In 2021, the “new normal” that the COVID-19 pandemic placed on CEE and energy efficiency work became, well, a little more normal.
CEE adjusted and found that with a passionate staff and innovative approaches to programming, we could continue delivering high-quality energy efficiency services, products, and support while prioritizing everyone’s health and safety. This last year turned out to be one of progress for CEE, from our support to help pass Minnesota’s ECO Act to expanded community outreach and exciting new staff additions.
As CEE reflects on this progress and how it will inform our future, we compiled some of our favorite blog posts from 2021.
Community reinvigorated through sustainability and energy efficiency
Leadership of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians were looking not only for comfort when commissioning the Mino-bimaadiziwin apartment complex, but also for housing that encompasses the tribe’s heritage of sustainability and togetherness. In partnership with Loeffler Construction and Consulting, Landon Group, and Cuningham Architects, CEE joined this project to bring comfort and sustainability through energy efficiency and to ensure that this building marks the beginning of a long-lasting and sustainable home for members of the Tribe.
2021 MN Legislature: ECO Act passes thanks to hard work, collaboration
After six years of hard work and deep bipartisan collaboration, the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (known as "ECO") was approved in both houses and will now be signed into law. As designed, ECO will protect all the end-use energy efficiency work of the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) that has already saved Minnesotans $6 billion over the years. Building on CIP's successes, ECO now adds opportunities to leverage energy demand as a more active and significant part of our state's clean energy transition, opening doors to a greater range of fuel choices and more opportunities to benefit from energy use timed to align with periods of lower demand on our energy grid.
The Twin Histories of CEE
Center for Energy and Environment’s history is a tale of two cities. CEE’s roots trace to twin beginnings — one as the Energy Office of Minneapolis in 1979 and the other as a consortium of St. Paul neighborhood organizations in the mid-1980s. After years of collaboration, CEE and NEC merged into a single energy nonprofit in 2017 under the shared name Center for Energy and Environment. Over the decades, CEE and NEC have collectively served more than 50,000 residential customers through programs such as the Home Energy Squad, Community Energy Services, Neighborhood Energy Workshops, Operation Insulation, the Low-Income Weatherization Program, and the Multifamily Assessment Program. Today, CEE annually loans more than $18 million through 1,100 distinct home improvement loans and operates in 32 Midwest cities and 24 Twin Cities neighborhoods to improve residential properties.
Efficient engineering supports community healing and connection
The Rondo neighborhood started as a thriving community of Black residents and culture throughout the 20th century and acted as the community’s economic, cultural, civic, and spiritual center. In the 1960s, it was cut in half by the construction of Interstate-94 between downtown Saint Paul and Minneapolis. This development displaced many community members and deteriorated much of the community wealth that had previously thrived. CEE recently helped support the Rondo Center of Diverse Expression to increase its building energy efficiency and comfort, with valuable opportunities along the way to learn more about the St. Paul neighborhood’s history of heartache and perseverance.