Cottage Grove explores solar as part of municipal building energy efficiency upgradesAs construction crews near completion of the city of Cottage Grove’s new, more efficient city hall and public safety building this fall, city officials are seeking ways to cut energy costs at older municipal buildings.
As construction crews near completion of the city of Cottage Grove’s new, more efficient city hall and public safety building this fall, city officials are seeking ways to cut energy costs at older municipal buildings.
Officials are in the early stages of considering installing solar panels at three existing city facilities: the current city hall, which is slated to house a number of start-up businesses when city staff and the police department vacate it in October; the Cottage Grove Ice Arena; and the city’s public works building.
“Right now, we’re in the very beginning stages of understanding the benefit-cost analysis,” City Engineer Jennifer Levitt said recently. The cost to the city isn’t yet known, she said, but the payoff to the city would need to occur within six to 10 years for it to make sense to pursue.
In May, city officials and Environmental Commission members visited 3M Cottage Grove to tour the plant’s Solar Weather Center, where researchers are testing films intended to make solar panels work more efficiently. Levitt said technology like that could make retro-fitting city buildings more cost-efficient.
Roughly 3.5 miles away from the city’s current home, the new 68,000-square-foot city hall under construction on Ravine Parkway is being built with sustainability in mind from the start, with a more efficient heating and cooling system and higher energy-rated windows and other building materials.
“We’ve made a large investment to be sustainable,” Levitt said.
Maybe the most impressive green feature of the new building, however, is the stormwater collection system being installed on the grounds of the new building. Similar to a system at the Minnesota Twins’ two-year-old, LEED efficiency-certified Target Field in Minneapolis, the rain harvester will collect rainwater runoff in an underground tank.
From there, the collected water will be filtered twice and then used to irrigate lawn and landscaping around the new building.
“Clearly, any water we don’t have to pull from the aquifer to irrigate the site is a good thing,” Levitt said.