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Prairie House transitions to net zero carbon facility

KAAL-TV
Created: January 13, 2020 07:32 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS)--Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester has long been a family favorite for outdoor activities and educational programming. 

"The Prairie House is our newest classroom and building space for us here at the nature center. It's a place for us to do our environmental education programs,” said Executive Director of Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center Pam Meyer.
 
The Prairie House was built in 2018 with a bio-fuel furnace system and solar panels. 
 
"From the very beginning when we said we're going to move ahead with this new classroom, let's do it and be an example for the community of how we can be environmentally friendly," she said. 
 
Public Relations and Outreach coordinator Lori Forstie said they monitor both the building’s energy consumption and the amount of solar energy produced.
 
On sunny Saturday, the solar panels produced more energy than the building consumed. 

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Meyer said the panels produce about twice as much energy as the building uses, but currently they don’t have a way to store that extra energy. 

That’s all about to change with a $900 grant the City of Rochester Parks & Recreation Department received from Clean Energy Resource Teams to help transition the Prairie House building into a net zero carbon facility. 

"This grant is going to allow us to install a battery backup. What that means is on a sunny day when we’re producing more energy than what we are using that excess goes into the battery. So when the sun goes down or it's a cloudy day we're able to use energy we've already produced," said Meyer.
 
The battery will be installed later this month. Quarry Hill will use it as a teaching opportunity for students in the classroom and as a model for people looking to build in the region.

The City of Rochester and the Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center will cover the balance of the installation project costs, totaling more than $7,000. 


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