energy get together below!

growing clean energy display

Each year the Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) awards at least one Program or Project of the Year. The SRDC Awards Committee met to discuss potential projects and recommended the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) for its continuous effort toward helping Minnesotans build and apply clean energy practices across the state.

CERTs awarded 2019 Program of the Year Award from Southwest Regional Development Commission

The Minnesota Metro Environment Commission Conference was held in Minneapolis on April 13th at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. The overall purpose of the event was to enable participants to meet, get to know each other, and learn from each other’s experience as members of commissions focused on environmental issues. Last year, only commission members from the metro area were invited. This year the event was expanded to Greater Minnesota commissions and included afternoon panels.

full room

Over 80 people attended “Pathways to Electric Vehicle (EV) Adoption” in Moorhead, MN on Wednesday, May 15th. The speakers and attendees gathered at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel were a mix of electric utility representatives, governmental staff and elected officials from the state, county and city level, businesses and economic development organizations, fleet managers, university educators and students, and EV owners and sustainability advocates.


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