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YogaFit Embraces "The Internet of Air"

If you’re a regular on the yoga circuit, you know that most studios’ climate-control settings pay little or no mind to accepted indoor heating and cooling conventions. When you walk into your morning vinyasa class, you’re primed to expect a fetid sauna, frost-lined meat locker or something in between—or maybe, as your session progresses, all of the above.
Good news, perennially uncomfortable yogis. With help from 75F, an ambitious Minnesota startup that makes responsive, Internet-connected climate control solutions, two Minneapolis YogaFit studios are bringing predictability (and comfort!) back to the yoga routine.
The studios, in Northeast and Linden Hills, tapped 75F to remedy years of HVAC frustration. Each studio operates 24/7, with a mix of class and open studio time, and attendance varies widely from hour to hour. During cold-season peak periods, attendees’ body heat is often sufficient to heat each studio with little to no assistance from the HVAC system. When attendance is sparse, passive heating can’t keep things comfortable. The inverse (or nearly so) is true during the warm season: heavily attended sessions require nonstop AC on full blast, while unoccupied studios require little to no climate control.
Needless to say, the studios’ multiple non-programmable digital thermostats simply couldn’t manage this constantly shifting demand. According to a 75F case study, studio temperatures ranged anywhere from 73 to 90 degrees on a typical day. Instructors would arrive 30 to 45 minutes early to set the proper temperature for each class, and had zero control over the studios’ temperature during unoccupied periods.
75F’s solution was seamless and elegant: unlike typical programmable thermostats, its multi-zone thermostats integrated directly with the studios’ scheduling software, empowering instructors to set comfortable class and open studio temperatures days in advance. And the system’s detailed analytics enabled management to track temperature changes (and anomalies) in near real time. The result: more comfortable studio environments, and more relaxed instructors, around the clock.
“We needed a partner, and a solution, that could react to our business—not the other way around,” says Ashok Dhariwal, YogaFit’s Minneapolis franchisee. “75F delivered a customized solution based on our business needs, [implemented] it very fas  and has supported us every step of the way.”
75F’s smart climate control systems are also suitable for restaurants, retail outlets and offices of virtually any size. According to 75F’s website, the technology reduces customers’ heating and cooling costs by up to 40 percent.

Tiny Diner is top Small Business Revolution story

Kim Bartmann’s Tiny Diner has just been honored as the country’s top “Small Business Revolution” story by Deluxe, a business services company based in the Twin Cities’ northern suburbs. The South Minneapolis restaurant was the first stop on Deluxe’s nationwide Small Business Revolution tour, which will profile 100 U.S. companies during the coming months in honor of Deluxe’s 100th anniversary.
Small Business Revolution was initiated in response to what Deluxe sees as the country’s increasingly impersonal, digitized economy; a place where conducting anonymous online transactions is often easier than seeking out independent, brick-and-mortar businesses owned by our friends and neighbors.
“We’re less likely to know who we’re buying from,” according to Deluxe’s Small Business Revolution website. “We’re exchanging data instead of sharing experiences. In too many places, the magic and the meaning [of doing business] have begun to fade.”
According to Deluxe, Small Business Revolution taps “award-winning independent filmmakers and photographers to honor” businesses that “create something more personal, more local, more meaningful for all of us.”
Bartmann’s participation required a couple of phone interviews and a “fairly long day of shooting,” Bartmann says—not a bad deal for national exposure.
“I was thrilled to be approached,” she says. Bartmann owns Tiny Diner and seven other restaurants across the Twin Cities. “I’m interested in taking part in anything that promotes small business here.” She found her way onto Deluxe’s radar, she says, because she’s a prominent booster for the Twin Cities Metro Independent Business Alliance, a key small business organization.
Deluxe immediately bought into “the pretty powerful little project we have here,” says Bartmann. Tiny Diner is “engaging sustainable food production in a real way,” she says, “thinking through how we can close the loop in the traditionally wasteful restaurant industry.”
As a diner that offers food at a moderate price point and caters to a regular, neighborhood-centric crowd, says Bartmann, Tiny Diner has an even greater responsibility to be sustainable than high-end “destination” restaurants.
Case in point: Tiny Diner’s patio-top solar setup is “the largest visible solar array” in the Twin Cities, she said, as all larger arrays are on high roofs or hidden behind greenery. Despite the array’s size, Bartmann offset about 90 percent of its cost through various state and federal rebates.
Bartmann is justifiably proud of Tiny Diner’s food, too. “Our challenge is to think about how we can make typical diner food, like hash browns, better,” she says. “You can go and eat at a lot of restaurants, but you’re not always being fed.”
After Tiny Diner, the Small Business Revolution tour hit The Shed Fitness and Bogart’s Donuts, both also in Minneapolis. The tour heads south to Kansas next, though Deluxe is still accepting nominations for businesses to be featured in the tour’s later stages, regardless of location.

Midwest Innovation Summit showcases startups focusing on sustainable technologies

Hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and corporate executives gathered at the Depot Hotel in Minneapolis on October 27 and 28 for the Midwest Innovation Summit, an annual gathering that showcases what’s next in technology and manufacturing across the region. About 75 exhibitors were on hand, including promising Minnesota startups like 75F—winner of this year’s Minnesota Cup— and Water Meter Solutions, which operates out of CoCo Minneapolis.
“The Midwest Innovation Summit is about attracting entrepreneurs and business leaders from all across the region to display any solution that uses natural resources more efficiently,” says Justin Kaster, executive director of Midwest CleanTech Open, the summit’s sponsor. “Many of the exhibitors here are committed to sustainability for ethical and environmental reasons, but [Midwest Innovation Summit] really shows that clean technology is a great business opportunity as well.”
In innovation capitals like the Twin Cities, Kaster adds, entrepreneurs and investors have “started to respond to that value proposition” over the last decade. “Everyone realizes that clean technology is a win-win situation now,” he says. “You don’t have work overtime to convince people of that anymore.”
Several Twin Cities companies have clearly bought in. Water Meter Solutions makes two water-saving technologies. Floo-id is a “smart toilet monitoring device” that allows property managers and homeowners to monitor their toilets’ water use in real time, quickly identifying leaks and other issues that could affect their water bills. Floo-id is powered by flowing water, making it energy neutral. Water Meter Solutions’ other technology, H2O Pro, performs a similar function for entire buildings’ water systems, offering value to multi-unit landlords.
Nearby, Minneapolis-based Irri-Green’s exhibitor booth showed off the Genius irrigation system, a patent pending lawn-watering setup that analyzes landscape contours and other factors to deliver water as efficiently as possible. Each Genius irrigator’s range overlaps precisely with that of the next, “eliminating the wasteful, overlapping arcs of water that conventional irrigation systems” produce, says Irri-Green.
Garden Fresh Farms, a Minneapolis startup and 2013 Minnesota Cup division winner with an aquaculture facility in the city, was on hand as well. The fish in the company’s growing tanks continuously fertilize the plants suspended above them, creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that produces plant and animal products for harvest.
These local companies are part of what Kaster calls “a regional ecosystem of innovation.” He urges entrepreneurs, investors, nonprofits and government entities across the Midwest to “think bigger than the city or county level” and “move past the state versus state competition” that can hinder the exchange of ideas, people and investment. The Northeast, Kaster says, is a great example of a region where innovators have banded together to create sustainable, big-picture solutions, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
“We have a tremendous amount of intellectual and creative capital here in the Twin Cities,” he says. “Events like the Midwest Innovation Summit are conduits for ideas and investment from nearby areas” that ultimately raise the profiles and prospects of local innovators.

SimpleRay Solar maximizes sunny business potential

For Geoff Stenrick, owner and president of the Saint Paul-based SimpleRay Solar, sunshine is much more than a mood-lifting respite from winter’s bitter chill. It’s a way of life.

In 2006, Stenrick quit his job as a Saturn salesman and channeled his longtime fascination with renewable energy into a nascent solar panel business called SimpleRay Solar. He enrolled in a comprehensive training course in solar technology, installation techniques, and parts engineering, then signed on with three U.S. distributors and began selling their equipment through his website.

His timing couldn’t have been better. While SimpleRay’s early customers were often hard-core environmentalists committed to green living, the launch of California’s rebate program, in 2007, drew building contractors onto the site. Similar incentives followed shortly in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and other East Coast states. Still, Stenrick’s gig remained low-key through the late 2000s: After his daughter’s birth, in 2009, “I would have to send emails and work on the website while she napped,” he says.

Because of generous rebate programs, falling manufacturing costs, and end-users’ increasing demand for panels and accessories, things are much busier now. In 2011, Stenrick hired his first employee, a car-industry colleague. His company’s 2012 revenues were sufficient to earn a spot on the “Inc. 500” list for 2013. Last year, after several additional hires—SimpleRay now has seven employees—he moved into a permanent office on Raymond Avenue, in the Creative Enterprise Zone on the Central Corridor’s Green Line.

Stenrick’s team doesn’t just sell solar panels out of this new space: As part of a transaction, SimpleRay’s in-house engineering and design professionals often help clients plan and optimize their arrays.

The most exciting development, though, may be Minnesota’s recently passed “Omnibus Energy Bill,” an aggressive renewable-energy law that requires “all utilities in the state [to] procure 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar generation by 2020,” according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. By the end of the decade, predicts Stenrick, this requirement could boost in-state solar panel sales by a factor of 40.

Already, the law has dramatically increased the likelihood that the Aurora Solar Project, a planned cluster of about two dozen solar arrays in the state’s eastern half, will be built. SimpleRay doesn’t typically sell to utilities—it prefers small and medium-sized commercial and residential contractors, although it will soon contribute to a one-megawatt array in the area—but the increased demand that accompanies large-scale utility projects is sure to reduce panel costs and render the technology competitive with fossil fuels.

“A solar system works like a furnace,” says Stenrick. “You don’t need to replace it every five years. Instead, you’re basically prepaying for your power over the 20-plus-year lifespan of your system.” Thanks to industry-standard warranties that guarantee efficiencies of at least 80 percent over a 25-year span, this leads to dramatic long-term savings.

Even in Minnesota, with its short winter days and frequent cloud cover?

Yes, says Stenrick, noting that Minnesota gets more sun than many solar-friendly East Coast states—and far more than Germany, the world’s reigning solar energy leader. “On average, Germany gets about as much sunlight as Seattle,” he says, “and look at what they’re doing over there.”

Stenrick doesn’t minimize the obvious environmental benefits of solar power—“It’s better than blowing up a mountaintop for coal,” he half-jokes—but he’s more interested in touting the cost side of the equation. In California, solar power is already cost-competitive with fossil fuels, and the Omnibus Energy Bill suggests that Minnesota isn’t far behind. Eventually, Stenrick believes, the tax credits and rebates that currently support the U.S. solar industry will be obsolete.

“The whole idea of where you get your power from [will] totally change by 2030,” says Stenrick. “We hope to ride that wave.”

Source: Geoff Stenrick, SimpleRay Solar
Writer: Brian Martucci

Finalists announced for Tekne Awards

Highlighting technology leaders in the state, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) announced finalists for the 2012 Tekne Awards.
The award program, now in its 13th year, recognizes innovations from 2011 that impacted the lives of Minnesotans, through lifestyle improvement or education. Forty-four finalists were named in fifteen categories.
The MHTA noted that the state remains at the forefront of cutting-edge technological growth, and the finalists show that the state's technology future is bright indeed, in areas that range from cleantech to robotics to mobile technologies.
In the startup category, finalists are Sophia Learning and Sparkweave, while those competing in the software category are Code 42 Software, Savigent Software and Third Wave Systems.
Finalists in other categories represent a range of companies, from large firms like 3M and Seagate Technology to smaller businesses like SheerWind, Digineer, and Agosto.
The awards are designed to showcase these types of companies, and draw attention to the innovative and competitive companies in the state, according to MHTA president Margaret Anderson Kelliher. They're part of the organization's larger mission to boost education and entrepreneurship along with technology development.
"We're very excited about the opportunities available to technology companies here," says Kelliher. "In general, we believe that individuals and companies in the state have more potential than they do challenges. We're proud and happy to support them in any way we can."
The Tekne Awards will be presented on November 1st at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Source: Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minnesota High Tech Association
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

EnergyPrint lets building owners manage energy use more effectively

For building owners and property managers, staying on top of energy costs can be challenging, especially since statistics can be tough to find. But a St. Paul-based firm is removing the roadblocks.
EnergyPrint provides an online energy management dashboard that helps users understand how a building is doing in terms of energy and water usage. The firm gathers utility data and inputs the information into its proprietary tool, which can track usage over time. That type of historical data lets an owner or manager know if they're making the best use of those environmental resources.
"This kind of monitoring has the benefit of helping to improve the planet, but the main reason for tracking this data is to increase net asset value and improve energy savings," says EnergyPrint's Chief Operations Officer Mike Williams. "Without a doubt, getting these kinds of stats is crucial for property owners."
Collecting this type of information can be tricky for owners to do on their own, however. Every utility company has different measurements in terms of energy usage, Williams says. Comparing a building in Minneapolis to one in St. Paul is difficult, for example, because separate utilities do the usage monitoring. EnergyPrint is determined to smooth out those differences so that building owners have the ability to implement more effective energy management programs.
The program has been so well received that the company is gearing up for growth in the near future, including expansion into Canada and hiring to beef up its staff.
"We're stable and strong and we intend to stay that way," says Williams.
Source: Mike Williams, EnergyPrint
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

QuadROI brings business intelligence to clean energy efforts

A "quad" is a measurement of energy, and the massive unit is used by the U.S. Department of Energy when discussing national and global energy budgets.
The United States uses nearly 100 quads of energy each year, and local entrepreneur Mark Brown (as well as many other experts) believe that the majority of these quads are wasted.
To address the issue, Brown started QuadROI, a Minneapolis-based firm that intends to boost productivity and innovation in the energy industry through the use of better business intelligence. "Regulation is not our enemy," the company's webpage notes. "Waste is our enemy."
Brown believes that waste can be minimized by utilizing existing documents and reports, and tweezing out data that can be used by utility companies and others to create benchmarks and goals. He aims to develop a single, searchable repository of information where subscribers can see high-level trends as well as project-level ROI stats. He also hopes to cultivate an online community where ideas can be shared, and collaboration can occur.
"There's so much information that's available out there, but it can be hard to make use of, especially when it comes to comparison with other programs," he says.
Right now, the site is in beta testing, and Brown expects it to be in full force by the end of the summer. After that, it's likely that QuadROI will assist in making sure those quads aren't getting wasted.
Source: Mark Brown, QuadROI
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Advisory firm envisions turning cheese waste into fuel

At accounting and advisory firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, industry experts advise clients on a range of issues, such as management, taxes, transactions, and international expansion. However, when the industries intersect, things can get even more interesting.
That's what's occurring among three to four practice areas within the firm, says John Jackels, Renewable Energy Development and Finance Manager, who notes that the energy group and waste management group are crossing paths with the food and beverage group. The result: huge potential for turning food waste into renewable energy.
Baker Tilly recently spoke at the International Cheese Technology Expo, on the topic of cheese waste becoming an energy product. Although it would take an awful lot of cheese to create a major energy source, when you consider the amount of other food waste that results from manufacturing, the impact could be formidable, Jackels believes.
"Food and beverage manufacturers all have waste as a result of production," he says. "This is called 'high-strength waste' because it requires more time and energy to process. Right now, manufacturers are paying a surcharge for this service, but what if we can use that by-product for energy? Then it would be prevented from going into the watershed, and we'd have a renewable source of energy."
Baker Tilly is looking into tax credits and other federal incentives, and plans to bring together clients from its multiple industry groups to begin working toward more food-to-fuel solutions. Jackels notes that in the near future more treatment facilities could be built to handle the conversion process. Baker Tilly will look at the financial support needed to handle these projects, and play a lead role in shepherding the process.
"This type of effort is just going to continue to get larger as people look for more ways to cut down on waste and find renewable energy sources," says Jackels. "As a result, we can drive more jobs and expansion as well."
Source: John Jackels, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Novus Energy uses innovative approach to create energy from waste products

Discarded potato waste, manure from dairy cows, and piles of old onions: could these be the ingredients for a renewable fuel source?
Those at Novus Energy think so, and they're working to take "low-value" products such as these and turn them into high-value energy.
Started about seven years ago, the Minneapolis company based its name on the Latin word for "novel, new, fresh." The three founders saw the effects of the ethanol boom and thought that there would be an even better way to achieve energy independence.
"Our chemistry is very innovative, and makes us different than traditional approaches," says CEO Joseph Burke. "We create energy from waste, taking items that might be discarded and turning them into biomethane and liquid fertilizer."
The startup faces challenges in terms of funding and adoption of its technology, Burke says. In the case of its fertilizer, the liquid organic emulsion it produces isn't yet in high demand since it's not as utilized in the agriculture market.
However, with growing interest in organic farming, and a social trend toward more sustainable products, Burke is confident that Novus will be the fresh approach the market needs.
Currently, the firm employs four people, and plans to grow at a manageable rate. Burke notes that the company is structured to bring in partners in order to have a smaller staff, so it can remain a nimble startup. In terms of market growth, though, the opportunities seem endless.
"Wherever there's a combination of low-value feedstock and food processing, we'll have a market," says Burke.
Source: Joseph Burke, Novus Energy
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

WeatherNation weds meteorology and high technology

Although common wisdom claims that there are only two constants (death and taxes), there's actually one more for the list: weather.
Updates on temperature, storms, humidity, and other weather factors have become crucial for many types of businesses, from farmers to data center managers. "Weather impacts 43 percent of America's GDP," says meteorologist Paul Douglas. "It's rare to find a company that doesn't have some type of weather exposure."
Douglas and his team at WeatherNation are working to meet demand for meteorological insight with a multi-level approach. Launched in 2008, the company is now poised for growth, after a few years of developing a unique strategy for outsourcing.
WeatherNation provides data and info to cable stations--recently, it launched a 24/7 weather channel for the state of Kentucky--and has a national channel of its own. The firm has expanded from one studio to three, and continues to add meteorologists to its team of 12, Douglas says.
"We're looking beyond broadcast and cable into opportunities like mobile and new apps," he notes. "We want to make sure that people can get personalized weather information on any device, anywhere."
Catering to business clients is another major part of WeatherNation's approach, he adds. Clients like Wells Fargo, Polaris, and Home Depot depend on the company to help with energy efficiency efforts. Next up for the company is partnership with wind turbine manufacturers, to pair wind forecasts with technology.
"Weather is becoming more extreme," says Douglas. "That's the bad news. But with technological breakthroughs, mobility, and improvements in severe storm alerts, we have more tools that will help companies stay ahead of the weather."

Source: Paul Douglas, WeatherNation
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Environmental consulting firm Bay West eyes more growth and hiring

In the past three years, St. Paul-based Bay West has boosted its employee number from 110 to 150, with a remarkably low rate of turnover. Company president Lon Larson believes that's just the beginning.
"We're on an upswing," he says. "We're really in a place where we're ready for the next phase of growth."
The environmental consulting firm was founded in 1974, but has seen particularly remarkable growth in the past few years as demand keeps rising for its services, including munitions cleanup, waste management, and emergency response. Recently, the company has garnered over $70 million in business orders as part of existing contracts.
"It sounds simple, but we really work on our core competencies," says Ed Bacig, the company's vice president of operations. "We make sure we're paying attention to customer service, and we make sure that our employees are happy and working in an environment where their ideas are being heard."
Over the past five years, Bay West has put considerable effort into a coaching program that boosts satisfaction among employees and keeps that turnover rate under five percent.
Larson adds that the company has been able to pursue more hiring through the use of teleworking. A significant investment in IT infrastructure gives Bay West the power to recruit employees from across the United States, and create teams that might be geographically separate, but are aligned through collaboration technology.
"We're seeing a lot of traction and momentum," says Bacig.
Source: Lon Larson and Ed Bacig, Bay West
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

University of Minnesota adds concentration in environmental and energy law

Environmental and energy companies will have a fresh crop of attorneys to aid their efforts in the near future: the University of Minnesota Law School is adding concentrations in these areas starting this fall.

Professor Alexandra Klass will serve as faculty chair of the new concentration, which was developed to help students prepare for practicing in these unique areas of law. In making the announcement, Klass noted that addressing environmental and energy needs will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century, and that through this program, the Law School will train the attorneys and leaders needed to tackle those issues.

The new concentrations will build on standard curriculum already being offered through other university programs. Students will be able to learn about environmental and energy topics through capstone courses, guest speaker visits, interdisciplinary course offerings, and simulation exercises.

The capstone courses include seminars on environmental justice and renewable energy, and there's also a course on "brownfields" redevelopment and litigation, an area of law that focuses on underutilized, contaminated properties.

Clinics are offered too, giving students the chance to explore topics in public policy, energy use, environmental sustainability, housing, transportation, and urban growth. As with other concentrations offered by the Law School, this new one will provide opportunities for students to participate in mentorship programs and community projects.

The Law School offers other concentrations as well, including business law, human rights law, and labor and employment law.

Source: University of Minnesota
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

U of M researchers aim startup at carbon reduction, more efficient geo-thermal heat capture

Two University of Minnesota researchers have developed technology that solves one problem--the proliferation of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)--to work improving another: how to more efficiently tap the heat inside the earth for geothermal energy systems.

Earth sciences faculty member Martin Saar and graduate student Jimmy Randolph have applied for a patent and plan to form a startup company to commercialize the technology, according to a press release.

The CO2-plume geothermal system (CPG) uses high-pressure CO2, rather than the conventional water, to carry the heat from deep in the earth. CO2 travels more easily through porous rock and can extract heat more readily, according to the researchers. The research was published in the most recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

The technology was "born in a flash of insight on a northern Minnesota road trip," according to the release, as the two conducted separate research on geothermal energy capture and geologic CO2 sequestration.

"We connected the dots and said, 'Wait a minute--what are the consequences if you use geothermally heated CO2?'" states Saar through the press release.

The consequences, according to Randolph, include being able to capture heat "in areas you couldn't even think about doing regular geothermal for electricity production," Randolph says in the release, stating that the technology could double efficiency in some areas.

The research was jump-started with a $600,00 grant in 2008 from the university's Institute on the Environment's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE).

The grant came from an annual pool of $5 million from Xcel Energy's Renewable Development Fund. IREE disburses a number of grants each year through a competition, says Rod Larkins, IREE's associate director.

That funding leveraged another $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the researchers are hoping to receive an even larger grant, says Larkins, which would require a 20 percent match, of which IREE would cover half (10 percent of the grant amount). That funding would help move the technology into the pilot phase, according to the release.

Saar called the IREE grant "really critical" in the release. "I think it's fair to say that there's a good chance that it wouldn't have gone anywhere without IREE support in the early days," he says.

Larkins says IREE's interest in funding the research stems from the fact that the technology reduces a waste stream in achieving its main objective of capturing heat for geothermal energy.

Source: Rod Larkins, Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment
Writer: Jeremy Stratton

Green-minded Warners' Stellian's Styrofoam compactor makes award-winning business sense

The appliance retailer Warners' Stellian has started compacting leftover Styrofoam packaging and sending it out by the semi-trailer load to be recycled.

The effort has earned the company a "Sustainable Saint Paul" award, a city award that promotes environmental stewardship.

The initiative was a huge undertaking for the company, requiring it to make a large investment and train all of its drivers to separate packaging materials as part of every delivery.

"It was quite a learning curve to get used to the process," said Bob Warner, director of operations. "It took a little over a year."

The new Styrofoam compactor is one of just two in the state, but Warner said the investment makes good business sense. It saves on refuse costs and taxes, and the company is paid for the recycled material. At least three other partners provide Warners' Stellian with additional Styrofoam to compact and recycle.

Warner said his company sells appliances that are more efficient than the industry standard, so going green was a natural choice.

"We already have a consumer that's very conscious about being green and being efficient," Warner said. "We're seeing that philosophy through our entire corporation."

He said the company has added other touches to make it more efficient. Delivery trucks automatically power down after five minutes of idling. A natural air ventilation system in the warehouse circulates cooler air in the northern stretch back through the warmer, southern portion of the building. Warehouse lighting is motion-sensitive, so lights only blink on in the particular aisle a forklift is using. After five minutes of inactivity, the lights power down again.

Warners' Stellian also donates plastic wrap to be recycled and put back into manufacturing.

"Foam was the last big component of our waste stream," Warner said. "We were generating a tremendous amount of waste. Now, very little is going to the landfill."

Source: Bob Warner, director of operations, Warners' Stellian
Writer: Michelle Bruch

Automated Logic, St. Paul celebrate 'smart business' move to light-rail corridor

Central Corridor plus University Avenue businesses hasn't always added up to positive press recently, so the City of St. Paul was happy to welcome a new business along the light-rail corridor, building automation systems firm Automated Logic Twin Cities, which recently moved its offices form Roseville to the Westgate business center near University and Highway 280.

Prior to a ceremonial ribbon cutting with Automated Logic President Fred Meyer, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman addressed the crowd of business leaders and local officials, including State Senators Sandy Pappas and Mary Jo McGuire.

Coleman called Automated Logic part of "a new wave of smart businesses" that would be coming to the corridor, and he promised that the construction "will be quick, � and not too far in the distant future, we are actually going to see the fruits of 30 years of discussion � to finally have light rail connecting our two downtowns."

"Construction of this magnitude is not easy," said Coleman, acknowledging that "there are going to be challenges for businesses." That said, he called Automated Logic's move "the first wave" of new businesses of all sizes that will integrate with existing ones.

"We're going to be seeing a lot of ribbon cuttings along this corridor," said Coleman.

The open house was as much a celebration of sustainability.

"We are committed to [developing the light-rail corridor] in an energy-smart, environmentally friendly manner," by attracting energy smart, environmentally friendly businesses, said Coleman. "Businesses that understand the technology behind it."

Automated Logic fits that bill. The 22-person branch office of an Atlanta-based parent company is in the business of energy management, helping businesses and building owners monitor and control their energy use and related costs.

Other city officials were on hand to showcase sustainability efforts like the St. Paul Port Authority's Trillion Btu loan project.

Port Authority President Louis Jambois addressed the crowd, as well, saying a "quiet evolution has been happening for the last several years, and companies like [Automated Logic] are part of that evolution.

"The notion of lean to green, supply chain to waste stream, in new construction and in existing buildings is something that is taking place right now," he said. "It's not just socially right, it makes sense on the bottom line. This business is one that helps businesses save money, that takes it right to the bottom line."

Photo: The ribbon cutting, with Mayor Coleman at right; Rick Keal, regional vice-president of Automated Logic. in the middle; and Fred Meyers, president of Automated Logic/Twin Cities at left.

Source: Automated Logic, City of St. Paul
Writer: Jeremy Stratton
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