Minnesota's Legacy

Demonstrating Sustainable Energy Practices at Residential Environmental Learning Centers (RELCs) - Lauentian

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
The MN Coalition of RELCs
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2012
Counties Affected
St. Louis
St. Louis
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 07d4
Appropriation Language

$1,500,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for agreements as follows: $206,000 with Audubon Center of the North Woods; $212,000 with Deep Portage Learning Center; $350,000 with Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center; $258,000 with Laurentian Environmental Learning Center; $240,000 with Long Lake Conservation Center; and $234,000 with Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center to implement renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy conservation practices at the facilities. Efforts will include dissemination of related energy education.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Overview

Six environmental learning centers located around the state - Audubon Center of the North Woods, Deep Portage Learning Center, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Laurentian Environmental Learning Center, Long Lake Conservation Center and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center - are using this appropriation to expand their use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy conservation technologies at their facilities. Once implemented these technologies will be employed as demonstrations to be used in their educational curriculum for close to 85,000 visitors each year. These improvements may also be used as part of the New ERA (Energy Resource Advisor) program being developed by Winona State University that will offer adults a continuing education course intended to foster understanding and leadership of environmental sustainability in our communities, homes, and workplaces.

In 2007, a McKinstry study was conducted at the six residential environmental learning centers in Minnesota to identify ways to reduce carbon, and energy consumption. The results of the study were used as the baseline carbon and energy use for Laurentian Environmental Center. This data was submitted as part of the LCCMR ENRTF grant request that focused on carbon reduction as a result of envelope improvements for the lodge and office buildings, and a solar hot water. In 2010, Laurentian Environmental Center (LEC) was awarded $258,000 from the ENRTF. In late early fall of 2010,an RFP was sent out for the design work of the project. Wagner Zaun Architecture of Duluth was selected to design and manage the project. A predesign site assessment determined the scope of work. A design package and RFP for the energy retrofit of the lodge and office was created, and sent out. Nelson Exteriors was selected to complete the project. The retrofit work included air sealing, insulation, high efficiency windows and doors, and mechanical improvements. Construction began in fall 2010, and was completed in spring 2011.

In spring 2011, design work for the solar hot water system was conducted by Wagner Zahn Architecture, and Conservation Technologies. Bid specifications were developed. Qualified contractors were identified, and invited to submit proposals. Innovative Power Systems was awarded the contract for the design and installation of the lodge solar hot water system, and Gruska Construction was awarded the contract for site preparation and slab installation. The slab was installed fall 2011. Solar installation occurred fall/winter 2011/2012.. The solar hot water system was fully operational in April 2012.. Innovative Power Systems designed and installed a solar hot water monitoring package that was below budget, and met the center needs.

The envelope improvements in the lodge and office have made a remarkable difference in the overall comfort of the buildings. Prior to the construction, it was difficult to maintain uniform temperatures. Air sealing, insulation, and operational windows have made the building extremely comfortable for groups and staff to use. Propane use in the lodge has dropped approximately 40%, due to a combination of burning more wood for heating, and the energy retrofit projects. Future energy monitoring and utility bills will likely yield continued reductions in carbon, and energy use.

Project Details
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
The MN Coalition of RELCs
Street Address
c/o LEC, 8950 Peppard Rd
Zip Code
(651) 621-7403