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Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center - Deep Energy Retrofit

Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center - Deep Energy Retrofit

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Eagle Bluff, a non-profit residential environmental learning center has completed a Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit on our oldest, most energy inefficient building:  the Eagle Bluff residence. The goal of the project was to reduce the overall energy consumption of the residence by more than 70% and to offset all the remaining energy use for its operation to achieve carbon neutrality.  Because the residence is an early 1970’s stick framed 1-1/2 story detached single family home-perhaps like yours - imagine your own energy savings if you followed this path.

A Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit (DERR) is described by Affordable Comfort, Inc. as “a comprehensive sustainable building improvement that offers significantly reduced environmental impact and energy impact while enhancing comfort, indoor environmental quality and durability.”

Nationally, it is estimated that over 60% of existing residential structures can be upgraded with a Deep Energy Reduction Retrofit.  It depends on the condition and performance of the existing building that is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The energy savings at the Eagle Bluff residence will be monitored and displayed for demonstration and learning purposes.  Eagle Bluff will use the project as a significant part of our curriculum for both students at the learning center as well as the community at large.

During the retrofit, we also focused on food sustainability. While most energy efficient homes usually have visually pleasing kitchens that are not designed for food sustainability, we created a sustainable working facility that includes space for food preparation, preservation, storage and utilization.  We believe this is an important component in a sustainable, energy-efficient home.








General Information:

The project design team, including a diverse group of consultants, completed a rigorous design process that included elements to seal the building envelope as tight as possible, the use of state-of-the-art insulation, installing a whole house air handling system with an environmental recovery unit, adding solar thermal hot water and photovoltaics, the addition of recycled glass countertops and reclaimed materials and using local resources when appropriate.  LED lights were used whenever possible and cfls or halogen lights were used everywhere else.  All features will be monitored for interpretation on the web.


Insulation Goal – R50: 

Six inches of XPS (extruded polystyrene) were added on the basement level and below ground

·         Six inches of polyisocyanurate (PIC) were installed above ground

·         Vaulted ceiling R value Goal = R70

o   PIC foam was added in the attic and between the vaulted ceiling roof trusses

o   One inch air channel between roof deck and foam

o   One inch of rigid PIC for thermal break between roof trusses and the sheetrock 

Windows and Doors - Goal – R8:

Loewen triple pane windows (R7.9) and double pane doors

o   U = 0.25 North and East  

o   U = 0.19 West  and South

·         Elimination of 7 sliding glass doors, one North facing door and window and two large Northeast facing windows

·         Addition of two windows to the South 

·         Minimization of the overhang to allow for passive solar gains.

·         Motorized upper windows for venting

Siding Goal – Minimal Maintenance, Durability, Recyclability and Woodpecker Proof

·         Nichiha cement fiber board siding was used on all exposed exterior basement walls

·         Fabral metal siding was used on all other exterior surfaces to provide a challenge for the woodpeckers.


Solar Thermal - Goal – Domestic Hot Water and Building Heat Supplement:

·         200 sq ft of Heliodyne collectors, a Resol controller, a 400 gallon storage tank and the in place hydronic heating system. 

o   Heliodyne collectors have a blue sputtered coating (tinox) that has a 20% better performance rating in cold weather. 

·         The system was designed and installed by the Century Community College, Solar Thermal class, Todd Fink, Instructor out of White Bear Lake, MN working in cooperation with Bill Butler of the Energy Independence Group.

Solar Photovoltaic – Bring the house as close to carbon neutral as possible – use green energy to offset former fossil fuels.

·         A 5.64 kw system was installed by Winona Renewable Energy and brought on-line (grid tied) on May 31st.

·         Data from the Enphase Monitoring system will become available on our website Fall, 2011.

·         When tied with the solar thermal system, should provide green heat and power for the house.


Flooring Goal - Utilization of Locally Grown and Sustainably Harvested Hardwoods:

·         Select and Better, multi-width and length, hard maple flooring

·         Locally grown, harvested and processed.

Pantry - Goal – Encourage Sustainable Food Production, Storage and Utilization

·         Shelves are made from reclaimed lumber obtained from a grainery that was used for five generations by the director’s family.

·         Storage for all canned goods, cooking supplies and utensils

Water - Goal – Minimize Water Usage

·         Low flow showerheads and dual flush toilets were added 

·         Rain barrels and rain gardens will be used to control and utilize roof runoff water.

Funding Sources:  principal funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), as recommended by the Legislative Citizen’s Commission on Minnesota’s Resources (LCCMR) demonstrating sustainable energy practices at the state’s six residential environmental learning centers and turning them into regional educational sites.

A Green Design Grant from the Beim Foundation, Eagle Bluff 2010/Aurora funds and the ENRTF provided financial support to cover the costs of project consultants.


Sponsors provided demonstration products, in-kind donations, product discounts or cash donations. 

This deep energy reduction retrofit was the result of a team effort from the consultants, sponsors and vendors listed below.  It could not have been accomplished without their support and guidance.  We appreciate their contributions to our building’s sustainability.  We strive to encourage others to adopt similar practices!

System Components
solar electric solar hot water passive solar sustainable living

Builders:  Jeff Vilen, Jeff Vilen Construction, Zumbro Falls, MN

                                Joe Yennie, Pine Island, MN

                                Tom McNamara, Zumbrota, MN

                                Scott Stacy, Pine Island, MN

Building Supplies: ProBuild, Rochester, MN

Cabinets: Eli Swartzentruber, Canton, MN

Counter Tops: recycled glass, Eco Countertops, Eric Wills, Stone Systems, Mpls, MN

Energy Audit: Joe Gibbons, The Because Group, Rochester, MN

                Thermal Imaging and Blower Door Tests

Heating and Air Conditioning: Winona Heating & Venting, Co, (WHV), Winona, MN

                Alan Leisen, WHV, Engineer

                Jeff Demorest , WHV, Installer

                Steve Scott, WHV, Service Technician

Electrical: Community Electric, Dan Anderson, Lanesboro, MN

Flooring:  Select and Better Maple, Upper IA Millworks, Allan Gingerich, Cresco, IA

Installation: Jacob and Joseph Hershberger, Canton, MN

Finishing: Classic Carpets and Interiors, Kurt Bill, LeRoy, MN

Insulation: Dave’s Insulation, Kasson, MN

Lighting: Bright Ideas, Dave Sorenson, Rochester, MN

                LED Geobulbs and PowerVivid floodlights, Lisa Wilson, CCrane Co, Fortuna, CA

                Dining Room Pendants, hand blown by Laremy Ellsworth, St Charles, MN

Paint: Low VOCs, Home Depot and Behr Paints, Rochester, MN

Painter:  Good Job Painting, Eric Gehrke, Lanesboro, MN

Radon Abatement: Jeff Engen, Radon Mitigation Services, Mabel, MN

Rain Gardens: Haugstad Construction, Fountain, MN

Siding:  1) Nichiha Cement Fiber Board Siding, Norandex, Rochester, MN

2) Fabral Steel Siding, Brian Jorgenson, Cleary Building Corp, Kasson, MN

Solar Photovoltaics: 5.6 kw system, Tim Gulden, Winona Renewable Energy, Winona, MN

Solar Thermal: 1) Energy Independence Group, Bill Butler, Mpls, MN &

2) Century College Solar Thermal Class, Todd Fink, Instructor, White Bear Lake, MN

Solar panels used:  Heliodyne panels with a Resol Controller

Table and Chairs: Harmony Cabinet Shop, Eli Hershberger, Harmony, MN

Windows and Doors: Loewen Windows, Synergy Products, Jeff Gove, Rochester, MN

Additional Measures

Project Consultants:

Ron  Kirk, Architectural Consultant, Kirk Project Management,  Roseville, MN

Tim Eian, Passive House Architect, TE Studio Limited, Minneapolis, MN

Mike LeBeau, Solar Thermal Consultant, Conservation Technologies, Duluth, MN

Pat O’Malley, Building Envelope Consultant, Building Knowledge , Minneapolis, MN





DERR Sponsors:

Jeff Vilen Construction, WHV, Kirk Project Management, Community Electric, Loewen Windows, ProBuild – Rochester  and Corporate,  Century Community College, Solar Thermal Class, Home Depot and Behr Paints, Classic Carpets and Interiors, Eco Countertops, CCrane Co., Bright Ideas, Rochester

Design Team:

                Ron Kirk, Architectural Consultant, Kirk Project Management, Roseville, MN

                Jeff Vilen, Builder, Jeff Vilen Construction, Zumbro Falls, MN

                Joe Yennie, Builder, Jeff Vilen Construction, Pine Island, MN

                Ray Schmitz*, Energy Enthusiast/CERTS, Rochester, MN

                Bob Ashton*, Builder, Stone Bridge Builders, Rochester, MN

                Christian Milaster*, The Because Group, Lanesboro, MN

                Kevin Schreurs*, Energy Enthusiast, Rochester, MN

                Doc Schoepski, Director of Operations, Eagle Bluff

                Darin Johnson, Operations Manager, Eagle Bluff

                Joe Deden & Mary Bell, house residents, Eagle Bluff

*Eagle Bluff Board members

Percentage of Total Energy Needs Delivered:

Solar thermal should heat the house.  Solar pv should provide power needed.  Data is being collected.  Stay tuned.