Celebrating MinnesotaÂ’s most energy-efficient building

The 160-foot-tall wind turbine and the four-foot-long organic cake were just the outward signs of a sustainability milestone. When Great River Energy celebrated the opening of its new headquarters in the spring of 2008, the building instantly ranked as Minnesota's "greenest" structure under the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Thanks to the turbine and a host of other state-of-the-art technologies inside its headquarters, the power company now practices what it preaches. The building's uses 50 percent less energy and 90 percent less water than a traditional commercial structure of similar size.

To focus public attention on its sustainable success story, Great River Energy turned to Padilla Speer Beardsley to develop a comprehensive publicity plan. Festivities for the building's Earth Day opening were carefully conceived and managed to elevate Great River Energy's story above the predictable one-day flurry of environment-related media coverage.

Padilla commissioned Le Cordon Bleu chefs to bake a cake-replica of the building using all local ingredients. Before the event, the cake was delivered via hybrid vehicle to Twin Cities NBC affiliate KARE-11 for a newscast that also featured Great River Energy experts explaining the building's sustainable attributes.

The cake was ferried back to its appointed spot at Great River Energy headquarters before the opening-day celebration, which landed coverage from every local TV-news affiliate, as well by the Twin Cities' two major daily newspapers and other print outlets.

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