To those who feel that countless species and ecosystems throughout the world are threatened by mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels, it seems only fitting that a zoo might be used to showcase the myriad benefits of Renewable Energy.Duluth, Minnesota – December 17, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Such a plan will soon become a reality in Minnesota. Duluth’s Lake Superior Zoo was chosen as the site for northeastern Minnesota’s first Rebuild Minnesota Renewable Energy demonstration project. It’s designed to improve energy and environmental performance at the zoo while demonstrating the benefits to a large and diverse audience. Rebuild Minnesota is a new program through the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Partners in this project include Minnesota Power, City of Duluth’s Lake Superior Zoo and Public Works & Utilities, Rebuild Minnesota Institute, Johnson Controls, LHB Architects and Engineers and, of course, the animals. Each component of the project — from a solar water heating system to a micro-hydro plant — not only solves a current problem but also provides a unique education on Renewable Energy. Here’s what’s being proposed for 2002-03: — Solar hot water and potential space heating for the animal barn — Photovoltaic fueling station for electric vehicles — Geothermal heat exchanger to cool the polar bears and seal pools — Micro-hydro facility to provide power for a building or other site on Zoo property. “Thousands of people will have the opportunity to learn first hand about the value of energy and its relationship to our environment and the creatures that live in it,” said Mike Janis, Lake Superior Zoo director. “It is also a great opportunity to showcase the Rebuild Minnesota initiative to zoos all over the world. “It is truly a unique opportunity to educate both children and adults about the benefits of clean, Renewable Energy,” said Pat Mullen, Minnesota Power vice president, distribution operations/customer service. “A successful zoo project will provide Rebuild Minnesota the foundation for applying this collaborative model to cities throughout our service territory. Total cost of the project is approximately US$300,000 with construction to begin in January. Rebuild Minnesota is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rebuild America program creating partnerships to conserve energy in the buildings where we live, learn and work. It’s a network of nearly 500 community partnerships made up of local governments, schools, universities, public and private businesses and housing agencies dedicated to saving energy, improving building performance, reducing air pollution and enhancing the quality of life through energy efficiency. Created by DOE in 1994, Rebuild America serves as a tool for revitalization and job creation in many U.S. communities.