Solar plant at an industrial area

Sustainable City Energy: Creating A Pathway for Success

May 13, 2024
By Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy, WSB

Escalating environmental concerns and urbanization are driving a paradigm shift in city energy priorities, encouraging them to invest in sustainable solutions. Renewable energy offers a plethora of benefits including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality and enhanced energy security. Transitioning to renewables presents an opportunity for cities to assert their commitment to sustainability while simultaneously reaping economic advantages through job creation and investment in clean technologies.

Key to this transition is the development of comprehensive renewable energy strategies tailored to the unique characteristics and needs of each city. These strategies encompass a multifaceted approach, incorporating policy initiatives, technological innovations, funding opportunities and community engagement.

Targeting Local Policy and Embracing Innovation

At the policy level, cities must enact ambitious targets and regulations to incentivize the adoption of renewable energy solutions. This may involve setting renewable energy mandates, implementing carbon pricing mechanisms and phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels. Additionally, cities can leverage their purchasing power to procure renewable energy for municipal operations and encourage private sector investment in clean city energy projects.

Technological advancements play a pivotal role in facilitating the integration of renewable energy into urban infrastructure as well. From solar panels and wind turbines to energy-efficient buildings and smart grids, cities have a myriad of options at their disposal to harness clean energy sources. Embracing innovative technologies not only reduces carbon emissions but also enhances energy efficiency and promotes a more resilient urban infrastructure.

Using Federal Investment Opportunities

Recent investments from legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) grant cities new opportunities and room to maneuver. Some of these investments include $16.5 billion for the deployment of new transmission lines, $21.5 billion towards clean energy demonstration projects that are directed towards large projects that drive local and regional economies and $40 billion in loan authority for clean energy projects. These programs create new opportunities for cities to not only develop renewable and sustainable energy solutions, but also economic drivers for their communities.

However, these types of investments will not fund the entirety of any one project, and each grant will include a variety of requirements that first need to be met. Cities that incentivize the adoption of renewable energy solutions will set the groundwork necessary for the types of investments made available by federal legislation like the IIJA and IRA or from state agencies. Federal and state investments can be a boon to a city’s energy development plans.

Collaborating and Cooperating Across Communities and Industries

As cities transition to renewable energy, local community engagement is also incredibly important. Empowering residents through education, outreach and participation in decision-making processes fosters a sense of ownership and collective responsibility for sustainability initiatives. Community-led initiatives, such as neighborhood solar cooperatives and energy efficiency programs, can significantly contribute to the widespread adoption of renewable energy at the grassroots level.

Moreover, transitioning city energy towards renewable energy requires collaboration and cooperation across multiple stakeholders, including government agencies, businesses, academia and civil society organizations. By fostering partnerships and knowledge-sharing platforms, cities can leverage collective expertise and resources to overcome barriers and accelerate progress towards sustainability goals.

Challenges and How WSB Can Help Overcome Barriers

While there are numerous benefits in clean energy transitions for cities, there are also challenges. From policy barriers and technological limitations to financial constraints and community resistance, the path to achieving sustainable urban transformation is fraught with obstacles. However, WSB is uniquely positioned to help cities overcome these challenges and navigate the complexities of transitioning to clean energy.

For municipalities struggling to develop and implement policies that incentivize the adoption of renewables, WSB can provide invaluable expertise in policy analysis and development, helping cities design and enact robust regulatory frameworks that promote renewable energy deployment.

Technological barriers may also pose significant challenges to the widespread adoption of renewable energy in urban environments. WSB specializes in innovative engineering solutions, and we can work with cities to design and implement cutting-edge renewable energy technologies tailored to address the unique needs and constraints of urban infrastructure.

For cities exploring what renewable energy investments fit financially for their community, WSB can help by conducting feasibility studies, identifying funding sources and developing business models that maximize return on investment.

Finally, for those working to garner support and build community consensus for renewable energy projects, WSB specializes in stakeholder engagement, facilitating dialogue between local communities, government agencies and other stakeholders.

Overall, federal and state funding for renewable energy projects is spurring many cities toward exploring and investing in renewable energy. For cities unsure of where to start or for cities who need help navigating the complex nature of renewable energy projects, WSB brings together multidisciplinary experts with diverse skill sets and backgrounds to help cities address their unique challenges and chart a course toward a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future.

Behnaz manages the multi-disciplinary renewable energy team in project and program operations. She is an accomplished academic, with a PhD of Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Vienna, an associate of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and has served on the board of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, advocating for policy and regulatory initiative’s that strengthen the industry.

[email protected] | 612.468.8423

Clean energy

Earth Month: WSB’s Commitment to Clean Energy Development

April 22, 2024

By Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy, WSB

The month of April is dedicated to raising awareness about sustainability and protecting our environment. In line with this goal, WSB’s dedicated Renewables Team is actively involved in furthering this initiative by aiding in the development, design and construction of clean renewable energy projects. From initial surveying to permitting, design and construction services, WSB provides a comprehensive range of expertise and support for clean energy projects nationwide.

Empowering Renewable Expansion: WSB’s Comprehensive Service Offerings and Growth
With a growing interest in renewable energy and increased grant funding opportunities at the federal level, the WSB team expanded considerably to meet the needs of clients and communities. Over the last few years, the Renewables Team has grown from a few staff members to more than 45 staff helping implement diverse projects including wind, solar and Battery Storage, providing a wide range of services across project needs.

The range of services includes:

  1. Survey
  2. Environmental and Permitting
  3. Geotech (certain states)
  4. Civil Site Design
  5. Hydrology
  6. Right of Way (ROW)
  7. Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  8. Construction Support
  9. Visualization

Apart from Geotech, the range of services the renewables team provides doesn’t have geographic limitations. The WSB Renewable team can work with contractors to reduce installation costs by designing with construction in mind, automating construction processes by creating machine files for grading equipment, creating real-time grading as-builts and even troubleshooting grading equipment remotely to avoid unnecessary delays. These services have already contributed to the creation of renewable energy across the country that communities have come to rely on.

Powering Tomorrow: WSB’s Impact on Clean Energy Across the Nation

The clean energy projects that benefited from the services provided by WSB’s Renewables Team are already producing are going to produce considerable amounts of energy around the country. Over the last 2 years, our renewable team has designed over 5000 megawatts (MW) of renewable projects. For reference, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the average residential electric utility customer in 2022 used about 10,791 kilowatt-hours per year. A 9-kilowatt renewable system generates approximately 10,791 kilowatt-hours. Projects including solar, wind and battery storage are powering communities across the U.S., with more projects being designed and constructed as time goes on.

Energizing Communities: WSB’s Leadership in Renewable Energy Initiatives

WSB’s services thus far have empowered numerous renewable projects, enabling communities across the country to access the clean energy they seek. From large-scale wind, solar and battery storage projects to smaller community solar initiatives, WSB’s seasoned Renewables Team consistently delivers results. As renewables represent the future of our energy grid, WSB remains committed to leading the way in adopting cutting-edge technology and tools for a sustainable energy future. With five thousand Megawatts already achieved, this is just the outset of our journey.

Behnaz is a lead solar engineer and manager specializing in utility scale, commercial and residential solar design. She is mindful of and knowledgeable about all local state and federal environmental rules and regulations and adept at explaining complex technical engineering concepts clearly and accessibly to wide variety of professional and nonprofessional audiences.

[email protected] | 612.468.8423

Improving Infrastructure Across the Country

December 18, 2023

By Brian Bourassa, Vice President of Corporate Development, WSB

At WSB, we build what’s next in infrastructure—the places, spaces and systems that support our lives. We take pride in supporting communities across the country on a wide variety of projects. With over 30 complementary services within engineering, community planning, environmental and construction, we support the commercial, government and energy markets. From city to state, land development to facilities, and energy utilities to renewable energy— we build for people and the future. 

Energy

UTILITIES, SUMMIT UTILITIES  

There is a lot of potential in the energy market, and we continue to lead the industry with advanced project delivery. In Arkansas, we perform utility work for Summit Utilities through inspection as well as utility mapping. Through this work, we have digitally mapped a large portion of new installations. Utility mapping is the future, and the safety and efficiency benefits are significant. 

RENEWABLE ENERGY, SIGNAL ENERGY 

Renewable energy is creating a more sustainable future. Across the country, we’re supporting utility scale solar fields and community solar gardens. Community solar gardens are constructed on smaller tracts of land within a specific geographic location and provide energy to individuals, businesses, nonprofits and other groups. A recent project we supported is Clearway Cokato in Minnesota. This 4-Megawatt community solar garden was distributed across 20 acres of land. We also provided infiltration trenches as stormwater management BMP’s. 

Commercial 

LAND DEVELOPMENT, CRYSTAL VALLEY RANCH DEVELOPMENT, CO 

The Ridge is a 142-lot subdivision on 160 acres located within Crystal Valley outside of Denver, Colorado. This Crystal Valley Ranch property proved to be one of the most complex subdivisions ever completed by our land development team due to some challenging features. The project included steep grades, limited connection points, adjacent existing subdivision tie-ins, the creation of an entirely new pressure zone in the town’s water system and preservation of existing Gambel oak and view plane restrictions. 

FACILITIES, KELLEN RESEARCH BUILDING AT MAYO CLINIC 

We support many large facilities, including buildings on healthcare campuses. At the Kellen Research Building on the Mayo Clinic campus, we provided geotechnical inspections, vertical and civil special inspection services and GPR for the research building. Additionally, we provided land surveying, civil engineering and landscape architecture design. 

CONSTRUCTION, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA – DULUTH 

Recently, we have partnered with the University of Minnesota-Duluth to improve campus infrastructure. A project of note was the replacement of the heating plant underground storage tanks along with new asphalt and concrete pavements and sidewalks. Another involved replacing severely worn entrance roads, sidewalks and parking lots and improving crosswalk safety for the Chester Park building. For each of these projects WSB provided materials testing and special inspection services. 

Government

SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS, CITY OF BRAINERD, MN 

We recently supported the city of Brainerd’s Oak Street Improvement Project in front of Harrison Elementary School, a roadway that warranted several improvements to improve safety of pedestrians and students crossing the busy corridor. The $500,000 project was fully funded by the Safe Routes to School grant program. The road was reconstructed with a median, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs), and appropriate pedestrian signage to improve awareness and safety of pedestrians crossing the roadway. 

CIVIL ENGINEERING, HAYS COUNTY, TX 

WSB provided plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) for RM 967 in Hays County. The $6.6 million project added several improvements such as widening lanes, adding a continuous left turn lane, additional lanes at intersections and safety shoulders to 4.4 miles of the minor arterial. Beyond this, many traffic and pedestrian signals were improved, reducing congestion-related delays. Several innovative design elements were involved in making this project successful including designing a portion of the project non-symmetrically and developing a new construction approach to avoid relocation efforts. 

CIVIL ENGINEERING, NORTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 

We recently performed a grade raise on ND 14; a roadway of regional significance backed by Emergency Relief funding. The goal of the project was to improve safety, specifically to expand flood risk protection. WSB supports roadway projects with many services, but this project included construction inspection and contract administration. 

TRIBAL SUPPORT, MANDAN HIDATSA AND ARIKARA (MHA) NATION 

WSB is part of a multi-disciplinary team designing a new high school campus in Twin Buttes, North Dakota. The comprehensive project encompasses constructing a school building, a large sports stadium featuring artificial turf, a sports dome, and a residence hall. Our role in this endeavor extends to spearheading critical site components, including civil engineering, permitting, and landscape architectural services. This project holds immense significance due to its commitment to incorporating indigenous values into the curriculum and addressing a vital need within the community. The closest existing high school is over 40 miles away, making this initiative an essential step toward providing accessible education for the local population. 

Brian is a registered professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in many types of municipal and general civil engineering projects including streets, parking lots, storm sewers and drainage, water distribution systems, sanitary sewer systems, site grading, park improvements, infrastructure reconstruction, and tribal communities. Brian’s experience includes all phases of the project including feasibility study, design documents. bidding process and construction administration.

[email protected] | 763.287.8536

Scalable Renewable Energy

December 18, 2023

By Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy, WSB

Exploring energy resources beyond fossil fuels.

It is no secret that our future is focused on resiliency, and many communities are shifting toward utilizing renewable energy components. Renewable natural gas, utility scale solar fields, community solar gardens and wind farms all help power communities throughout the U.S.

WSB supports communities from coast to coast and collaborates with diverse clients such a owners, developers and large energy contractors. The scope and scale of our renewable work includes a broad geography of clients and projects.

Renewable energy powers a substantial number of homes, and in a sustainable way. Having energy sources that are replenished by nature and produce little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air is a big step toward living in a more resilient, net zero environment. One Megawatt (MW) of renewable energy can power up to 170 homes. The ability to offer this coverage is an advantage as we push toward a more sustainable future.

Renewable Natural Gas

Landfills, hog farm manure and more all are sources of methane. Through organic material decomposing, these items produce a gas that, when handled properly create a promising natural gas. Through a digester, a wastewater treatment plant, impurities can be extracted from the gas and turned into the renewable natural gas that is piped into our houses for daily functions such as heating the stove or furnace. WSB supports these projects in a variety of ways including helping clients get permits from the Public Utilities Commission, surveying, land acquisition and construction staking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the potential for 8,241 livestock biogas systems that could generate over 13 million MW hours of energy yearly.

Utility Scale Solar

Typically hired by a large Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) firm, we support utility scale solar projects to provide solar design. These large solar fields vary from 3,000-5,000 acres, equivalent to about 30 miles of roadway and millions of miles of cubic dirt moved for the solar panels to be installed. With renewable energy on this large of a scale, these is the potential to power 250 MW, or about 50,000 homes. In addition to design, WSB provides a design-build partnership – offering construction support and the automation of construction when working on these projects.

Community Solar Gardens

Like utility scale solar, community solar gardens are a way to meet energy needs and are the best fit for smaller projects or clients. Community solar gardens are behind the meter projects constructed for midsized developers such as nonprofits, community-based organizations, tribes or private owners. In this instance, a community comes together to get solar energy rather than energy from the grid. Instead of using a large solar field, like utility scale solar, community solar gardens utilize small amounts of land and roof space to generate the power for the community. Depending on the state and jurisdiction, these projects often range in size and in how many Megawatts they supply, but typically range from one to ten megawatts.

Wind Farms

Wind turbines are very similar to solar fields in how they produce energy, but there are some differences. A key difference between the improved efficiency of wind farms and solar panels is that wind turbines can provide energy at all hours of the day. Wind farms also allow producers to maintain their land and continue to use it for its original use. By utilizing wind turbines farmers can continue to operate on the land – a luxury that does not exist on solar sites. A single wind turbine can produce between 2-3 MW, providing between 340-510 homes with energy. From surveys, site assessments and permitting to design, WSB can support your wind energy needs.

Renewable natural gas, utility scale solar fields, community solar gardens and wind farms all support communities across the country with sustainability at the forefront. As society continues to shift toward a future of resiliency and explore resources beyond traditional fossil fuels, living in a net zero environment becomes more attainable. WSB is proud to offer a variety of services and many subject matter experts to assist in the transition and better your community.

Behnaz is a lead solar engineer and manager specializing in utility scale, commercial and residential solar design. She is mindful of and knowledgeable about all local state and federal environmental rules and regulations and adept at explaining complex technical engineering concepts clearly and accessibly to wide variety of professional and nonprofessional audiences.

[email protected] | 612.468.8423

Building Smart and Sustainable Cities with Renewable Energy

September 18, 2023
By Behnaz Beladi, Director of Renewable Energy, WSB

WSB knows the importance of creating resilient and sustainable cities that prioritize the needs of its residents while preserving the environment. Smart cities that utilize technology to collect data and improve operations are crucial in advancing toward a more sustainable future. Renewable energy has emerged as a critical strategy in achieving this goal and is being implemented and managed in various ways across smart cities.

Here are several key benefits and challenges of implementing renewable energy in smart cities:

Reducing Emissions

An important benefit of using renewable energy in smart cities is that it helps reduce carbon emissions. By using distributed energy resources such as wind and solar power, smart cities work towards reducing their carbon footprint to zero. This helps the environment and makes the city a desirable place to live and work.

Economic Growth

One of the most significant benefits of renewable energy in smart cities is the potential for economic growth. Affordable and reliable renewable power can attract and retain companies, provide green jobs, and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation through renewable business incubators.

Quality of Life

Public health and safety can be improved through emission free cities. Renewable energy increases the quality of life for residents, particularly those in lower-income households. Inclusivity is promoted by providing access to renewable resources and grants to help cover the costs for low-income residents. Furthermore, residents can be paid to redistribute excess energy back into the grid, providing additional financial support to those needing it.

Challenges

Despite these benefits, there are still challenges to implementing renewable energy in smart cities. To sufficiently leverage renewable sources, a great deal of new transmission infrastructure is required. Power transmission infrastructure was built with large fossil fuel plants and nuclear plants in mind. This raises issues for renewable energy sources not located near existing infrastructure. In fact, some areas with little or no infrastructure, such as off-shore wind farms, are some of the best hopes for sources of renewable energy. In some cities, it may be more difficult to build power plants due to geography, regulations and policies, or issues with constructability. However, through technology and innovation, WSB helps cities find ways to utilize existing infrastructure while being incredibly cost-effective in the long run. This includes incorporating smart EV chargers into commercial buildings and condominiums, helping with solar needs for residential or commercial buildings, and designing wind and solar power plants for cities and utilities.

How WSB Can Help

Renewable energy is an essential component of any smart city. By reducing carbon emissions, driving economic growth, and improving the quality of life for residents, renewable energy is helping to create cities of the future. As more communities adopt renewable energy practices, WSB is here to help design and build new infrastructure or incorporate renewable energy sources into existing infrastructure.

Behnaz manages the multi-disciplinary renewable energy team in project and program operations. She is an accomplished academic, with a PhD of Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Vienna, an associate of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and has served on the board of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, advocating for policy and regulatory initiative’s that strengthen the industry.

[email protected] | 612.468.8423

Behnaz Beladi

Net Zero Emissions: Three Things for Minnesota Cities to Know

June 12, 2023
By John Gerlach, Vice President of Oil & Gas, WSB

Recently, Minnesota signed new legislation requiring the state to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. This significant step toward sustainability presents challenges and opportunities for cities throughout the state. Here’s what this means for cities and how to navigate the transition into the future.

Understanding the Footprint

The net zero emissions legislation signed by the governor of Minnesota presents cities with a unique opportunity to transform their energy infrastructure and contribute to a sustainable future. Achieving a net zero carbon footprint requires a comprehensive approach. Cities must allocate acreage and land for renewable energy projects. They must consider the financial implications, technology requirements, security considerations, and materials. By initiating the planning process early, cities can develop robust design, construction, and management strategies.

Cities also need to consider the differences between paying for and owning energy supply. Like the difference between playing for a football team versus owning the football team, owning sustainable energy infrastructure allows cities to exert greater control over their energy sources and costs.

Funding Opportunities and Sustainable Energy Solutions

Implementing net zero emissions laws brings significant financial opportunities for cities. Given the availability of state and federal funding, tax credits, and incentive programs, cities should prioritize grant writing as a crucial step in securing financial support for their net initiatives. This requires expertise and dedicated staff who can navigate the grant application process effectively. Hiring individuals with experience in securing renewable energy grants can significantly enhance a city’s chances of success.

Integrating into Existing Infrastructure

Integrating net zero emissions into already-existing infrastructure is a critical aspect of the transition. Technology plays a crucial role in accomplishing this feat. While renewable energy sources will increasingly contribute to the energy mix, it is essential to acknowledge the continued importance of pipelines for efficient energy transportation. By repurposing existing infrastructure, such as methane gas pipelines from landfills into natural gas systems, cities can make significant strides toward achieving their emissions goals.

How WSB Can Help the Transition to Net Zero

WSB is committed to helping cities in Minnesota navigate the transition to a net zero future. We offer expertise in identifying renewable energy solutions that suit each city’s unique requirements. Our services encompass sustainable energy infrastructure design, construction, and management. Leveraging WSB’s experience, knowledge, and resources will help cities achieve their net zero goals.

John has over 25 years of pipeline construction experience. He leads our Pipeline Field Staff and manages natural gas inspection teams throughout the United States. While operating out of our St Paul, MN office, his activities include business development, team development to ensure our team meets pipeline compliance and standards, implementation of training programs, Operator Qualification and pipeline related certifications as well as overseeing the day to day field operations.

[email protected] | 612.214.1260

John Gerlach

Designing Drainage Systems for Renewable Energy Sites

By Dan Cazanacli, Project Manager, and Henry Meeker, Graduate Engineer, WSB

When designing drainage systems for renewable energy sites, many different surface water factors must be considered to ensure a well-constructed system. These factors include how floods can impact the site, how water damage affects equipment and access points, soil erosion, water regulations, and how runoff impacts the surrounding ecosystem.

Floods can cause both widespread and deep channelized flow across solar farms.

Designers need to understand how water will flow across the site in different flood scenarios. Many renewable energy sites are located near floodplains, which can make the design process even more complicated. To tackle these challenges, WSB engineers use sophisticated 2D hydraulic models to map the direction, depth, and speed of water flow across the site.

Stop water damage to critical site components.

A crucial part of the drainage systems design process is ensuring that water, in any scenario, can flow smoothly across the site without causing any damage or flooding to critical components, such as inverters or battery storage units. Designers use the results of the hydraulic models to find the best solutions for water flow and to place these critical components away from the main flow of water. The models are also used to identify areas where water flows too quickly. WSB develops erosion control measures in these situations, such as reinforcing road surfaces at low water crossings.

Plan for ground erosion around solar panel support piles.

Another important aspect of renewable energy site design is ensuring that the supports for the solar panels can withstand strong winds and flooding. Each site is unique, our engineers work closely with our clients to use the results of the hydraulic models to assess the potential scour depth, meaning the point in the ground where erosion could occur, around the support piles and identify the appropriate methodology to use. This determines the best depth for embedding them. The models can also be used to identify areas where water is flowing too quickly and to develop erosion control measures, such as rock stabilization.

Consider water quality and management regulations.

Designers also need to consider regulations around stormwater management, water quality, floodplains, wetlands, and critical species/habitats. Project timelines will be significantly delayed without proper planning and consideration of these factors. WSB works to minimize the impact of the site on these sensitive areas while ensuring that the project proceeds on schedule. This often involves working closely with local government units and obtaining the necessary permits.

Protect ecosystem health.

Designers must understand how solar panels interact with the surrounding vegetation and soil. Major institutions, like the University of Minnesota, are performing ongoing research into how panel runoff affects water infiltration and an ecosystem’s health that will be incorporated into designs. Designers can leverage these findings to optimize water quality benefits for the site, incorporating water quality basins, pollinator-friendly vegetation, and site-specific erosion control measures.

How WSB Can Help

Do you need help planning your solar project and navigating challenges around drainage water systems? WSB can help with your design, develop erosion control models, ensure protection of local ecosystems through sustainable solutions, and more.

Dan has 15 years of experience in water resources and geotechnical engineering in the private sector. Dan is now a project manager for WSB, and provides value to projects through his extensive background in hydrology and hydraulics, fluid mechanics, geomorphology, geology, soil mechanics, and groundwater flow.
[email protected] | 612.201.0184

As a water resources graduate engineer with WSB, Henry works on a variety of stormwater management projects. His work on regional stormwater systems, roadway improvement projects, and stormwater treatment retrofits benefited from his technical knowledge which includes utility-scale solar drainage, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, water quality modeling, floodplain modeling, best management practice design, watershed permitting, and stormwater conveyance systems.
[email protected] | 612.258.8157

Geothermal Feasibility

Renewable Energy Match: Combining Clean Energy Exploration & Detailed Economic Analysis in a One-of-a-Kind Tool

With more and more businesses setting comprehensive sustainability goals that include net-zero carbon emissions, many are unsure what is the best way to achieve those goals or what renewable energy investment will be most effective. Sustainability investment should be data driven and can be done in a way that both protects the environment and a business’ bottom line. 

WSB and iD8 have partnered to create a new one-of-a-kind analysis – Renewable Energy Match – that provides clients with a full understanding of renewable energy options, and comprehensive data analysis to drive financial-based decision-making. It goes beyond traditional energy evaluation by combining economic data with place-based environmental information.

Explore clean energy options that meet your needs.

Many companies exploring clean energy solutions often first look to solar and wind energy. Those are excellent renewable energy sources, but there is also untapped potential in sources like hydrogen, geothermal energy, and renewable natural gas. 

Every organization has different needs when it comes to renewable energy, so a plan that is customized to individual needs, takes into account location, and is driven by thorough research and data is critical. 

How Renewable Energy Match works.

Most companies base their renewable energy decisions off financial feasibility. WSB has taken that concept further and developed a 4-phase approach to determine which renewable energy option is best for each specific client. The process includes:

  1. First-order feasibility study This first step provides a high-level geospatial analysis of the area the client is operating within to determine what resources are available for renewable energy production. It includes iD8 financial assessments for each energy form and an overall optimization for each energy.  A risk assessment of external factors that could influence the performance of energy sources is also part of this phase. 
  2. Strategic Planning This stage provides a deeper exploration of local energy resources that are available, as well as their acquisition costs, parcel ownership, local energy grids, climate analysis, and more. 
  3. Final Design & Regulatory Planning Once the strategic plan is complete, infrastructure planning and design, environmental and resource assessments, and land permitting can begin.
  4. Energy implementation The final phase is to begin energy production and implementation at the selected facility. 

Who can benefit from Renewable Energy Match?

There are many types of businesses and organizations that can benefit from Renewable Energy Match including companies with net-zero goals, businesses with multiple facilities or campuses, universities, utilities, and companies looked to expand their energy renewable energy portfolios..

This one-of-a-kind analysis allows clients to strategically explore the costs, sources, and options around renewable energy on a digital platform, and advance investments that will best meet the needs of a client from both an economic and sustainability perspective. 

Want to learn more about Renewable Energy Match? Check out our website to explore more, contact a WSB expert, or schedule a demo.

Solar-Renewable Energy

Is Your Community Ready for Solar Energy

By Eric Zweber, Sr Project Manager and Amy Fredregill, Sr Director of Sustainability, WSB

Solar energy systems, such as solar panel arrays, are becoming increasingly less expensive to install and are generating more energy than before. The lower initial investment is resulting in a shorter time required for the savings on your city’s electricity bill to cover the initial cost of installation. In the long run, solar energy systems save money, generate jobs, and provide clean energy to your citizens. The low maintenance costs, economic stimulation and many other benefits make solar energy a strong option.

Here are four things to consider when exploring solar energy options for your city:

  • How do your citizens, businesses and other stakeholders feel about climate and renewable energy? How do you expect that to change in the future?              
    • Renewable energy options may be one way to advance your community’s climate and sustainability goals and interests, while meeting the needs of a range of stakeholders.
  • Does your electricity provider have a green tariff, green power program, or net energy monitoring program?
    • These programs partner with cities and businesses to provide the best value for renewable energy. Exploring which options your electricity provider may have can save on cost, and ensure you are maximizing your resources.
  • Is increasing awareness and education a goal of your energy program?
    • If so, onsite solar generation can have an even stronger business case due to the local visibility it provides.
  • How will investment tax credits (ITCs) and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) be capitalized within your project investment?      
    • Municipalities can have difficulties recovering incentives such as ITCs and SRECs. Exploring potential partnerships prior to installation can create funding opportunities to shorten your payback period.

Every solar energy solution looks different. For community leaders facing challenges and planning for the future, it can be difficult to know when and where to start. When we partner with clients, we help them explore what opportunities their community can tap into for solar energy considerations.

Eric has over 20 years experience with community planning, renewable energy, and sustainability projects. He has worked cooperatively with a number renewable energies developers to develop both solar and wind resources and is a past board member of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industrial Association (MnSEIA). He has a passion for sustainable and resilient practices to address the needs of communities and larger public.

[email protected] | 612.581.0504

Amy has over 20 years of experience across many industries, particularly energy and agriculture, in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This experience has provided Amy with a broad background that enables her to meet community and business needs based on the business case for sustainability. By working across intersecting systems to simultaneously advance environmental, economic and social goals, she is able to uncover creative solutions.

[email protected] | 612.965.1489

Solar-Renewable Energy

Supporting a Cleaner World Through Resiliency

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY STRATEGIES.

By Amy Fredregill, Sr. Director of Sustainability and Brigid Lynch, Geomorphologist/Climatologist Hazard Specialist, WSB

With the release of the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the need for businesses, governments, and civilians to accelerate their efforts to build greener economies and avoid a global climate crisis is clear. Businesses and all levels of government are seeing increased climate risk along with demand from customers and community members to find innovative solutions that reduce emissions in energy, transport, and other industries.

The primary strategy to prepare for the future includes increasing energy and water efficiency and creating renewable energy plans while simultaneously managing the impacts that have already reached us, like an increase in extreme weather events.

Renewables and the economy.

Companies and consumers are becoming more selective of who they choose to work with and purchase from, focusing on carbon footprints and those committed to renewable goals, driving growth, and encouraging companies to be innovative. The future of renewables is booming and will ultimately reduce cost and risk, meeting the wants and needs of the consumer. Local governments are also strategically transitioning their operations to be more climate friendly, including securing renewable energy.

Developing predictive tools.

In response to extreme weather events and changing demands, WSB is developing a GIS-based tool to help businesses and government entities strategically transition their operations to renewable energy sources. The tool adapts to client needs and allows them to select which renewable sources should be included in their renewable plans. The tool is predictive, incorporating climate change projections that will affect energy production and operations in the future, and integrates cost and benefits of different sources of renewable energy technologies.

The new tool produces energy production calculations, climate risk assessments and suitability rankings. This data helps companies identify where the risks lie, so they can achieve their future goals, make informed decisions, and come up with solutions to achieve those goals.

The future of renewable energy.

According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy currently makes up 26% of the world’s electricity, but that share is expected to grow to nearly 30% by 2024. As the demand for renewable energy sources and strategies grows, we have the unique opportunity to support a greener world, reduce cost and risk and meet customer demands.

Amy Fredregill
Sr Director of Sustainability
[email protected]

Brigid Lynch
Geomorphologist/Climatologist Hazard Specialist
[email protected]