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CERTS grant awarded to City of Rochester Parks & Recreation for the Quarry Hill Nature Center Prairie House

Post Date:01/07/2020 11:26 AM

The City of Rochester Parks & Recreation Department has received $910 in grant money from Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) to help transition the Prairie House Education Building operated by the Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center into a net zero carbon facility.

Built in 2018, the Prairie House at Quarry Hill Park was created with partnership funding from the Greater MN Regional Parks and Trails Commission Legacy Grant, the City of Rochester Parks & Recreation and the Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center, as a model for building design and operations. It serves as a classroom for groups of all ages and demonstrates to the community the many possibilities that exist for energy efficient and renewable energy use in buildings.

“With a high profile and strong community connection, this project will serve as a model for other buildings in the region, providing a forum for community education on the benefits of renewable energy,” said Kevin Bright, Director of Energy and Sustainability for Destination Medical Center and the City of Rochester.

The Prairie House utilizes off grid efficient wood pellets and passive solar for heating and a solar panel array for meeting electrical needs. During its first year of operation, the Prairie House solar array produced 8.8 MWh (megawatt hours) – nearly double the buildings consumption - of clean energy. However, without battery storage, the facility was unable to store and use this excess energy. For evening operations, the building relied upon the normal electrical grid as a backup.  This grant will provide the funds for battery installation which will enable storage of all electric needs on-site, making this commercial building one of – if not the first – battery-based system of this nature in Rochester. The battery installation will take place yet this month by local business, Solar Connection, followed by educational programming and outreach at Prairie House throughout the summer 2020.

Together, the Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center and the City of Rochester will cover the balance of battery installation project costs, totaling $7,110.

“Quarry Hill Nature Center is the cornerstone for environmental education in Rochester and surrounding communities; this project enables us to further demonstrate commitment to the vision and mission as a community role model for environmental responsibility,” said Pamela Meyer, Executive Director of Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center.