Demonstrating Sustainable Energy Practices at Residential Environmental Learning Centers (RELCs) - Long Lake Conservation Center

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
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.

Minnesota's six Residential Environmental Learning Centers (RELC) including Long Lake Conservation Center (LLCC) teamed up to obtain grant funding to reduce their carbon footprints and provide energy education that focuses on renewable energy. In order to get the most value from the energy efficiency measures a study was conducted for each RELC. As a result, a series of recommendations were given to reduce carbon and energy consumption. Each RELC is unique, so recommendations varied between them. Specifically for LLCC, the recommendations were to improve the energy efficiency in campus buildings, convert campus lighting to solar and LED's, design and install solar energy sources for the Northstar Lodge and Dining Hall.

LLCC goals for this project were:

  1. Increase conservation measures and energy efficiency in the targeted buildings.
  2. Invest in renewable energy technology applications that LLCC currently does not have.
  3. Use these conservation measures and renewable energy applications to educate users on making choices about conservation and renewable energy options that are applicable to their everyday lives.

All three goals have been met and the project was under budget.

In 10 years this collective education program will reach nearly 100,000 people who will attend LLCC and participate in its programs. This includes 55-60 K-12 schools annually and a number of other colleges and organizations who use LLCC.

The project is completed with the monitoring equipment installed and tested during the last week in June. Final installation and testing of the Solar Panel for the Dining Hall was completed in May, 2012. An issue with the Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative regarding the 3 Phase inverter was solved resulting in the final installation. The issue was technical in nature and the inverter's Manufacturer's specifications were submitted to Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, which they approved. The experience could assist in future solar projects with the cooperative. Overall the project went very well. However, over the 4th of July Holiday, LLCC experienced a lightning strike that disabled the entire phone system and the Directors computer, where the monitoring software was loaded. Aitkin County IT Department has rebuilt the computer and has re-installed the system at LLC. The phone system was also just recently repaired.

Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 07d5
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 Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
The MN Coalition of RELCs
Street Address
Long Lake Conservation Center, 28952 438th Lane
Zip Code
(218) 768-4653
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

Email the Agency