Idea Spotlight

Advanced Energy Strips

They call it energy vampires — the electrical items that continue to use electricity even when turned off. Items like laptop chargers, DVD players, and video game consoles that draw power when in standby mode and/or have a display light. According to the editors of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Living Green 365 newsletter, energy vampires can account for…

The Energy Field of Nate Hagens

After a decade living the “high life” as a Wall Street trader, in 2003 Nate Hagens left to become a professional hiker and student, and now enjoys living the “low life” with his dogs on a farm in Wisconsin, collaborating with people like one of the early Greenpeace strategists, and teaching an interdisciplinary honors course at the…

Forum: Do Appearances Matter in Minneapolis Parks?

A related overview of our conversation of Sustainable We forum #1 focuses on the politics of pesticides — how are they regulated federally, enforced locally? Another article to come will look at why the Minneapolis Park Board allows them in some cases, and what the Park Board might be considering as revised policy. We also talked at length about how…

The Passive House Standards

Timothy Eian, TE Studio

  This is Part 3 in a conversation with home designer Tim Eian of TE Studio in Northeast Minneapolis. See Part 1, about home renovations, here. See Part 2, about ice dam and mold issues, here. Q: What are the Best Practices that you recommend for Minnesota buildings? I have been here in Minneapolis for 15…

Sustainable We: A Conversation

Kennedy-Nixon Debate 1960

As I noted in last month’s introductory “Sustainable We” column for the Southwest Journal, “We are better served by having the educated, aware, thoughtful and passionate individuals we have in Minneapolis who want to do the right thing in a better way than we are now.” But… what do we do when views clash about what our future should be?…

Designed for the Future: A Sampler

Lions Park Playscape

One of the books I discovered this year is Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World, by Jared Green (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015). He talked to more than 80 architects, urban planners, landscape architects, journalists, artists and environmental leaders, and asked them the same question: “What gives you hope that a sustainable future is…

Q&A: Architect Ron Fergle on Sustainable Materials

Action to address climate change started happening in some areas of the U.S. roughly 20 years ago. Certain businesses started to adapt their spaces, and build more efficient ones, recognizing serious long-term cost savings. Now, gradually, residential homeowners are beginning to recreate with sustainability in mind. The trick for a Minneapolis homeowner – whether pursuing…

YOUTH: Cool Ideas to Reuse Garbage

Garbage by Type (EPA)

by Dylan Morrissette, entering 6th grade, Anthony Middle School Did you know that with just newspaper, rolled up paper bags and special glue I made a wolf head, thanks to the May Day workshops put on by The Heart of the Beast? I’ve also been a spider and a Chinese dragon. My sister has been a bird…

School Costs: Energy Use and Air Quality

Southwest High School, Minneapolis, under construction

School costs for energy are second only to personnel costs as the leading draw on K-12 school district operating budgets. Schools spend approximately $75 per student on gas bills and $130 per student on electricity each year… By implementing energy efficiency measures, many K-12 schools have been able to reduce energy costs by as much…