Southeat Minnesota

Resident-Owned Communities provide a window into energy savings

June 2023

As you may know, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) have been doing A LOT of work with manufactured home parks across Minnesota (we plan to work with 10+ parks and 1000 units in 2023 alone!)

Some of the easiest parks to work with are Resident-Owned Communities (or ROCs). In these communities the residents have banded together to buy/own the land beneath their trailer homes and make decisions collectively. Minnesota is lucky to have several of these parks, and seemingly more organize every year. We’re proud to support this crucial source of naturally occurring affordable housing. It turns out that we can do that by helping residents reduce energy costs and making their homes safer and more comfortable. 

Hillcrest upgrades


One place this is happening is in Freeborn County in southeast Minnesota. Here, CERTs worked with Tricia Lau and her neighbors at Hillcrest Community Cooperative near Clarks Grove to provide energy conservation kits. Tricia then applied for a CERTs Seed Grant to fund labor costs in fixing the bane of folks living through Minnesota winters: leaky windows.

Since the park is cooperatively owned, residents have a vested interest in keeping shared energy costs down. That includes the building that holds the office and several connected apartments.

"By replacing the existing single pane windows to double pane thermo windows, we are now able to provide safe and energy efficient living to our low-income tenants in our apartments. It is also a direct investment in our tenants' safety by allowing them to have functional, easy to use, energy efficient windows that keeps the air flow and moisture out. By upgrading to all new, we don't have to worry about tenants struggling with lifting windows. Plus, costs will be low which helps keep rent low.”


- Tricia Lau, Hillcrest Community Cooperative

Hillcrest had to wait seven months for the 11 thermo double pane vinyl windows to arrive, which means they were replaced and installed in the winter. This made the project more difficult than anticipated, but didn’t discourage the community from looking ahead toward more projects. Future plans include installing new siding on the office building, as well as redoing the park's sidewalks.

Hillcrest upgrades

Ms. Lau continues to look for resources for the park to save energy costs and feels there’s plenty of opportunities to look forward to. “I recommend others research to see if there's assistance out there because there are many programs and grants available right now.”


Clean Energy Focus: Window replacement from single to double pane

Southeast CERT Seed Grant: $5,000

Other Funds Leveraged: State of Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

Energy Saved Each Year: 6,900,000 BTUs**

Money Saved Each Year: $60**

People Involved and Reached: 184

**Energy savings from window replacements is modest. The biggest benefit from new windows is improved comfort for occupants.

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