Leading by example
At Great River Energy (GRETM) we encourage the wise use of energy through conservation and energy efficiency. We know the cheapest – and cleanest – kilowatt-hour is the one we don’t have to produce. So conservation and energy efficiency have become our “first fuel.” You can read more about these efforts in our Saving Electricity section.
Because our customer base is largely residential, one of the best places to practice energy efficiency and conservation is in building construction. The more efficiently we build new homes and businesses, the less energy they use and the longer we can delay building expensive new power plants.
And because we’re a utility that believes in taking its own advice, we decided to set an example.
Our Platinum LEED-certified Maple Grove, Minnesota building
The Great River Energy headquarters facility is one of the most energy-efficient and sustainable buildings in the state. It is part of our promise to practice, as well as promote, energy conservation in Minnesota. Our building is a showcase of the latest in energy efficiency and sustainable features and provides an excellent learning opportunity for anyone interested in energy efficiency and conservation. It showcases and demonstrates the latest energy-efficient products and environmentally friendly construction techniques.
The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Great River Energy headquarters building Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The award is the highest designation available to buildings that demonstrate energy efficiency and sustainability. The building was the first in Minnesota to achieve the distinction.
Of course it has fluorescent and LED lighting throughout. But it also features (among other things) rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, its own wind turbine, a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system and multiple atriums to let us harvest maximum daylight. We even capture rainwater to use for flushing toilets and irrigation. Learn more about the building by watching this video.
Our building reduces energy consumption by 40 to 50 percent and reduces water usage by 66 percent, compared to traditional office building campuses. It produces enough renewable energy on site to supply up to 15 percent of the building’s own energy needs. We’ve even earned the ENERGY STAR label from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Our Gold LEED-certified Bismarck, North Dakota building
Our Bismarck location opened in the summer of 2008 and allows the company to better service the growing business ventures and operations in North Dakota. The building incorporates many of the same efficiencies as the Maple Grove building, as well some unique features.
This facility was awarded Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The parking lot encourages the use of multi-passenger and fuel efficient vehicles. Bicycle racks and shower facilities accommodate cleaner transportation alternatives. Native plantings reduce the need for landscape irrigation.
The building boasts a concrete paving surface and reflective, white roof that absorbs less solar heat, thereby lowering the amount of energy used for cooling. It also features high efficiency geothermal heat pumps and total energy recovery wheels that reduce the energy needed to heat and cool the building. The building indirectly uses 100 percent green power by purchasing electricity credits from renewable energy providers, such as wind farms.
Our LEED-certified Big Lake, Minnesota facility
Great River Energy’s Big Lake service center is a 41,500-square-foot facility, which opened in May 2008. The building features several energy efficient features, including geothermal heating and cooling. In addition, 34 percent of building materials came from recycled sources, and 24 percent were manufactured locally.
LEED certification is awarded based on a point system; the Big Lake service center received 29 LEED points – three more than are needed to achieve LEED certification. A significant amount of the points were awarded in the “Optimize Energy Performance” category, largely as a result of efficient heating and cooling.
The facility uses a heat recovery system to recycle heat rather than exhaust it from the building. The geothermal system uses the relatively constant underground temperature to both heat and cool the space. The vehicle areas and perimeter office space are heated with in-floor radiant heat from the geothermal heat pump.
Our LEED-certified Elk River, Minnesota facility
Great River Energy’s “High Bay” addition to its Elk River, Minnesota campus was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in early 2011 by the U.S. Green Building Council. The 44,171 -square-foot facility is used by transmission employees to work on maintenance projects and for vehicle storage.
The addition features geothermal heating and cooling as well as energy efficient lighting systems and controls. In addition, the facility was constructed with recycled and regionally produced materials and 75 percent of construction materials were diverted from the landfill.
LEED certification is awarded based on a point system; the Elk River addition received 28 LEED points. Many of the points were awarded in the “Energy & Atmosphere” category, largely as a result of efficient heating and cooling.
Great River Energy encourages its employees to commute in an eco-friendly manner. As such, the Elk River facility offers bike racks and changing rooms for bike-commuters.
Great River Energy’s Grand Rapids, Minnesota and Wadena, Minnesota transmission outpost facilities are also LEED certified.