Friday, September 30, 2011

The Pagami Creek Fire

Ely has had another busy season with guests visiting our wilderness and the interpretive centers for both the Wolf and Black bear. Another hot summer and one that lacked in rain after the first part of August. The grass turned brown and the leaves were curling on the trees, A small fire smouldered in the BWCA from a lightening strike from our last rain fall. Forest Service did a controlled burn to protect any cabins that were to the north. Then we had our own Ely version of September 11th. A hot dry wind blew in with gusts of over 40 miles/hour. the fire became monster and in some parts of the forest, vaporized the life it consumed. No one died nor any homes destroyed, but the town of Ely, became the head quarters for over 800 staff to deal with. We have all been busy to accommodate our new guests with beds, food and respite. Now a new forest will regenerate and the moose have new territory to graze. Next year at this time, the new shoots of birch will be growing and incredible displays of wild flowers that have been waiting for the opportunity to show off their blooms. so do not be put off by the fire when you plan your trip but come and see how fast a forest starts anew.               

                                                                                  Photos compliments of Bill Irish

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer is sizzlin'

It is mid August and so hard to believe we are on the downward slope of summer. Our new building has been a hit and we are so pleased with how easy it is to keep cool and we have used very little propane to heat our water. In fact, these sunny days have made so much hot water that we have had to wash our bedding in hot water.
We have reduced our water and electrical usage while we have increased our occupancy rate. The risk we took in building seems to be paying off, in large account to all of you... our wonderful Adventure Inn guests! Many thanks for your patronage and support.
We are now featuring some of our local art in our hallways. Ely is blessed with so much talent and we are honored to have a sampling grace our walls. Please feel free to look and even take something home.
We now plan on renovating as we can afford to, the back building. We would like to make changes to make the back building more energy efficient as well. Winter projects for Mark for many winters to come.
Summer in Ely has been hot. Timely rains but not quite enough as the lakes and rivers are low. Fishing has been good this summer and even I, have been able to bring walleyes to the boat and put up some good fighting with a northern or 2. Our farmers market is a hit and growing larger and Tuesday night life has been a great success as well.
Now that we are on the downward slope of summer, I look forward to another great season in Ely. Fall.
cooler temps, no bugs, mists on the lake, birds in migratory patterns. Please do consider visitng Ely in the Fall.

Monday, June 20, 2011

We are In our new INN!

I cannot believe it is the summer solstice and we are in our new building. I have been remiss on blogging but the energy and time was sucked up in the move. We made it just in time for our busy season. The rooms are quiet, peaceful, and so far we are getting rave reviews.  The solar (when the sun shines) heats the water as high as 175! It is amazing to see how hot and how fast the water becomes. One can understand why in eons past, the first humans worshipped the sun as their god.
Our tables and some of our beds are made from recycled white pine from the Old Globe grain elevator that was built in the 1880's. The old growth white pine was harvested from our area so in a sense, the wood has returned to its "roots". A creative and passionate fellow, Seth has designed and built our furniture. Please check out his website and designs. He is passionate about using all reclaimed lumber in his designs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Recycling an old building

It is time to remove the last old building that was part of the Adventure Inn and also a part of Ely's history. This old building was built on the site of Ely's old mink farm. In fact, there was a spring that flowed past the Inn. We discovered that when we dug the footings for the new building and struck water.
So we say good by to memories. some of our guests have fond memories and stories of what it was like before the Adventure Inn. 4 Star stories that brought tears of laughter.. and yes, we had complaints as well. It is an old, tired, cobbled building that has done its time and now needs to be laid to rest.
So, we are Freecycling the building. We have advertised to come and take windows, doors, usable toilets and furniture, sinks too. The siding is going and we have sticky notes placed on items that people are wanting to take. The Ely fire department will also use the building for a practice in search and rescue by filling the rooms with smoke.
 When the building is gone, we will be paving over and making better parking for our guests. So progress moves forward and change is coming to the Adventure Inn. We hope it is a change for the better and we hope that as we progress our carbon footprint is a small one.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Solar comes to the Adventure Inn in Ely


Late march, still temps below zero at night...will spring ever come. But.... the tilt of the earth has given more power to the sun and we are soon to capture some of the power for the Adventure Inn. We have gotten 10 of our panels up and 10 more will be up in a few days. It has been a learning process as at first the panels were hoisted up by man power. Grunt!! Then a crane came to the rescue and then the panels went up much easier.
The glass on the panels is similar to windshield glass on a car. 50mph winds and golf ball hail
should bounce off the panels without a crack. I hope I never have to find out.

We have 3 large hot water tanks that will store the hot water from the sun. We can use the hot water to provide showers to our guests, do our laundry and in the winter, the excess will run through the wirsbo piping in our cement slab. During our busy summers, there will be no excess as guests and laundry will use it all up.
Inside, the dry wall is being finished, tiling is beginning and mudding and taping of the drywall is
also in process. June is around the corner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New generation of recyclers

Sasha Edgington hard at work stripping plastic off of copper wire that he collected off the floor of the new building. He has dreams of the money he will make by selling the copper wire... What fun as he also turns the copper wire into creations of art (or guns)

Progress continues...on the inside

It is down to Nitty Gritty time as the electricians, plumbers, and inspectors come and go getting us ready to put up the dry wall. If every home was to be inspected as a commercial building, there would be a lot less problems for many homeowners...needless to say, our building will be safe! Even the Health department has a say in how the building is designed to make sure there will be no contamination or bug homes when I serve our delicious Blue Heron scones and Gene Hicks coffee.
My 2 sons have decided to make enough money to buy a snow mobile so they are reclycling all the copper wire bits and piping left behind. Every piece is picked up and peeled of its plastic coating. Our little recyclers.
Our solar panels will be here in 2 weeks and we are so excited to finally have them up and ready to work. Now... please send us more sun!
Our winter this year has brought us a lot of snow and cold... not much in the way of sunny days, other than the ones that also brings us the temps below zero for highs. Great for all the ones who love to play in snow.. myself included. However, this has been a huge challenge to our building....

Think spring...Think SUN!

Friday, February 11, 2011

About our solar installation

Conservation Technologies' background is in building construction, the performance of buildings, and energy issues in general. We sell and install energy efficient building supplies, Venmar heat recovery ventilation systems, and solar electric and hot water systems. We also consult in building design and performance. Conservation Technologies has a comprehensive support team that includes sales, installation and technical support professionals. We serve a growing area in the upper Midwest from our Duluth office.

Here are a couple of pictures of recent Solar Hot Water Installations:

Details of the Adventure Inn Solar Hot Water System:

Conservation Technologies will be installing 20 MN Made 4x10 flat plate solar collectors. The collectors are made by Solar Skies Mfg and are made in Alexandria, MN. These 20 4x10 collectors have a cold climate btu rating of 24,000 btus / collector / day. The total system will produce approximately 175 million btus/ year. This system will reduce the Adventure Inn’s Carbon Foot Print by 51,000 lbs / year.

Background on Solar Hot Water:

Solar water heaters, sometimes called solar domestic hot water systems, may be a good investment for families and for businesses. Solar water heaters are cost competitive in many applications when you account for the total energy costs over the life of the system. Although the initial cost of solar water heaters is higher than that of conventional water heaters, the fuel (sunshine) is free. Plus, they are environmentally friendly. To take advantage of these heaters, you must have an unshaded, south-facing location (a roof, for example) on your property.

Solar water heaters can operate in any climate. Performance varies depending, in part, on how much solar energy is available at the site, but also on how cold the water coming into the system is. The colder the water, the more efficiently the system operates. In almost all climates, you will need a conventional backup system. In fact, many building codes require you to have a conventional water heater as the backup.

Contact Information: Please call 218-722-9003 or email info@conservtech with any inquiries

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another Winter Perfect Festival in frigid Ely

The effects of global warming are missing Ely this winter (or is it because of?) We have had incredible snow falls and not a day over freezing for almost 2 months. Temps down in the -20's and even down in the -40's one night. That being said, it has made Ely a perfect winter destination. We revel in it, we play in it, we carve in it! The first 2 weeks of February bring the Annual Winter Festival to Ely and with it comes the Snow carvings! Children, families, individual compete in amateur contests, and the Pro's come out to outshine each other. Every year, I believe they are the best ever, and this year is no exception. I am sharing just a few of the carvings this year and the deep freeze that we are experiencing is preserving them. All you southerners heed some advice. Come and experience a real winter for a vacation in Ely. We have dog sledding, snow shoeing, nordic skiing, sledding down Big Dutch (the only golf course that becomes killer sled runs in winter)
Ice fishing (yes, we Minnesotans haul houses on lakes and cut holes in the ice and fish) and for the true adventurer, winter camping in the BWCA. You can experience a sky far away from city lights, air as pure as you will find anywhere on the planet and silence. No where can you go and experience no sound. It is an incredible experience. It is so quiet out in the wilderness that you can hear the blood rush through your body and the buzz of your brain as it takes in the beauty. Winter in Ely is why we live here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Important Piece of the Puzzle

Another cold, windy, snowy day as these intrepid builders put the finishing touches on our roof.

Silver Birch Builders, Inc. is a remodeling and new construction company that strives to help people achieve quality, sustainable homes and businesses that minimize environmental impact, are cost effective and maximize energy efficiency and comfort. As a general contractor, Evan Faltesek's goal is to facilitate the many decisions involved in the building process to make the experience a smooth process for the client. Silver Birch Builders is knowledgeable and experienced in advanced building techniques for energy efficiency.

The crew at Silver Birch Builders, Inc. are both experienced and highly skilled. The four skilled carpenters have close to 50 years of building experience between them. The crew takes pride in their craft and they share their love of the northwoods with their clients. Customer satisfaction and building for durability for the long term are top priorities.

Not only are the crew from Silver Birch great builders but...... they are also some of  Ely's most eligible bachelors. So ladies, I highly recommend checking these guys out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blurb about our Architectural designers and our design


I wanted to provide information about our Architectural team as they have been crucial to our project. It is a bit long but I believe that what they have to offer is of benefit to anyone thinking of building a green building. They have been incredibly helpful and full of passion as we work together to make this happen. We highly recommend them to anyone who is planning to build a green building whether it be for personal use or commercial.

About Us
Rachel Wagner and Doug Zaun are the owners and principals of Wagner Zaun Architecture, located in downtown Duluth, MN.  Together they nurture a business and a philosophy with a commitment to client service, inspired design, community involvement, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.
Doug Zaun                                                                                   
Rachel Wagner 

About our Work
Services include architecture, research, and consulting; utilizing a creative and communicative process, and emphasizing environmentally preferable practices and materials. The standard for all work is based on the conviction that good design supports communities and enhances both the built and natural environment.  Our integrated approach defines sustainable design as that which balances the needs of individuals and communities, conserves resources, adapts over time, creates beauty, provides comfort, and endures.

The most sustainable approach in architecture is to make buildings habitable with less energy input from fossil fuel sources. We typically strive to design a building to use half or less energy than would a typical building of the type.

Placing energy use as the highest priority does not mean that other elements associated with green design are not significant or important. In general, a green approach will emphasize the use of materials, assemblies, and systems that are durable, easy to maintain, and are not associated with health risks to occupants, installers, or the general public. In addition, the very design of the space can contribute to the sustainability of the structure.

About the Design of the Adventure Inn

The best design solution often comes when the process includes a vision, a few constraints and the opportunity to explore the unconventional. The Adventure Inn offered all three conditions, first defined by the Owners. We came later, and both process and solutions unfolded as we defined and developed the vision, the constraints, and the unconventional.

The Vision
  • A building that reflects the personality of its owners, with a feeling evoking the practicality and warmth of a farm kitchen
  • A simple, pleasing place where guests feel comfortable and welcome
  • A building that makes use of the sun’s warmth and light, evident both inside and out
  • Design, construction, and operation that signify environmental stewardship

The Constraints
·         Site limitations: property size, slope, topography, existing layout
·         Budget
·         A specific timeframe for construction

The Unconventional
·         A building form guided by a design for roof-mounted solar thermal collectors
·         Porch and balcony to encourage outside time and interaction with neighbors
·         Sleeping rooms all face east to welcome morning light and face the quieter street
·         A super-insulated building enclosure: extra insulation under the slab, in the SIP (structural insulated panel) walls, and in the attic
·         Insulated fiberglass window frames with triple pane glass
·         High performance ventilation system for energy efficiency and indoor air quality
·         Quiet, low energy radiant heating
·         As much as half the building’s hot water, and some heating, provided by the renewable energy of the sun
·         High efficiency air conditioning from a heat pump system
·         Space for flowers, owing to the green thumb of the owner

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Adventure Inn's trusses are up!

Yes!! It is January and we have between 3-4' of snow in the forest and piles of snow in town that are as big as houses, but our intrepid, hardy crew from Silver-Birch Construction managed to place all of our trusses on top of our new building without mishap. Single digit temps didn't phase them and in spite of the fact that cars would slow down and watch, they managed to keep those smiles on their faces. (or were they frozen there?) What made our roof so difficult is that we have 2 pitches and 2 roofs. The front roof faces the south and the pitch is steeper to accommodate the suns rays to the best advantage. The entire southern slope will be outfitted with Flat Plate Solar Thermal collectors this spring. These collectors are made right here in Minnesota.
The back roof has a more gentle incline and will be outfitted with rain gutters to collect rain water to be stored for use in the flower gardens in the summer. When the roof is enclosed and weather-proofed, we will be blowing in enough cellulose insulation to give the roof a R rating of 70! If you look closely, you will notice the house wrap on parts of the building already.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Honeymooning at the Leaning Cedar Tree Cabin in January

Most couples who plan a honeymoon in January will go some place warm and tropical. However, the Leaning Cedar Tree Cabin is the choice for an adventurous couple who are spending their honeymoon here in January. Our cabin is cozy with a wood stove to keep them warm and snuggling under the down blankets at night will add to their comfort. The hike to the outhouse might be a bit chilly, but the sauna will make up for that. The snow is perfect for snow shoeing and skiing the BWCA right now. Remote it is as they are probably the only humans for miles right now (unless a dog sled or two cruise by)
wolves howl at night and the snow tells tales of critters unseen but left tracks behind. And silence. A perfect place to celebrate a beginning of a life long partnership.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adventure Inn's R-40 Walls

Beginning in December, our SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) arrived from S. Dakota and our building crew began to put up the building. A bit like building with Legos. Each piece was numbered so the builders knew where each panel went. These panels are 10" thick and have a R value of 40. After the building is up, it is then wrapped with a polyerythane product to make the shell airtight. We are also installing triple paned windows. All guests windows will be facing east so no hot afternoon sun will be able in heat the rooms in the summer. In the winter, the building will be so insulated and airtight that we have a private joke that it will take 2 candles to heat each room. We want to conserve the energy needed to heat the building, but also to keep the rooms cooler in the summer when we are the busiest.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Adventure Inn's New building!


Welcome to the Adventure Inn blog. It has taken awhile to get going…but we are here now. We have begun our big project and can’t wait to share with all of you the process of building a solar thermal, super insulated, energy efficient addition.  Our goal was to replace the 2 older buildings with a new building that will help us reduce our energy usage by 50%.
We received a CERTS grant last year to help with the costs of our design and we have hired one ov Minnesota’s foremost green architects. Rachel Wagner of  Wagner-Zaun Architects in Duluth. Both she and Doug Zaun had many challenges to fit a new building on our small lot. We have open skies to the south which made it a perfect fit for our solar thermal. We also wanted to incorporate more green space for our guests and also to help with water run off.
We began the tear down the end of October. We Free-cycled as much of the old office building before the tear down. It was amazing the number of Ely folk who showed up and found uses of parts of our building.
Tear down and preparation went fast and soon we were ready to pour concrete. Our footings and the bottom of our concrete slab were insulated with 6" of strofoam. The slad had wirsbo piping stapled to the insulation before the concrete slab was poured. The snow stayed away until the final pour. For once we were happy that the fall was warm and the snow came late. Our wirsbo piping will be connected to our solar thermal so in the colder months we should be able to heat the building using the hot water created by the sun.