Green Buildings Blog Posts


Photos from the 2018 CERTs Conference
Lissa Pawlisch
Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:54pm
Over 500 Minnesotans attended the seventh statewide CERTs Conference, connecting to build a clean energy future in their communities! March 28-29 were two truly energizing days in St. Cloud, MN for the 2018 CERTs Conference. Communities, organizations, and individuals showed up to figure out how they can get projects done, save money, and be part of Minnesota’s fastest growing jobs sector. See photos from the event:   Conference presentations available for download   The 2018 CERTs Conference featured 80 speakers who shared their experience and expertise. Their presentations are now available so you can see what you...
Seven communities won 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 04/03/2018 - 2:15pm
Seven Minnesota communities are recipients of the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The awards were presented March 28, 2018 at the CERTs Community Driven Clean Energy Conference in St. Cloud. This year’s awards honor community-organized clean energy initiatives in the Town of Crystal Bay, City of Edina, Hennepin County, Minnesota State University Mankato, City of Red Wing, City of Warren, and Sustain Winona. These communities are contributing to the state’s clean energy goals with programs, policies and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation. “Minnesota has ambitious clean energy goals and the objective of our Clean Energy Community Awards is to acknowledge the great work of...
Rochester Recreation Center received massive energy upgrades
Peter Lindstrom
Wed, 03/07/2018 - 2:55pm
Aging buildings often use a lot of unnecessary electricity, and two key facilities in Rochester—Rochester Recreation Center and Mayo Civic Center—had many opportunities for energy savings. This case study highlights improvements at both centers that have increased efficiency and will extend the life of these important community hubs. Two Centers in Need of Upgrades: The Rochester Recreation Center, constructed in 1974, contains two ice arenas, a gymnasium, a pool, offices and locker rooms and is home to several hockey programs, a figure skating club, and a swim club. The facility had an aging ice plant refrigeration system, needed mechanical improvements to address occupant comfort and dehumidification concerns, outdated lighting, and was using multiple systems to control the equipment. At 115,000 square feet, it was an energy hog. Across town, the Mayo Civic Center had recently...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Thu, 02/01/2018 - 4:55pm
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce 39 Seed Grant awards to organizations in our seven regions! Each region awarded around $20,000, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state. CERTs has awarded more than $1 million to over 300 projects since 2006. Continue reading to explore a map of projects and see details about each of the grants. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs Seed Grants page. Download a PDF with all projects   |   Download a Press Release   |   Share on Facebook and Twitter...
UMN’s new Main Energy Plant helps reduce campus emissions by 50 percent
Joel Haskard
Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:41pm
“We’ve pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from operations to zero as fast as possible,” said Shane Stennes, the university’s sustainability director. The University has been exploring renewable energy opportunities to meet their goals. In its 2011 Climate Action Plan, the University set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2020 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The University of Minnesota is taking a comprehensive approach to meeting their goals with renewable energy. In a recent presentation, Shane Stennes talked about community solar, on-site solar (details below), Renewable*Connect from Xcel Energy,...
La Crescent receives their GreenStep City sign from EQB staffer Kristin Mroz
Chris Meyer
Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:55am
It’s been just over two years since La Crescent, MN (population 5,200) became a Minnesota GreenStep City in October 2015, but they have big achievements to share. In June of 2017 they advanced to a Step 2 city and City Administrator Bill Waller indicated that they are on track to achieve Step 3 in 2018. They were also one of three finalists in the top three Best of B3 Benchmarking competition for the state, being narrowly beaten out by the larger Prior Lake. Laying the groundwork for success   Waller talked about the opportunities and subsequent energy savings that building energy benchmarking has opened up to the city. After joining the voluntary statewide recognition GreenStep City program, La Crescent partnered with Winona State University to create an internship. It was with the help of the WSU Student Intern, Alison Bettin, that La...
Award recipients from the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:46pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has announced the opening of the application process for the 2018 Clean Energy Community Awards (CECA) to recognize the good work of Minnesota communities in helping achieve the state’s clean energy goals. Commerce is the sponsor and coordinator of the program, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy. Applications and award information are available, and applications will be accepted until February 12, 2018. The awards will recognize communities that implement planning, programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation and will be given in two categories, Achievement and Planning. This is the second year the awards have been given, and you can...
Fond du Lac clean energy tour
Brian Bluhm
Wed, 09/20/2017 - 4:02pm
On August 9, 2017 NE CERT and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa co-hosted a clean energy tour of both Fond du Lac Band’s Resource Management Division building as well as Black Bear Casino Resort. The tour included a 1MW solar PV installation, LED lighting, a wood pellet biomass system and other clean energy technologies. Joel Haskard, Co-Director for CERTs, noted that the resource management division building was a good example of what can be done to increase sustainability and clean energy. “This building is LEED certified. Here you can see the green roof, the 12KW solar system, solar tubes for lighting, LED lighting, and even motion sensors to power down the vending machines… They also used super-insulated spray foam for the walls and a storm water drainage system that feeds into a small wetlands in back. Impressive stuff!” Bruno Zagar, Environmental Specialist and...
In 2016 there were 57,351 clean energy jobs in MN
Dan Thiede
Thu, 09/07/2017 - 2:49pm
Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) today released a new report called Clean Jobs Midwest from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs that finds that Minnesota now has 57,351 total clean energy jobs. In the last 12 months, Minnesota’s clean energy industry grew by 5.3 percent, adding 2,893 jobs—3.8 times faster than overall job growth in the state. Despite the rapid growth that has already occurred, clean energy technology continues to present a significant opportunity for business and job growth. “This report tells the story of how Minnesota’s rapid transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy is driving job creation all across our state,” said Gregg Mast, executive director of...
Speakers Morgan and Olya from CCLEP efficiency event
Marcell Mikkelson
Mon, 06/19/2017 - 4:36pm
Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) is a community organization located in Grand Marais with a goal to educate people of all ages about energy efficiency and renewable energy. With help from Northeast CERT, CCLEP was able to host a series of events called Energy Efficiency Evenings aimed at educating people about ways to reduce energy consumption at home, and even think about their renewable energy options. There were four events in the Energy Efficiency Evenings series, all with different topics: The first event was a screening of Chasing Ice, a documentary highlighting the work of climate change photographer Jim Balog. The second and third events focused on increasing energy efficiency at home and information on solar PV systems, respectively. Guests were informed of simple ways that they could reduce energy use...
Minneapolis benchmarking report now available
Dan Thiede
Tue, 03/07/2017 - 3:58pm
A new analysis of energy use for 417 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that they have the combined potential to save $27 million per year on energy costs by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 15 percent. The City of Minneapolis’ Energy Benchmarking Report analyzed the 2015 energy use of 264 commercial and 153 public properties that submitted data to the City as required by the building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance (building owners had until June 2016 to submit data). The buildings in the report include 107 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 8.1 million mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use, which is the equivalent use of about 102,000 households or roughly 60 percent of the...
Zero Energy Schools program
Peter Lindstrom
Mon, 02/20/2017 - 1:39pm
Minnesota and California along with six school districts and several national organizations are implementing partners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) new Zero Energy Schools Accelerator program, the DOE announced on Dec. 6. The Accelerator is part of the DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative and its ongoing strategy to advance energy efficiency and accelerate the market adoption of Zero Energy Buildings. “K-12 schools have good replication potential and can lead the way to market transformation of zero energy construction,” according to the DOE. “The Zero Energy Schools Accelerator aims to reduce the energy consumption of schools, while enhancing the educational environment for our nation’s students and making Zero Energy Buildings mainstream.” A Zero Energy Building is an energy-efficient building, where, on a source energy basis, the actual delivery of energy is less than or...
Paws + Claws Rescue & Resort installs solar PV
Joel Haskard
Tue, 02/07/2017 - 4:27pm
Paws + Claws Rescue & Resort in Hackensack, MN is building a brand new facility that will open in late Spring 2017. They will be working hard to make sure that their shelter pets find the forever homes they deserve, and thanks in part to a Central CERT Seed Grant, their new headquarters will also be the forever home to a 40 kW solar PV array. “As a nonprofit that is promoting smart energy use, we believe this will increase public awareness of our efforts to operate our animal shelter in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly,” shared Jim Clark, Paws + Claws Executive Director. “We hope that this attention to smart energy use can serve as a model for other animal shelters, as well.” Making solar work for the nonprofit   Paws + Claws worked with an investor willing to build a 40 kW solar array on their...
Getting to 80% renewables in St. Cloud, MN
Joel Haskard
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 12:15pm
St. Cloud is one of eight communities in Minnesota recently recognized at the 2016 Clean Energy Community Awards sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The awards recognized communities that contribute to the state’s clean energy goals by planning and implementing programs, policies, and technologies that encourage energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy generation. We spoke with Patrick Shea, St. Cloud’s Public Services Director, to learn more. There seem to be a lot of exciting clean energy projects happening in St. Cloud. How did the city come up with its energy goals and projects?   Patrick Shea: The City has been recognized for sustainability and livability by several organizations including the State of...
Students support the environment at 2016 EarthFest Expo in Rochester
Peter Michaels
Tue, 12/13/2016 - 2:59pm
Over 500 individuals attended the one-day EarthFest Expo, which is a part of a weeklong EarthFest celebration hosted at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota. This celebration brings people together to learn about environmental products and services, get involved in local sustainability efforts, and take part in clean-up events. The EarthFest Expo was hosted on April 24, 2016, at the Mayo Civic Center and offered a lot to those who attended the free event. This year’s expo featured 40 vendors of environmental products and services, informational displays, and the Rochester Public Library’s book bike. Vendor booths at the 2016 EarthFest Expo in Rochester. “Even though we have a lot of good volunteers, the majority of the work falls on about six of us. The CERTs grant took a lot of pressure off our funding concerns, so that really helped,” said Ivan Idso, the lead organizer...
Kicking the tires on electric vehicle charging stations in Bemidji, MN
Anna Carlson
Wed, 09/21/2016 - 3:28pm
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 $2.4 million Guaranteed Energy Savings Program project, with Jesse Robertson and Nate Mathews from the city giving an overview of the project as it has unfolded. Regarding the new LED street lighting, City Manager Mathews noted, “Downtown businesses love it because it is way better lit.” Robertson added, “For any city, I would recommend something like GESP.” Next came Sam Mason, Manager of Energy Services and Facilities at...
Touring NRRI's biomass research
Joel Haskard
Mon, 08/08/2016 - 3:24pm
The mission of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) is to “deliver research solutions to balance our economy, resources and environment for resilient communities.” On a recent Northeast CERT tour, participants were given a sneak peek at the innovative ways NRRI is fulfilling their mission in the realm of energy. “We want to deliver solutions for resilient communities,” noted Director Rolf Weberg. “$18 billion dollars of energy costs goes out of Minnesota every year. We are looking at ways to chip away at that very large outgoing budget by using biomass energy.” Although there are many energy-themed studies being pursued by NRRI (measuring the efficacy of three unique solar panel installations and testing a new wind turbine prototype were both mentioned), the tour focused on...
Attendees learn about 10MW solar PV array under construction at Camp Ripley
Sarah Hayden Shaw
Fri, 08/05/2016 - 3:22pm
The U.S. Military and National Guard have been leaders when it comes to adopting clean energy, and Camp Ripley in Little Falls is ahead of the pack in Minnesota. What are they doing? That’s what 50 Minnesotans recently found out! On Tuesday, August 2nd, the Minnesota National Guard Camp Ripley Training Center opened their doors to the public for a Central CERT tour to show off their amazing work to make their facility a national leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy production, and energy security.   We started off with a lineup of great presenters Marty Skoglund, Environmenal Program Manager for the Minnesota National Guard: Marty started out by telling us about the incredibly biodiverse setting the Camp is located in and their efforts to protect and preserve this unique wilderness. He then...
USDA Rural Development Program Summary
Alexis Troschinetz
Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:24am
USDA Rural Development offers an array of programs to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural Minnesota. A new Program Summary guide offers an overview of all programs—it’s a must-read resource for learning about how your goals and projects could be supported. What exactly does USDA Rural Development do in Minnesota? Offer loans, grants and loan guarantees to support essential services such as housing, economic development, health care, first responder services and equipment, and water, electric and communications infrastructure. Promote economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools. Offer technical assistance and information to help agricultural producers and cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. Provide technical assistance to help...
CERTs Seed Grants
Lissa Pawlisch
Wed, 01/06/2016 - 10:35am
The Clean Energy Resource Teams are excited to announce 39 Seed Grant awards to organizations in the seven Minnesota CERT regions. Each region awarded around $20,000 worth of grants, catalyzing energy efficiency and renewable energy across the state. CERTs has awarded over $1 million in Seed Grants to 269 projects since 2006. Continue reading to explore a map of projects and see details about each of the grants. To learn more about past funded projects, visit our CERTs Seed Grants page. New Opportunity: The Southwest CERT Region has seed grant funds still available that they are dedicating to focused project support. Click here to learn more about the SW Clean Energy Accelerator....
Holiday Station in Worthington finances energy improvements with PACE
Joel Haskard
Tue, 12/22/2015 - 12:24pm
If you’re in Worthington, stop by Bob & Steve’s Holiday gas station sometime and check out the energy efficiency work they have done on the exterior and interior. The recent projects funded by PACE included LED lights, new coolers and compressors, and new HVAC. “The PACE program was introduced to us by Larry Potter at Blue Line Truck Stop,” says owner Bob Raudenbush. “With a phone call and some very helpful information from Robin Weis at the Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC), we jumped at the chance to lower our energy costs.” According to the energy audit from Rick Otten, Certified Energy Manager. these projects...
Photo credit: MN Dragons Chung Do Kwan - Tyler, MN
Joel Haskard
Tue, 12/22/2015 - 10:27am
Patricia Torkelson owns the Main Street Do Jong in Tyler, Minnesota (home of the MN Dragons Chung Do Kwan group). It’s a busy place, with Tae Kwon Do, LifeFit, and even line dancing classes. Now, thanks to Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, people will be getting in shape under better lighting and the business will be saving money. “We used to have these big fluorescent lights, but we do martial arts and fitness in there, and we don’t want lights that can be broken easily,” says Torkelson. “Now we have new LED lights that are even with the ceiling, and they’re much more energy efficient.” According to the energy audit, these improvements will result in $454 or 77% in annual energy savings. The return on investment is shown at 11.4 years. The new LED lights are projected to run for 60,000 hours or...


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Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission