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CERT grants awarded to support area projects

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams have announced seed grants to projects in each of the seven Minnesota CERTs regions.

These catalyzing grants of up to $11,000 will help projects garner further funding and bring communities together in identifying and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. CERTs received 122 proposals requesting a total of $829,224; of these, 55 proposals were funded for a total granting amount of $280,000.

Grants in the Bemidji area went to the following:

Northwest Region

Rabideau Conservation Academy and Learning Center, Bemidji, Blackduck and Cass Lake, Solar Contest; Clean Energy and Education, $5,000

The Rabideau Conservation Academy and Learning Center will hold a solar heating design contest for high school students in the Bemidji, Blackduck, and Cass Lake school districts. A panel of three judges will choose the winning design, which will then be constructed by a group of youth, with guidance from the winning design team. The solar heating units will supply supplemental heat to a series of greenhouses and ultimately lengthen the growing season for Rabideau Gardens. The solar heater will be used as a public education model on solar energy and local food production and be a permanent youth learning program at Rabideau CALC.

Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, BioHaus - Engaging Middle School Teachers and Students in Hands-on Activities with Renewable Energy Models; Clean Energy and Education, $5,000.

This project will give middle school science teachers in northwestern Minnesota the opportunity to incorporate Concordia Language Villages' BioHaus Environmental Living Center into their curriculum. BioHaus is the first certified Passive House in North America and achieves energy savings of 85 percent annually. Teachers will attend a one-day workshop at BioHaus to learn applications of a variety of renewable energy models and how to incorporate them into a curriculum. Teachers can then bring 22-28 students to BioHaus for a full-day field trip where they will calculate their own ecological footprints and evaluate their behavior patterns, in hopes of gaining an understanding of the relationship between personal choices and energy conservation alternatives.

Clear Waters Life Center, Gonvick, Gonvick Efficiency Project; Energy Efficiency and Education; $4,000.

The CWLC-Gonvick Project will improve the energy efficiency of heating and cooling the old Gonvick school building, which was purchased by the Clear Waters Life Center for conversion into a community-based facility. The building will serve to educate the public about the benefits of alternative energy sources and energy efficiency.

Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Climate Action Planning; Education & Research, $10,000.

Bemidji State University and Bemidji city officials have made written commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To comply with these commitments, the partners will collaborate with a hired consultant to form a city sustainability commission and draft a Climate Action Plan that will advise the mayor and city council on projects that impact the local community members and environment.

Northwest Technical College, Bemidji, Ethanol-Fueled ATV Demonstration; Research and Education, $5,000.

The project is designed to demonstrate the potential benefits of modifying engines to better utilize ethanol-blend fuels in the regionally manufactured Arctic Cat all-terrain vehicle. Students and faculty from the Northwest Technical College's High-Performance Engine Machinist Program and Arctic Cat employees will conduct research in this partnership. Their findings will be used to educate decision-makers and the public about the modifications, resulting efficiency gains, cost-effectiveness, potential applications and markets for the engine modifications, exciting areas for further study and testing, and the potential opportunities for further developing bio-fueled engine industries.

Northeast Region

Leech Lake Tribal College, Cass Lake, Sustainable Development Plan; Research; $6,000)

This project will create a master campus development plan for Leech Lake Tribal College. With a primary vision of designing future buildings to incorporate geothermal and solar energy technology as primary heating and cooling sources, the plan will also include options for retrofitting their four existing buildings for increased energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. LLTC will construct all future buildings to at least LEED Silver standards.

Goals for grants

Project funding will put Minnesotans to work by supporting technical assistance labor services, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor, for projects across the state in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central. A list of all of the seed grant recipients by region can be found on the CERTs website at

This is the fourth round of grant funding from CERTs, which awarded seed grants to Minnesota projects in 2006, 2007 and 2008, funding more than 80 projects during that time, and providing non-financial assistance to many more. For the current round of funding, each of the seven regions had a $40,000 pool of grant money to award. Each regional team's steering committee made its own seed grant selections. Funding levels vary by region. Projects approved will be completed by Dec. 31, 2010.

The funded projects are in the areas of energy efficiency, clean energy, education and research. Funding is provided through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security.

A list of funded projects by region is online at