Energy Efficiency Blog Posts

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Castle Community
Chris Meyer
Wed, 01/23/2019 - 4:37pm
A unique collaboration brought energy modeling and efficiency measures into the renovation of the former National Guard Armory in Rochester—now dubbed the Castle Community. The measures are expected to reduce energy use by 20% when the building reopens as a multi-use space consisting of a restaurant, artist studios, gallery, and community gathering and events center. Building a Team General contractor Benike Construction wanted to promote efficiency in the Castle Community redevelopment. They approached the project owner, Scott Hoss, and then enlisted the help of Dru Larson from Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), and Kevin Bright, Energy and Sustainability Director at Destination Medical Center (DMC). Together...
Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study
Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 12/13/2018 - 2:05pm
Minnesota utilities should be able to continue to meet or exceed their annual energy-savings goals over the next decade, according to the Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study: 2020-2029 prepared for the Minnesota Department of Commerce and released on Dec. 4. The study was led by the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) and funded by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program. The study outlines how utilities can continue their success with both existing and new energy-saving measures that benefit Minnesota households and businesses. It estimates that by 2029 utility conservation programs could decrease demand for electricity by 14% and by 11% for natural gas....
Energy Efficiency Holiday Gift Ideas
Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 12/13/2018 - 11:51am
This holiday season is an opportunity to pick out special gifts that your family will appreciate and that have the added bonus of delivering energy savings and a smaller carbon footprint. When you select appliances, electronics and lighting that carry the ENERGY STAR® label, you can trust that your gift meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For a wide variety of energy-efficient holiday gifts, including special deals and rebates, the Minnesota Commerce Department recommends the ENERGY STAR website. An ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostat is one of the many gifts that will keep on giving for years with energy savings. Check out these other gift ideas… Gifts for tech lovers:...
Swine farmers learn about energy efficiency and solar at CERTs event in Fairmont
Fritz Ebinger
Tue, 11/27/2018 - 1:21pm
Over 35 farmers, utility staff and community members met on the morning of November 15 to learn about methods and technologies to manage energy consumption in swine barns. The event was hosted by Southwest CERT, Great River Energy, and the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. And a huge thank you to the Martin County Pork Producers for the great pork chops at lunch!   Start with Energy Efficiency and Know Where Your Barn Uses Energy   Jill Eide, CEM from Great River Energy kicked off the session explaining Great River Energy and its member cooperatives focus on energy efficiency to keep production costs down. Jill described Great River Energy’s new farm audit program, “Energy Wise for your Farm” which launched this past summer with funding from the...
Local government staff join tour of energy efficiency improvements at Mankato State University
Chris Meyer
Tue, 11/20/2018 - 2:43pm
On Thursday, November 1st, Southeast Clean Energy Resource Teams (SE CERT) hosted a “Capturing Savings from Public Building Energy Efficiency: Benchmarking through Financing – Getting your Project Done” session at the Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Centennial Student Union. CERTs has worked for years to reinforce that the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use. Turns out that the 50 attendees at the event know that’s true and were enthusiastic to hear from the range of speakers about varying strategies for reducing the impact of energy costs on their bottom line.   Strategy 1: Energy Benchmarking!   Cheri Schneider of the Weidt Group kicked off the session with an introduction to the key elements of the Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond—B3—Benchmarking Tool. Cheri highlighted the different...
Bill Sanford at Lakeland PBS leading a tour. Photo by Sarah Gazelka
Joel Anastasio
Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:43pm
Back to back clean energy events at Lakeland PBS on Thursday October 11th featured a tour of solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency projects, a screening of a new MN clean energy documentary, and local speakers.   Geeking out: Touring clean energy projects at Lakeland PBS in Bemidji   An afternoon event featured a behind-the-scenes tour of the Lakeland PBS facility, including their cost-saving solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency projects. Over 40 people from Bemidji and across the region attended the tour, with interests ranging from sustainability to economics, and from technology to community engagement. Bill Sanford, CEO and Director of Engineering at Lakeland PBS, led the tours and elaborated on their energy projects and how others could do the same. “We’re excited to be partnering with...
PACE counties and stories
Peter Lindstrom
Fri, 09/21/2018 - 3:45pm
From the Greenway Office Building in Minneapolis to Timm’s Trucking in Morristown and from AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji to the First National Bank in Saint Paul, businesses are benefitting from solar and efficiency improvements with no up-front costs and streamlined payments through their property tax assessments. Updated map: 63 of Minnesota...
Testing at a wastewater treatment facility
Joel Haskard
Fri, 09/21/2018 - 2:06pm
Effective wastewater treatment systems are critical infrastructure to manage waste effluent within hundreds of communities in Minnesota. The Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA) is partnering with MPCA, MnTAP, City of St. Cloud and Met Council on a Wastewater Optimization Pilot Project (Pond and Mechanical). Optimization includes getting better results through existing infrastructure. The goal of the project is to provide assistance to comply with water quality standards without needing expensive new construction and increased nutrient removal and improved operational efficiencies. There is NO cost to participate in this project! Click here to learn more and apply >>   More case studies highlight energy efficiency at Minnesota wastewater treatment plants   Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) operate in...
Diamond Pointe Apartments in South Minneapolis
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 09/14/2018 - 9:47am
There are great incentives for multifamily building owners—and their tenants—to make energy efficiency improvements. Just ask Grant Hartley, building manager and co-owner of Diamond Pointe Apartments in South Minneapolis. “With the change-out to LEDs and other energy-saving measures, tenants may only see savings of $2-3 a month on their electric bills. But collectively, the savings are significant and add up,” shared Grant Hartley, co-owner and manager of Diamond Pointe Apartments in Minneapolis. “The program is really a win-win situation for my tenants and me.” Hartley learned of the Multifamily Building Efficiency Program, a joint Conservation Improvement Program of Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, in a flyer inserted with his monthly utility bill. He learned more and signed up for the program...
Bus tour of Warren, MN clean energy projects
Joel Anastasio
Fri, 07/13/2018 - 1:20pm
Over 30 people met in Warren, Minnesota, (pop. 1,563) on the morning of Thursday, June 28, 2018, to learn how the city has advanced its local economy with energy efficiency and renewable energy, while saving the city on its bottom line. The event was hosted by Northwest Clean Energy Resource Team (NW CERT), the City of Warren, and Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC). A little background on Warren’s efforts: Not only is Warren a Minnesota GreenStep City, they were also chosen to participate in the Climate-Smart Municipalities Partnership, which connected the City of Arnsberg, Germany, with the City of Warren. This three-year program allows the sister cities to learn from another as a way to address the economic development opportunity of...
Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Joel Haskard
Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:52am
A small business with an aging building can benefit immensely from energy efficiency upgrades, benefits such as reduced utility bills, improved building aesthetics and increased building life. However, these upgrades can be financially cumbersome to small businesses that often operate on smaller margins. The Business Energy Retrofit (BER) grant program can help alleviate energy upgrade costs to small businesses. It is funded by Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation and administered through a partnership with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA). Two Grand Rapids businesses recently took advantage of this program.   Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ReStore   The Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ReStore (pictured above) received a BER grant to pay a portion of the costs for electricity...
Xcel Energy Partners In Energy Program
Tami Gunderzik
Fri, 05/11/2018 - 11:36am
Although Minnesota communities share a common belief of how important a healthy environment is to both our economy and lifestyle, there are many ways of putting that value into action. Finding ways to engage local businesses and residents to make a contribution toward a clean energy plan is an approach that works. Eighteen communities in Minnesota have participated in Partners in Energy to develop a plan that helps them identify where they want to go with respect to energy and how to best achieve those goals, and now there is an opportunity for even more to share in their success. Xcel Energy is now accepting applications for the next cohort of communities to join Partners in Energy....
Business Blitzers (left to right): John Howard, City of Winona; Chris Meyer, SE CERT coordinator; Sadie Neuman, City of Winona; Alexis Troschinetz, CERTs; Joel Haskard, CERTs
Sadie Neuman
Tue, 05/08/2018 - 2:34pm
After a snowstorm delayed plans, five staff from the City of Winona and Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) set out in March for the first Business Blitz in downtown Winona. The blitz involved walking door-to-door in downtown Winona to speak with small and medium sized businesses about reducing energy use and saving money on their energy bills. They achieved their goal of reaching 100 small and medium businesses, and signed 29 businesses up for free energy assessments with EnergySmart, a program offered by the State Chamber of Commerce. The blitz is following the success of a series of blitzes in other communities over the past several years. Throughout the day, the Business Blitz team informed business owners...
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...
Kate Wolford with The McKnight Foundation
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 9:56pm
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month, culminating in a reception at the 2018 CERTs Conference in St. Cloud on March 28th. As part of the series we interviewed Kate Wolford, President of The McKnight Foundation, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Kate Wolford: I serve as president of The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation...
Michelle Gransee with Minnesota Department of Commerce
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 9:46pm
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month, culminating in a reception at the 2018 CERTs Conference in St. Cloud on March 28th. As part of the series we interviewed Michelle Joy Gransee, State Energy Office Manager – Clean Energy & Programs at Minnesota Department of Commerce, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Michelle...
Becky Alexander with LHB
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 9:37pm
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month, culminating in a reception at the 2018 CERTs Conference in St. Cloud on March 28th. As part of the series we interviewed Becky Alexander, Architect and Researcher at LHB, Inc., to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Becky Alexander: As an architect and sustainability researcher at local architecture and...
Nina Axelson with Ever-Green Energy
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 9:29pm
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month, culminating in a reception at the 2018 CERTs Conference in St. Cloud on March 28th. As part of the series we interviewed Nina Axelson, Vice President Public Relations with Ever-Green Energy, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Nina Axelson: I oversee public affairs for Ever-Green Energy, a utility...
Lola Schoenrich with Great Plains Institute
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 9:14pm
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month, culminating in a reception at the 2018 CERTs Conference in St. Cloud on March 28th. As part of the series we interviewed Lola Schoenrich, Vice President with Great Plains Institute, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Lola Schoenrich: I am a Vice President at the Great Plains Institute, leading our...
Nancy Kelly with Michaels Energy
Dan Thiede
Wed, 02/28/2018 - 9:04pm
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month, culminating in a reception at the 2018 CERTs Conference in St. Cloud on March 28th. As part of the series we interviewed Nancy Kelly, Managing Engineer for Evaluation at Michaels Energy, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Nancy Kelly: I currently work for Michaels Energy, an energy efficiency consulting...

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