MN Energy Smart
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PACE financing can be a great way to finance an energy efficiency project.

Financing Options Keeping PACE with Businesses

As businesses grow they must boost efficiency. Reducing energy costs is a reliable way to trim overhead costs and increase competitiveness. But some businesses hesitate to make larger energy-saving improvements when their initial investment will also be larger. “We may outgrow this space in a couple of years,” they say. “What happens to our investment then?” Fair point. Now there is a type of financing developed for commercial property owners and renters that are exploring significant energy upgrades. The State of Minnesota Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) program allows eligible businesses and nonprofit organizations to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, and make payments in the form of a voluntary assessment to the property. [more…]


Tap Energy Savings in Your Home Office

Many of Minnesota’s largest businesses are actively engaging in energy conservation. Big companies with big facilities are realizing big savings when they reduce energy consumption. The sustainability leaders at these companies deserve our recognition and praise. Keep up the great work! But what about home offices? Are we doing all we can to conserve energy at our home-based businesses and home offices? Not so much. When you add up the potential energy savings across hundreds of thousands of home offices in Minnesota alone, this is a market segment that deserves our attention. If you have a home office, you may not realize there are great resources available to help your space be more energy efficient. Information, [more…]


Missing Out on Cold Cash? Save Energy on Refrigeration

There’s a reason why your parent griped at you to close the fridge door when you were a kid: Doing so runs up the energy bill. This is not news to food service companies, including grocers, restauranteurs, food product manufacturers, and convenience store owners. Keeping cold spaces cold typically makes up the largest portion of their energy bills. What is news are the energy-saving advancements in refrigeration technology that are now available to replace conventional energy-hogging motors—and quite often receive a utility rebate for doing so. Cut refrigeration costs 40-70 percent The latest electrically commutated (EC) motors can cut refrigeration energy use and cost by 40-70 percent over shaded pole motors on evaporator fans. In fact, Energy [more…]

How ENERGY STAR Approval Pays You in Brand Loyalty

Energy efficiency creates brand value. For more than 20 years, American consumers have invested in energy efficiency when shopping for appliances and other electronics. Look around your building and you’ll see the blue ENERGY STAR logo on everything from computers to refrigerators to HVAC systems—quite possibly on the screen in front of you. Now business owners and managers can receive ENERGY STAR certification for their buildings as well as their products. Organizations that earn the blue logo can show customers, employees, vendors and communities that their brand stands for sustainability, and that they have modernized facilities to meet high energy efficiency standards. Market trends indicate customers expect businesses to show they care. Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks [more…]

Filament LEDs: Vintage Look, Modern Efficiency

What’s old is new again with filament LED bulbs and fixtures. Because of their superior energy efficiency, LEDs have become more popular, and commercial lighting designers are upping their design game to compete for increased sales. To meet demand, manufacturers are creating filament LED bulbs that provide a vintage feel—more Thomas Edison than Star Trek. Face it: There’s something warm and no stalgic ab out filament bulbs. This early style of lighting was disappearing. People were fed up with energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs, but many were not satisfied with the atmospherics of rose-tinted CFLs and blue-tinted LEDs. Now, filament LEDs are bringing warmth back to restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies, and other commercial interiors. An older building, such [more…]

Luscious LED Luminaires

Saving energy is still the big motivator for most companies switching to LEDs, but if you won’t do it for the cha-ching, do it for the chic. The world’s top designers are lighting up interiors with gorgeous new LED lamps. Here are a few standouts from the 2015 Red Dot Awards. Barrisol – Lovegrove Manta LED Lamp Evoking flowing oceans and billowing clouds, the organic design of these lights is experiential. The LEDs are integrated into the filigree aluminum frame covered with a stretched translucent membrane. Designed by Ross Lovegrove, and manufactured by Barrisol Normalu SAS.   Luce Verde Slim LED Wall and Pendant Luminaire Talk about mood lighting. Invite your customers to relax in [more…]

Energy Efficiency FAQs

Q: Are there rebates or other incentives available for energy efficiency projects? A: Yes! There are incentives for which your organization may qualify when you complete energy-saving upgrades. You may have already be aware of rebates offered through your utility providers, but you may not realize there are also grants and financing programs to make upgrading more affordable. Federal tax credits may also apply to certain efficiency improvements. See Energy Smart’s Financial Incentives and Rebate Finder pages for details. Q: How do I know which energy efficiency improvements are best for my business? A: Each organization’s energy use and efficiency needs are different, and Energy Smart will guide you in creating an energy plan tailored [more…]

Case Studies Demonstrate Value of Energy Efficiency Retrofits

In 2013, the University of Minnesota began a retrofit of its Biological Sciences laboratory building to boost its energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, and increase occupant comfort. Data now available demonstrates the remarkable return on investment resulting from this project. A case study published recently by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) details how the efficiency upgrades yielded a 46 percent reduction in energy use in the laboratory building, and a $242,000 reduction in annual utility costs. According to the report in Valuing Energy Efficiency, the project was completed for $450,000, and “the annual return on investment was approximately 60 percent, which equates to a 596 percent total return on investment when considering the assumed [more…]

Focus on Restaurants: Stop Losing Money on Ventilation

For many restaurants the biggest energy hog is the kitchen ventilation system. Older, low-efficiency models run continuously during operating hours, guzzling electricity and gas, while also venting air that the restaurant owner has already paid to be cooled or heated. Ouch. There has to be a better solution. Meet the next generation in high-efficiency venting: demand controlled kitchen ventilation (DCKV) systems. DCKV systems provide automatic, continuous monitoring of cooking activity, and adjust the kitchen vents to run only as needed. DCKVs use temperature, optical, and infrared sensors to determine when to increase or decrease fan speeds. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using DCKV, energy use can be cut 70 to 90 percent during off-peak [more…]

MN Report: $1 Returns $4 When Invested in Conservation

A new report concludes that Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) is successfully boosting the state’s economy, creating jobs, and protecting the environment. The independent analysis, released by the Minnesota Commerce Department, found that the program produces a significant ROI: every dollar invested in energy efficiency through CIP generates $4.00 to $4.30 in energy savings, environmental benefits, and new economic activity. Through CIP grantees like Minnesota Energy Smart, utilities offer business customers rebates for high-efficiency boilers, chillers and rooftop units; lighting and lighting control systems; and motors. They also provide design assistance for energy-efficient buildings, and technical assistance to reduce the energy intensity of manufacturing processes. Residential customers receive benefits such as energy audits and incentives [more…]


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