Building energy efficiency workshop March 29

Posted by Bruce Anderson, March 25th , 2007.

Plan now to attend “Building Energy Efficiency 101: Cost-Effective Home Energy Saving Strategies for the 21st Century” Thursday, March 29th from 7 to 9 PM in the Northfield Public Library meeting room. This will be the first in a series of workshops sponsored by Northfield EnergySmart BuildingWorks, an initiative of RENew Northfield and the Northfield Area Foundation.3.04 kW PV array

Workshop attendees will learn from local builders and other experts how to cost-effectively save energy and money whether you are building a new home or living in a drafty 19th-century Victorian. State-of-the-art building techniques and technologies will be covered, as well as utility and government financial incentives. Case studies on several new homes and older home retrofits will detail the energy efficiency and renewable energy steps taken and actual energy saving results.

The workshop will be repeated on Saturday, April 7 from noon to 2 PM in the same location. Future workshops planned include
•May 2 (repeated June 2): Incorporating Renewable Energy Systems into Your Energy-Efficient Building: Geothermal, Solar and Small Wind Systems
•July 10 (repeated August 11): Putting It All Together: Cost-Effective Zero Energy Homes

For more information, contact us.

Filed under: Events, News, Northfield EnergySmart BuildingWorks

Schmidt Homes Named EnergySmart Partner of the Month

Posted by Bruce Anderson, February 22nd , 2007.

Northfield EnergySmart BuildingWorks (ESBW) has named Schmidt Homes as its first EnergySmart Partner of the Month. ESBW is an initiative of RENew Northfield, with funding from the Northfield Area Foundation and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Schmidt Homes was selected as the February EnergySmart Partner of the Month in recognition of the company’s long-standing commitment to building high quality energy-efficient homes. Since the company’s founding in 1981, they have been dedicated to energy savings and environmental protection. Since 2005, Schmidt Homes has committed to building 100% of its homes to federal Energy Star standards. Homes that earn the Energy Star rating must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Star qualified homes are at least 15 percent more energy-efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC).

Before construction begins on a Schmidt Home, a third-party certifier reviews the blueprints to determine if the house is on track to perform at the required energy efficiency level. Two site inspections during construction assess quality control. After construction, a third site inspection verifies air tightness. Only homes that successfully complete the program can be certified as Energy Star Homes.

Some of the standard features found in Schmidt Homes include:
• R-46 attic insulation
• High-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners
• Double-pane low-E inert gas-filled windows
• Attention to detail in sealing air leaks. Foam insulation, duct sealing, Tyvek wrap with taped seams and caulked wall-to-floor connections, careful caulking, weather-stripping and gaskets reduce drafts, improve comfort and energy-efficiency, and ensure building shell durability
• Heat recovery ventilation systems.

Steven Schmidt, president and founder of Schmidt Homes, says “Customers will usually buy what builders have to sell if they are convinced they’re getting value. It’s not hard to sell potential customers on the idea that energy-efficiency is an integral part of our high-quality package, and that it’s cost-effective as well.”

ESBW seeks to raise community expectations concerning the energy performance of local buildings, and will be hosting a series of local workshops:
•March 29 (repeated April 7): Building Energy Efficiency 101
•May 2 (repeated June 2): Incorporating Renewable Energy Systems into Your Energy-Efficient Building: Geothermal, Solar and Small Wind Systems
•July 10 (repeated August 11): Putting It All Together: Cost-Effective Zero Energy Homes

ESBW is also partnering with the Northfield HRA and Rice County Habitat for Humanity to create highly energy-efficient affordable housing in the Northfield area. For more information, call 507.664.2023.

Filed under: News

NuRide is here!

Posted by Chris Ludewig, February 16th , 2007.

A couple of years ago at one of the first RENew Northfield Transportation Committee meetings Chris Ludewig expressed an interest in an internet based ride sharing system to make it very easy to match people and their destinations. I liked the idea too. After some initial discussions with both the St. Olaf and Carleton Computer Science Departments to have computer science majors design and build a system it was determined that it was probably too large a project for them.

And then the first big spike in gas prices came. All of a sudden it seems there were ride sharing systems all over on the internet. I found three that seemed of most interest, each with a different marketing approach. The first wanted to charge the users of the system, the drivers and riders, which from my experience in carpooling did not seem viable. The second proposed that the cost is borne by the government entity but we were in the midst of a no-new-taxes frenzy – and this would have been new spending. But the third took a different approach: they were giving the drivers and riders rewards points for SAVING money and gas and reducing the number of vehicles on the road.
That third one is NuRide.

It works like this: A government entity pays a relatively small fee for the software and its maintenance. NuRide does all of the sales and marketing. Advertisers or sponsors on the site offer rewards – such as Ben and Jerry’s or Target. Drivers and riders earn reward points for each shared trip. Each can earn up to $1,000 in reward points in a year.

Our ten person vanpool that runs daily from Northfield to St. Paul is signing up! And what does that mean for us? Including our pre-tax payment for lease, insurance, maintenance and fuel (about a cup of bio-diesel and a quart of petroleum-based diesel per person per day), parking and a subsidy for vanpooling minus our $1,000 NuRide reward = $0!

So if you know of anyone who is going from anywhere to anywhere in Minnesota, get them to sign up!

Charlie Stark, RENew Board Member

Filed under: News

Greener roofing alternatives workshop

Posted by Bruce Anderson, November 10th , 2006.

Nail guns are banging all over Northfield as replacement of roofs damaged in the August 24th hail storm continues into the late fall. If you are a home or business owner whose roof has NOT yet been replaced, or if you are a local contractor who would like to learn more about alternative roofing materials and techniques, plan to attend the “Greener Roofing Alternatives” workshop at the Northfield Public Library meeting room at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 18th.


Filed under: News, Northfield EnergySmart BuildingWorks

Open House: Greater Northfield Area Greenway Corridor System

Posted by Bruce Anderson, October 31st , 2006.

This Wednesday, November 1st, there will be a unique opportunity to comment on the kind of greenway/non-motorized trail system the Northfield area might develop over the next 20 or more years. The City of Northfield will host an open house to view and comment on the draft “Greater Northfield Area Greenway Corridor System” from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Northfield City Council Chambers.

Members of a steering committee and a technical task force developed the draft this summer with assistance from a consultant from Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik and Associates.

Plan to drop in if you would like to have a say in how this plan could be improved and/or implemented.

Filed under: News, Transportation