Lao Family Center Saves 15 Percent on Energy Bills

Energy Makeover and Education Help Nonprofit Save Energy and Money for Years to Come
Oct 12, 2011 11:00 AM ET
Campaign: Energy Makeover

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) October 12, 2011 - Lao Family Community of St. Paul will save $3,100 each year in energy bills thanks to an energy efficiency makeover from Xcel Energy and Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT), according to a Sept. 21 company news release. That translates to 15 percent savings annually.

The results were announced at a media event at the center on Sept. 21.

The program began a year ago with an energy assessment that identified various conservation measures to be implemented. The project included the installation of:

• Programmable thermostats to regulate heating and cooling
• High efficiency light-emitting-diode (LED) lighting
• High efficiency windows in the community room
• Power factor correction unit to reduce charges associated with inefficient uses of power
• Low-cost fixes: weather stripping, caulking, reducing water temperature, insulating water pipes, installing faucet aerators and moving the only person working on the second floor to the first floor to conserve heat

“We are so grateful to all of the community partners who donated time and materials to make this happen,” said Long X. Yang, Lao Family executive director. “The money we are now saving will be used to further our mission of serving the refugee and immigrant communities.”

In addition to the efficiency measures implemented to the building, an energy-efficiency workshop educated the center’s employees about energy conservation, recycling and waste reduction. Staff is now able to spread that information to Lao Family clients.
Metro CERT and Xcel Energy lead this effort to show the nonprofit segment that energy efficiency is achievable and worth the investment since capital costs are often recouped in energy savings over a short period of time.  Implementing energy conservation measures reduces operating costs and those savings can be used.

Lao Family Community also lies within the Energy Innovation Corridor, a first-of-its-kind, clean energy and transportation model that extends along the 11-mile Central Corridor light rail transit project route, from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis. Many energy efficiency projects and sustainable efforts are in the works within this community.

“The Energy Innovation Corridor is the perfect proving ground for efforts like this," said John Marshall, Xcel Energy manager of community and local government relations.  "This is a prime example of how energy efficiency lends itself to improved quality of life for the community and we encourage nonprofits, residents and businesses to see how they can save money and energy, too."

Lao Family Community of Minnesota is a non-profit founded in 1977 dedicated to the well-being of the Hmong community in Minnesota.  They offer bilingual and bicultural services. The building is 70 years old and has undergone some significant energy related retrofits, including the installation of more energy efficient lighting (T-8) and a conversion from steam heating to a forced air system. The energy makeover and subsequent improvements will help the center save energy and money for years to come.

Support for the project comes from many other community partners who are donating time or materials, including:

• Andersen Windows - donated windows for resource center
• Flannery Construction - installed windows
• Staco Energy - donated power factor correction unit
• Bavolak Electricity - installed power factor correction unit
• Owens Companies - reviewed heating systems and thermostats
• Honeywell - donated programmable thermostats
• Bruce Arnold Mechanical - installed programmable thermostats
• Energy Misers LLC - obtained LED lighting donation from Toshiba
• Eureka Recycling – provided recycling/composting assessment and community education