Research & Publications
Ecolibrium3 works with multiple partners and research institutions to advance best practices and knowledge in energy, community development, and resilience. Our work has ranged from local research to development of national toolkits, community guides, and case studies.
Research by UMD's Bureau of Business and Economic Research was conducted to explore market interest in energy efficiency by students and landlords. The project included understanding the existing housing stock in Duluth, analyzing the energy intensity of rental properties, and conducting focus groups and surveys of students and landlords. Research was completed in partnership with Ecolibrium3, UMD's Office of Sustainability, and UMD's Geospatial Analysis Center with funding provided by Wells Fargo Bank through the Carlson School of Management.
Ecolibrium3, along with the City of Duluth, and Duluth Local Initiatives Support Corporation worked with the Urban Land Institutes Advisory Services to conduct a national resilience panel focused on the Miller Creek watershed and Lincoln Park with funding from the Kresge Foundation. The final report was the result of a five-day intensive panel that included an in-depth briefing, tours, sponsor meetings, 92 interviews of local stakeholders, and long nights of discussion by panel experts. A framing of the resilience challenges faced in the study area and integrated solutions are available in the report.
Ecolibrium3 engaged the Rocky Mountain Institute to facilitate Duluth's Energy Futures Charrette held in February of 2015 with dozen of community leaders representing the City, businesses, utilities, transportation, the university, and housing. Discussion of creating a specific Duluth blueprint for energy transition morphed during the process into creation of a national guide to assist communities in developing actionable plans. RMI published the Community Energy Resource Guide in December of 2015 based upon their engagement in Duluth and other communities.
As a follow up to the Duluth Energy Futures Charrette hosted by Ecolibrium3 in February of 2015, the University of Minnesota's Energy Transition Lab, along with numerous partners and UMD's Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BERR), conducted research on the economic impact of local energy generation and biomass-use projects. It was determined that the biomass related projects could support nearly 1,600 jobs in the eight-county region, an additional $83 million in labor income, and would contribute roughly $154 million in value-added spending to the region's Gross Regional Product (GRP). Studied solar projects would contribute another $2 million in wages and $2.2 million toward the GRP.
Ecolibrium3 is participating in the US Department of Energy's Solar Market Pathways program as one of 14 awardees. Solar Market Pathways is part of the DOE's SunShot initiative to make solar energy a competitive resource for residents, businesses, and communities. Ecolibrium3's Local Energy Matters project works to advance solar deployment in the City of Duluth, MN- a cold-climate community of 86,000 with minimal existing solar development. The focus of the landscape analysis report was conducting a baseline of current conditions and establishment of solar market advancement recommendations to inform strategies and implementation efforts during the 3-year Solar Market Pathways award period.
Ecolibrium3's CEO Jodi Slick, lead the City of Duluth's participation in Portland Statue University's Urban Sustainability Accelerator Program. During 2014-2015, a team representing the City, the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Ever-Green Energy participated in training and planning sessions to advance the energy transition in Duluth. Work included an analysis of legal and programmatic context for community solar in Minnesota, rebranding assistance for Duluth's district heat system from Duluth Steam to Duluth Energy Systems, and neighborhood revitalization assistance. This white paper was written Anthony Levenda, a PSU doctoral student.
Prior to launch of Ecolibrium3's Local Energy Matters, a Solar Market Pathways project, Duluth had minimal solar installation and relatively high solar soft costs. The focus of this report was establishing a baseline analysis of installed solar capacity by sector, installed cost history, financing tools used, project phase timing, and barrier analysis to identify areas of opportunity for solar cost reduction, market needs, and best areas of future focus for advancing Duluth's solar market.