Energy Efficient Cities
$2,000,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of commerce for an agreement with the Center for Energy and Environment for demonstration of innovative residential energy efficiency delivery and financing strategies, training, installation, evaluation, and recommendations for a utility residential energy conservation program.
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".
Increasing energy conservation and efficiency in residences can play a significant role in Minnesota's goals for energy savings and carbon emissions reductions. The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization, is using this appropriation to develop and implement innovative residential energy efficiency programs. Programs will be demonstrated in eight cities: Apple Valley, Austin, Duluth, Minneapolis, Owatonna, Park Rapids, Rochester, and St. Paul. Homeowners in these cities will have the opportunity to be trained in low-cost energy conservation strategies and selected homeowners will qualify for customized energy action plans, in-home visits by technicians, and assistance with major upgrades, such as insulation and replacement of heating and air conditioning systems. Additionally the project will provide training for people to work as residential energy efficiency improvement contractors resulting in the creation of new entry level jobs. CEE hopes to significantly reduce energy use in at least 6000 homes by the conclusion of the project and to develop programs that will ultimately benefit many more.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The Energy Efficient Cities project was developed to demonstrate innovative residential energy efficiency program delivery to reduce energy use and environmental impact in at least 6,000 homes through a community-wide partnership approach. With strong and crucial support from local gas and electric utilities, city-specific programs were developed in a total of 8 cities: Apple Valley, Austin, Duluth, Minneapolis, Owatonna, Park Rapids, Rochester, and St. Paul. While each city developed a customized approach, each program was designed to provide a "one-stop shop" comprehensive whole-house approach that makes taking energy efficiency actions as easy as possible for the homeowner, while maximizing participation and energy savings opportunities. This comprehensive approach involved the following components shared by each program:
- Community-based marketing strategies to recruit participants to workshops and for training participants to take low-cost energy actions;
- Home energy visits that include installation of low-cost materials and identify other energy-saving opportunities;
- Energy usage feedback reports to encourage individual energy-saving actions;
- Follow-up assistance, including providing cost-share, for completion of major efficiency upgrades including insulation, air sealing and major mechanicals replacement; and
- Training and quality control for insulation and air sealing contractors.
The project exceeded its original goals for participation, with 8,243 people attending workshops, 6,922 of those households completing a home energy visit, and 1,474 homes completing major energy efficiency upgrades. Over 36 contractors were trained in high performance installation techniques for insulation and air sealing jobs. The upgrades completed under this program generated $4.8 million in work for Minnesota's insulation and heating contractors. The total energy savings from measures installed in these homes will result in an estimated $13.8 million dollars in energy savings for the homeowners over the life of the measures. The programs will be continued in at least 5 of the participating cities.
Project Results Use and Dissemination Dissemination of information to homeowners was an integral part of the program. Our outreach activities for the program reached tens of thousands of Minnesotans, resulting in over 7,500 households attending a workshop that was produced by the project. The workshops educated people on basic energy conservation concepts and strategies, such as how a home loses energy, low-cost or no-cost methods for reducing energy, and what the process is for doing major energy efficiency upgrades in your home. The "Home Energy Resource Minnesota" website was also designed for education and outreach on energy efficiency issues. In addition, each city program had an on-line presence for dissemination of information about the program.
In addition to outreach targeted to homeowners as part of program activities, efforts were made to communicate to utilities, cities and other potential program sponsors of energy efficiency programs the Energy Efficient Cities program results, and increase uptake of similar residential programs. A presentation was given in August 2010 at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) Summer Study on Buildings in Pacific Grove, California. Based on interest at that conference, another webinar presentation on the program was given as part of a series sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and attended by over 500 participants. A second webinar presentation was conducted for a national network of local government officials organized by the Institute for Sustainable Communities. A presentation was also conducted for the Clean Energy Teams (CERTs) conference in February 2011. Both Minneapolis's and St. Paul's programs were featured in a national study of retrofit programs by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab entitled "Driving Demand for Home Energy Improvements." As a result of the initial program success, programs in Minneapolis, Duluth, Owatonna, Rochester and Austin will continue beyond the grant period, funded by utilities and other sources.
Finally, a report was completed to document the project and communicate lessons learned to utilities and other potential program sponsors. The report will be disseminated to Minnesota utilities, and presentations will be scheduled with interested parties. A presentation has been scheduled for October in Owatonna for the Midwest chapter of the Association of Energy Service Professionals.