Conservation Chronicle

News, Information, Events                                Fall 2014                                           B. Bluhm Editor

Duluth Enters Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition

In 2015 & 2016, Duluth will be competing against 50 other communities to reduce the amount of natural gas and electricity it uses in the residential and municipal sectors as part of the Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition. The 5 million dollar Energy Prize was created to spur enthusiasm and innovation in communities toward solving the “stuck” problem of energy efficiency.

Blower Door

“This is an amazing opportunity for the community to work together to accomplish something big.” Says Jodi Slick, CEO of Ecolibrium3 and Duluth’s Prize project manager. “We are calling Duluth’s entry the ‘$5 Million and Change’ project because changing our energy use will pay dividends every year.” A reduction of just 6% of our residential energy use will save residents $5 million annually.

The next step in the competition is submission of Duluth’s Energy Prize Plan—help develop strategies and give input on how Duluth should use the prize money. Learn more about Duluth’s energy use, actions you can take, and the Prize competition at the IKES October 1st meeting.

McCabe Chapter President’s Message

Summer has passed swiftly like it always does.  Our chapter takes a break from Board meetings and programs during summer, but that doesn’t mean that we’re doing nothing.  In fact, many members have been busy with Ikes’ activities.  Here is a list of just some of the work they’ve been doing this summer:
  1. Attended public information meetings held by the St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation Districts about water quality monitoring in the St. Louis River watershed.
  2. Testified at Public Hearing on 22,000 acre Sax-Zim Bog Trust Fund land exchange.
  3. Worked with St. Louis River Alliance to hold a walking tour and discussion of restoration work the city of Duluth is doing on Chester Creek – over 40 people attended.
  4. Participated in conference calls with Minnesota Environmental Partnership to plan the St. Louis River Mercury Citizens’ Forum which will be held in Duluth on September 18th.
  5. Testified at City Council meeting for approval of revised Hartley Park mini-master plan.
  6. Attended meetings with the Director of Hartley Nature Center and neighbors of the park concerning ways to help with management of Hartley Park.
  7. The chapter’s Transition Team met to brainstorm about ways to grow our membership.
  8. We joined the Save the Boundary Waters Coalition and participated in conference call with member groups.
  9. Participated in conference calls and attended a meeting with BWSR in St. Paul concerning options to protect and strengthen the Wetland Conservation Act.
  10. Held the Fall Youth Outdoor Expo at the Duluth Retriever Club with about 90 youth and adults attending.
  11. One member was a speaker and others manned a display table at the North Country Trail Association Celebration at Spirit Mountain.
  12. The Conservation Issues Committee met to review upcoming issues of concern.
So there are 12 good reasons to be a member of our chapter, which never rests even during our short summers!  You can see that there is a lot to do.  We need more of our membership to help with these efforts.   The more active members we have, the more we can do to further conservation and benefit the outdoors!  This year we are planning to give more emphasis to sustainable living initiatives and to growing our membership.  We’ll also continue working on the many conservation issues that need attention.

I look forward to seeing you at our program meetings and other activities this fall!

Rich Staffon, President

W.J. McCabe Chapter Izaak Walton League

Home Energy Audit Results in Energy Savings

By DyAnn Andybur, Energy Coordinator City of Duluth and McCabe Chapter Sustainability Committee Member

In 2013-2014 heating costs really jumped mid-winter, didn’t they?  I wonder what natural gas will cost this year?  My overall winter bill would have been even higher last year for my small home in Lakeside if the old forced air furnace was still heating the place.

Fortunately, in 2012, the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program (DEEP) offered an energy assessment and a special incentive for energy efficiency improvements.  In mid-year, I signed up to have a DEEP home performance energy assessment of my house.  The audit included a blower door test and an infrared camera scan of several areas in my home.  These tests help to identify  where  warm air was escaping because of places that lacked insulation or places that were poorly sealed or had no weather sealing at all!

The 12-page home performance report arrived a few days later.  It listed 7 prioritized improvements, an estimated installed cost, and average annual energy cost savings.  The largest single recommendation in terms of investment cost and annual savings was to replace the old 60% efficient furnace with a 95% efficient furnace with an Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM) to further reduce the running cost.  The annual energy cost savings estimate was simply too much to ignore.

Upon my request, DEEP staff arranged for several qualified furnace suppliers and installers to submit furnace and installation bids.  After carefully reviewing all of the proposals, I took the most important step and had the new efficient furnace installed before the start of the 2012 heating season. 

I think this graph shows the dramatic reduction in natural gas use at this little house starting in 2012.   Energy use was 30% lower in Jan-Dec. 2013 than the peak year, Jan-Dec. 2011. The 245 fewer units of gas saved as much as $370, based on the price spike last winter.  That was more than enough to pay for my snow bird flight to the East Coast to visit my daughter in April.  Next year when she is living in Hawaii, I’ll use my gas bill savings to pay for another flight!  This time to paradise.

Conservation Issues Committee Update

By Dave Zentner and Craig Sterle

McCabe Chapter Conservation Issues Committee is a very busy part of our Chapter.  This committee is the key to processing our McCabe conservation priorities, and in organizing those priorities in our best efforts to be effective advocates for matters of importance to our members.  Our Chapter often is the lead chapter in MN on issues that are particularly applicable to NE MN, or on issues where members of the McCabe Chapter have deep interest and some expertise.

Conservation Issues is a big committee.  With between 15-20 members in a given year, the committee is organized to some extent by subject.  In several areas we look to a sub-committee within C.I. to lead our efforts.  Examples of this include mining, Park Point issues, wildlife issues, cold water fisheries and watersheds, parks and trails, and environment & public policy in general.

Our purpose as a Chapter is to energetically serve the Izaak Walton League mission as defenders of air, wildlife, lands and waters.  We are proud of the many contributions members of this committee have made locally, regionally and even statewide and nationally! 

Would you like to know more? 

Call Dave Zentner at 724-3926 or Craig Sterle at 384-4054.  Your inquiry will be very welcome!  Our Conservation Issues Committee is always looking for new members.