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Big Energy Conservation Push in Eden Prairie

Posted at: 07/26/2013 4:33 PM
Updated at: 07/26/2013 10:40 PM
By: Beth McDonough

We pride ourselves on being environmentally friendly in Minnesota.

Many of us find ways to conserve energy in our homes.  But on a larger scale, cities are doing it too.  Especially in Eden Prairie right now.  There's a major push to become efficient.

City Hall is so large, it's actually called City Center.  The public building is used by more residents in town, than any other.  And the big building is a big energy hog.

The EPA estimates a third of the power used to run a government building goes to waste.  Which is why the City is committed to conservation, "If we can reduce our operating costs that's money saved for everybody," says Robert Ellis, the Public Works Director.

The plan is called:  20-40-15.  The idea is to boost efficiency in two areas: buildings by 20% and fuel by 40%, all of this by the year 2015.

So far, Eden Prairie switched out two SUV's for two electric cars. Terry Enstadt is an inspector.  It's his job to drive around town and check out facilities, "I haven't used any gas since I received it two weeks ago."

The City also reduced its fleet of cars by 10 and limited the time people can idle in city vehicles.  That's outside City Hall.  Inside, there's more.  Just walk in a meeting room and you'll notice motion sensors control the lights.  There are sensors above vending machines, even in bathrooms.  That's to make sure lights are on only when needed, not all the time, "We've saved approximately $200,000 a year doing improvements to our buildings on energy used," according to Ellis.

LED's light up City Hall these days, not old traditional fluorescent lights.  LED's use 90% less energy.  City leaders are hoping what started here, spreads to the entire community.  Call it conservation by example.  It's worked with resident Ken Atkinson.  He's an LED believer, "I use them all the time at home, I've already switched over and I can see the difference in savings."

Next year, Eden Prairie is looking at installing solar panels at the community center.  57 cities in the state are committed to becoming greener.  It's part of Green Step Cities, a voluntary effort.  Communities follow a checklist involving ways to become more efficient in five areas:  buildings and lighting, land use, transportation, environmental management and economic and community development.