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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.”
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 headquarters facility is one of the most energy-efficient and sustainable buildings in Minnesota. It is part of our promise to practice, as well as promote, energy conservation. Our building is a showcase of the latest in energy efficiency and sustainable features.
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.
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 Bismarck location opened in the summer of 2008 and was awarded Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building incorporates many of the same efficiencies as the Maple Grove building, as well some unique features.
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.