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Affordable housing building in Duluth wins EPA award for energy efficiency

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An apartment building for homeless people in Duluth is the first multi-family housing project in Minnesota to receive an EPA award for energy efficiency. 

The Steve O'Neil Apartments have earned the EPA's Energy Star certification. That means the building is at least 15 percent more efficient than typical new construction. 

The building saves energy in several ways, from insulation and windows to water heating to lighting. 

Jeff Corey directs 1 Roof Community Housing, which helped develop the project. He said energy-efficient projects like this one ultimately benefit the residents. 

"Because at the end of the day, whether through rents or through purchasing of a home, low-income consumers are the ones who have to pay for what we construct," Corey said.

The $12.8 million affordable housing community opened in Duluth last December. It includes 44 apartments and a six-room emergency family shelter. It's named after former St. Louis County Commissioner Steve O'Neil, who passed away in 2013, in honor of his work on behalf of the homeless.

The building is one of only just over 100 apartment and condominium buildings that have received this EPA certification nationwide; only a handful are located in the Midwest.