A Habitat For Humanity Restore gets... well, restored

April 2023

Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, located in Moorhead, Minnesota, has been a crucial player in creating affordable housing in partnership with families in their area. They built their first home in 1991, and since then have built 72 homes throughout six communities in Cass and Clay counties. Wow!

They were so busy building for others, they didn’t have the time or resources to fix up the building that they officed in.

The Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity ReStore and office was built in 1962 as a neighborhood grocery store. Like many of the items found on their ReStore shelves, the building itself has been repurposed to fit the various functions needed by Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity. Jim Nelson, executive director, tells the rest:

“There are three mechanical units in the building and the largest unit is original, dating back to 1962. This unit heats and cools the majority of the building, roughly 12,000 square feet. Over the past 10 years this unit has failed multiple times regardless of whether it's delivering heat during the cold months or chilled (air) during the hot months.”

It was a costly problem for Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, which was expending between $2,000 and $4,000 a year just to maintain the old heating and cooling unit. The building sees a lot of foot traffic, with staff, partner families who frequent the office, and over 21,000 paying customers who use the ReStore annually.

In late November of 2022 the unit failed, and was no longer operational. Carbon monoxide was detected in the building. A new heating and cooling system was installed, with a CERTs Seed Grant covering some of the labor costs. “It's significantly warmer in the building now and (we) anticipate seeing a significant drop in energy costs,” notes Nelson.

New Bryant furnace unit, northeast view


New Bryant furnace unit - north view_teaser


New Bryant furnace unit - south view

Photos of the new HVAC at Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, courtesy of Jim Nelson.

“The CERTs program has created an educational opportunity for the staff and board of directors to learn more about energy efficient technology and to become more preventative.”

Jim Nelson, executive director

Now that the building is more comfortable, safer, and with reduced heating and cooling costs, Jim Nelson is looking at next steps with his staff. “Discussion has focused on two things: improved system preventative maintenance to maintain equipment and operate it optimally. And  revisit the two smaller HVAC units in the spring/summer to determine lifespan and identify target replacement dates.”

Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity - ReStore HVAC

Clean Energy Focus: Heating and cooling equipment upgrade

Northwest CERT Seed Grant: $5,000

Other Funds Leveraged: Donations from HfH supporters and contractor

Energy Saved Each Year: 7,040 kWh and 1,045 therms

Money Saved Each Year: $2,230

People Involved and Reached: 21,000

Photo by Kaelan Akvik, courtesy of Lake Agassiz Habitat Instagram

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