North American Energy Brings RE to Minnesota

Once completed, a new condo complex in St. Paul will strike a synergy between the past and the future as an old deserted manufacturing complex is renovated into energy efficient apartments. By summer 2003, the brick building along the river bluffs will be coursing with energy created from wind and geothermal sources.

St. Paul, Minnesota – November 20, 2002 [] The renovated apartment complex called Lowertown Bluffs Sustainable Urban Village, will be one of many communities throughout the United States taking advantage of environmentally conscious and financially attractive Renewable Energy and “green building” efficiency. Jeff Wallis, the project’s developer doesn’t profess to be a longtime expert in Renewable Energy or green construction, but America’s love affair with unnecessarily large houses, and energy price volatility quickly turned him on to what many see as the future of building construction. “I just learned that people can get by without these huge houses and when we got hit with a huge energy spike in 2000, I knew there was another way,” Wallis said. Wallis, together with J. Buxell Architecture Ltd, has teamed up with North American Energy to design and install numerous energy saving and pollution cutting alternative power systems in their multi-stage project. North American, headquartered in Stillwater, Minnesota designs and installs alternative energy systems including geothermal, wind, solar and hot water heat recovery. North American will provide geothermal radiant in-floor heating and cooling, photovoltaics, hot water heat recovery and tankless water heaters in the HVAC and plumbing designs for Lowertown Bluffs. Water pumped from the nearby Mississippi River will provide both heating and cooling for the units. While outside temperatures can fluctuate from over a hundred degrees to well below zero throughout the year, the constant supply of 55-degree water will stabilize temperatures and greatly reduce stress on the heating and cooling units. In addition, North American’s hot water recovery systems capture close to 70 percent of the heat from waste hot water. Installation of the systems will be completed by North American’s joint venture partner Total Air, Inc. The anticipated annual energy savings for all phases of the project will exceed US$935,000, while the annual reduction in pollution will exceed 12,250 tons. Lowertown Bluffs is utilizing north American’s performance financing which provides that the development energy savings is leveraged to self amortize the extra cost of alternative energy. Once completed, the community will consist of 300 condos and retail space, all integrated with a variety of energy efficient systems. In addition to advanced technology inside the buildings, five 40 KW wind turbines on the adjacent hill, and five others far from the community will generate well more power than the first of three buildings need. Minnesota’s net metering legislation entitles the community to receive retail repayment which is now close to ten cents per watt from the energy produced by the turbines. Wallis said green energy has become a focus for this and other projects he is involved with. This comes at a time when the world has become concerned over the global implications of pollution being caused by the increasing world population. Wallis said his development work has become almost entirely focused on sustainability and that buyers have responded positively. The savings generated from energy efficiency and Renewable Energy have allowed the units to be offered at competitive prices with already 80 percent sold. “They are genuinely excited about controlling their long-term energy cost, while helping the environment,” said Wallis. “A lot of people want to do something for the environment but they don’t know where to start – this gives them that possibility.”
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