Minneapolis homes part of the world’s largest solar energy event Oct. 3

Minneapolis residents will join more than 150,000 people across the U.S. touring more than 5,000 homes, businesses and schools to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency. Solar Tour participants will open up their homes and businesses to the public in the 14th annual American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) National Solar Tour.

Twelve of these properties are in Minneapolis, and more than 50 are expected in Minnesota. The free tour is an opportunity to learn about solar energy and energy efficiency; it showcases how solar energy and other forms of renewable energy can be used to drastically reduce monthly energy bills, reduce harmful carbon emissions, and tap tax credits and cash incentives while improving property values.

The free self-guided website.

The state has $3.4 million for solar energy rebates for the biennium, according to the Minnesota Office of Energy Security. Minnesotans who install solar energy systems may also be eligible forfederal and utility incentives. The www.dsireusa.org .

The Minnesota Solar Tour is sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) has been leading the renewable energy revolution to advance the use of solar and renewable energy. ASES leads national efforts to promote solar energy education, public outreach and advocacy.

To develop a strategic plan to make solar energy more accessible for homes and businesses by the year 2015, Minneapolis and Saint Paul have been selected as part of the Solar America Initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are partnering with local organizations to help mainstream solar in the coming decade and will implement many projects during the next two years.

Minneapolis is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the country. City government is leading by example and taking advantage of the benefits of being green. Currently three City buildings have solar photovoltaic systems, and the City plans to add a large-scale solar photovoltaic project at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The City-owned Target Center and City Hall have green roofs. The City has also adopted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards, which require new or significantly renovated City facilities to meet some of the highest standards for sustainability in their planning, design, construction and commissioning. A new ordinance limits vehicle idling in the city to reduce emissions. The City's innovative stormwater utility program has dramatically increased the use of rain gardens and other effective practices to protect our lakes from stormwater runoff. Minneapolis has also created a unique program to provide microgrants to community organizations to support their efforts to fight climate change and save money.

Since Minneapolis sustainability initiative was launched in 2003, City leaders have developed a series of 26 indicators, including renewable energy, air quality, biking, green jobs and our tree canopy. Each indicator includes specific numeric targets that serve as goals for Minneapolis to reach in the coming years..

Published Oct. 1, 2009