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U of M team wins DOE challenge

“Team OptiMN,” a group of 14 undergraduate and grad students at the University of Minnesota with diverse majors (including building science, sustainable design, construction management and business), was the Grand Award Winner of The Department of Energy’s second annual "Race to Zero" Student Design Competition. The team won for its design of the OptiMN Impact Home in North Minneapolis.

Teams competing in the “Race to Zero” challenge were asked to design cost-effective zero-energy-ready homes for mainstream builders, according to a press release announcing the award, adding that, "The winning design uses high-performance features that sharply reduce energy use, and allow for most of the remaining energy use to be offset with renewable energy." The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This year, the competition involved 33 teams from 27 universities in the U.S., Canada and China. "Along with energy-efficiency, the designed homes must be comfortable and attractive as well as affordable," the release stated.

Green Homes North, one of team OptiMN's partners, plans on building 100 energy-efficient homes in North Minneapolis in the next five years. Team OptiMN made sure the home followed their guidelines. The team also partnered with Urban Homeworks to design a high performance, affordable, flexible home. Residential Science Resources was the team's energy rater partner.

Team OptiMN’s design goals centered around meeting: the DOE’s challenge to build a zero energy ready home; Urban Homework’s mission to produce equitable, dignified communities; and Green Homes North Initiative to revitalize North Minneapolis neighborhoods with affordable, sustainable and quality homes.


Northside social-service startup awarded $28 million federal grant

Northside Achievement Zone, a joint initiative of the public schools and social service agencies in North Minneapolis aimed at boosting the academic achievement of thousands of neighborhood kids, has received a $28 million implementation grant from the federal government, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The money, from the Department of Education's Promise Neighborhood Program, will help the NAZ scale up its school-and-community work, which focuses on helping both students and families via "connectors"--mentor/coach/facilitators who assist students with schoolwork and families with issues like housing. The program is modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City.

According to NAZ CEO Sondra Samuels, who is quoted in the piece, the grant will allow the program, which currently serves 150 families, to grow exponentially. "We have about 2,000 families and about 5,500 children that make up the Northside Achievement Zone," she says, "and we want to get to as many families and kids as we possibly can."
2 North Side Articles | Page:
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