The City of Biwabik is located in Northeast Minnesota with a population of about 1,000 citizens. As of late, this town has been actively focusing efforts on reducing their electricity usage. They decided to begin with Biwabik City Hall, which had been illuminated with 62 inefficient lights for the past 20 years. A $2,000 Seed Grant from Northeast CERT provided funding for project labor costs.

Biwabik City Hall

In the 2015-2016 school year, 5th grade students at St. Dominic Parish School in Northfield focused their learning on helping the environment. Their mission was to find all the electronic devices in their school and identify the biggest ‘energy hogs.

Austin Utilities is a community-owned, not-for-profit electric, water, and natural gas utility, serving more than 12,000 customers within a community of over 23,000 people in Austin, MN. The utility officially opened its new, energy-efficient 105,000 sq. ft. Service and Operation Center at the end of July. We interviewed General Manager Mark Nibaur to learn more.

The Greenway Office Building—located a block from the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis—epitomizes green buildings both in design and location.

Built in 1999 by the Green Institute (a former CERTs partner organization), the building includes solar PV, geothermal heating and cooling, and a green roof.

Solar array financed with PACE atop the Greenway Office Building in Minneapolis

There are some basic energy-saving steps we can all take to keep the warm air in and our utility bills down this fall and winter. A few simple no-cost or low-cost measures can make a big difference for the safety, comfort and efficiency of our homes.

The Minnesota Commerce Department, which includes the State Energy Office, offers the following tips:

Get an energy audit.

On October 27th, 2016 around 40 people gathered at Woodbury City Hall to learn about community solar gardens and network with experts and developers.

Community Solar Gardens are centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that produce electricity for participating subscribers. They’re great for people that want to go solar but are unable to do so on their own.

Attendees at Woodbury community solar gardens workshop

On September 26, over twenty five people joined the Southeast CERT tour of the City of Red Wing’s clean energy projects.

SE CERT tours Red Wing solar projects, including this carport at City Hall

Nearly 200 people attended the 9th annual Metro CERT event on October 18th at the University of St. Thomas for a two-part afternoon event followed by networking.

An energy-efficient venue: Elise Amel, psychology professor welcomed attendees to the Anderson Student Center, the first LEED certified project on the St. Thomas campus.

Diana McKeown introduces Metro CERT Staff at Annual Event

Eight communities are receiving 2016 Minnesota Clean Energy Community Awards from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The program recognizes communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation.

Clean Energy Community Awards

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has been awarded a $2 million grant that will help realize Minnesota’s goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from the sun by 2030.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is called “Project North Star: Illuminating the Way to PV Integration.

Project North Star in Minnesota receives funding from DOE SunShot Initiative

Bemidji’s AirCorps Aviation specializes in the restoration, maintenance, and rebuilding of vintage WWII aircraft. They’re now working from more comfortable, well-lit, and energy-efficient buildings thanks to lighting and insulation improvements financed with PACE.

Working on a plane in the newly insulated AirCorps Aviation shop

On October, 5th, 2016 GreenStep Cities staff from across Minnesota gathered for the monthly workshop and webinar, this time to learn all about Energy, Data, and Action—Oh My!

About 25 people attended the workshop in total, including those who attended in person and those who watched via webinar.

Minnesota GreenStep Cities

Today, students from Holy Rosary School in Duluth made a positive difference in native northern eastern Minnesota habitats by planting common milkweed, wild bergamot, fragrant giant hyssop and lindleys aster around a new solar PV array at the Laurentian Environmental Learning Center near Mesabi, Minn.

Holy Rosary students from Duluth plant pollinator habitat around solar installation at Laurentian Environmental Learning Center

The Clean Energy Resource Teams is pleased to announce that Brian Bluhm has been hired as our new coordinator working with communities to advance clean energy across Northeastern Minnesota. Welcome, Brian!

Brian is based at the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency. Brian has a B.A. in Anthropology and a M.Ed. in Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Northeast CERT Coordinator Brian Bluhm

The Minnesota State Fair set an attendance record of 1,943,719 this year, and the Eco Experience likely set a record of its own as more than 260,000 passed through its doors.

At the center of the Eco Experience was the Home Energy Exhibit, coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

This year's Energy Home in the Minnesota State Fair Eco Experience building

Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 award program highlights emerging leaders throughout the region and their work in America’s transition to a clean energy economy.

This year’s cohort of Midwest-based leaders and innovators from all sectors—industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy—have just been announced.

Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 award program

The 23rd Annual Lake Superior Harvest Festival took place at Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park on Saturday, September 10th. Nearly 6,000 people attend this popular event to chat with their favorite local farmers, pick up delicious local produce, jams and baked goods, and explore local arts and crafts vendors.

Lake Superior Harvest Festival

I have always wanted a space of my own to work on my varied and numerous projects—everything from painting to furniture restoration to various excuses to use all of my power tools. A need to store work equipment and tools helped push me to action, so three years ago I finished half of my detached two-stall garage in order to create this space.

Solar air heat system on Sarah Hayden Shaw's "Shopfice"

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson asks livestock producers to apply for a portion of $2 million in grants available for on-farm improvements.

“Livestock Investment Grants help farmers stay competitive and reinvest in their industry. Last year, we had 104 livestock farmers receive grants to improve their operation,” said Frederickson.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Metro CERT welcomes Gordy Moore to their crew for the school year!

Gordy will be assisting the Sustainable Communities team at Great Plains Institute (GPI), working most closely with the Metro CERT program in addition to supporting Minnesota GreenStep Cities and the Grow Solar partnership.

Katie Hosch joined the Great Plains Institute in September of 2016 as a Minnesota GreenCorps member for one year of service. Welcome!

Katie will be fulfilling a unique position, working to help cities improve and maintain energy efficiency in public buildings.

Katherine Hosch

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson proclaimed August 26th to be “Solar Storage Awareness Day” in Duluth during the commissioning ceremony of a new solar PV and battery storage system at the Hartley Nature Center. We spoke with Bret Pence, project specialist with Ecolibrium3 and co-leader on the Hartley Nature Center Solar Plus Storage Upgrade project, which can now store 14.2 kWh of energy.

Hartley Nature Center in Duluth renovated its solar energy system and added battery backup

On September 20th, 2016 nearly 40 people gathered at the Shoreview Community Center to learn about community solar gardens and network with experts and developers.

Community Solar Gardens are centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that produce electricity for participating subscribers. They’re great for people that want to go solar but are unable to do so on their own.

Trevor Drake, Metro CERT Co-Director, speaks with event attendees

Bemidji State University was a hotbed of clean energy activity on August 31st as folks gathered for two consecutive events.

First up was the Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) meeting, where over 40 attendees gathered to learn about clean energy projects in Bemidji.

First they heard about the City of Bemidji’s $2.

Kicking the tires on electric vehicle charging stations in Bemidji, MN

As another Minnesota winter approaches, homeowners may be looking to replace an old, worn-out or inefficient heating system with a new high-efficiency model.

Most furnaces have a useful life of 15-20 years, while most boilers will last 20-30 years.

If your furnace looks like this it may be time for an upgrade