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GreenStep City Best Practices Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings
no. 1

Benchmark energy and water usage, identify savings opportunities in consultation with state programs, utilities and others to implement cost-effective energy and sustainability improvements.
  Best Practice Action 7      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ]       [all actions]

Install for one or more city-owned/school buildings one of the following efficiency measures:

a.  A ground-source, closed loop geothermal system.
b.  A district energy/microgrid system.
c.  A rainwater harvesting system for building water use.
  • Geothermal heating systems can increase greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over high-efficiency natural gas furnaces due the higher CO2 emissions from the typical coal-fired electricity in Minnesota that runs the geothermal pump. Thus a geothermal system replacement should be analyzed for CO2 emissions, which can be lowered by purchasing renewably generated electricity from sources like wind.
  • District energy describes a system that produces and distributes one or more of heating, cooling, and electricity for buildings in a neighborhood-scale distribution network. Various ownership and operating models are available for locating generation close to the load being served. This improves the net efficiency of fuels, lowers costs, improves reliability and resiliancy (U.S. DOE: 2013), and reduces emissions. The most popular and mature technology uses gas turbines to co-generate heat and power (CHP), utilizing waste heat to drive absorption chillers for cooling. Once the grid is set up, users can incorporate renewables like solar or wind. See the in-depth report Minnesota Microgrids: Barriers, Opportunities, and Pathways Toward Energy Assurance (Microgrid Institute: 2013), which takes an in-depth look at regulatory barriers to and opportunities for microgrid development to enhance energy assurance in the state of Minnesota, with recommendations to address barriers and identify pathways to facilitate microgrid development.
  • The Combined Heat and Power Action Plan (October 2015) synthesizes MN Department of Commerce findings to inform clear and achievable recommendations that could help lead to potential CHP implementation in Minnesota.
  • A 2005 microturbine installation at the Hennepin County Home School (Minnetonka) resulted in annual utility savings of $8,000.
  • For actions and resources related to renewable energy generation/distribution, and combined heat and power, see GreenStep best practices #26 ( Renewable Energy ) and #29.6 ( Resilience ).
Geothermal systems should meet a minimum coefficient of performance of 3.3 for closed loop systems.
Use a waste heat stream to heat one or more buildings; create a district energy system/microgrid for several buildings (using waste wood, geothermal energy, gas turbine, fuel cell); harvest rainwater.
Integrate solar thermal or other renewable production into a combined heat & power system; use the constant temperature of drinking water pipes in a geothermal system.

Saint Paul

Date action report first entered:   09/24/2014
Date of last report update:   09/24/2014

Implementation details:
a. Arlington Hills Community Center has a geothermal system in the building. b.The City has several buildings that are connected to District Energy St. Paul including the Griffin Building, Central Library and City Hall/Courthouse.

Descriptive links: http://arlingtonhillscc.com/, www.stpaul.gov/energy

For more information contact:
Jim Giebel (City staff)   |   Jim.Giebel@ci.stpaul.mn.us   |   651-266-6138

District Energy St. Paul, Xcel Energy

View All Saint Paul Actions


Date action report first entered:   11/22/2016
Date of last report update:   11/22/2016

Implementation details:
Duluth Energy Systems is a steam plant owned by the City that has provided steam to several city buildings as well as downtown businesses for the past 80 years.

Descriptive links: http://www.duluthenergysystems.com/about/

For more information contact:
Alex Jackson, Energy Coordinator (City staff)   |   ajackson@DuluthMN.gov   |   218-730-4433

View All Duluth Actions

Elko New Market

Date action report first entered:   12/25/2015
Date of last report update:   01/21/2016

Implementation details:
The City of Elko New Market's Public Works building has recently constructed and now operates a storm water harvesting system. A storm water drainage pond is used for building water use whereby water taken from a holding pond on-site is filtered and reused for 1.) heating the building via a hot water floor heating system and 2.) the water is reused in the public works building for operations. Furthermore, the Public Works building has been retrofitted with 3-pane skylights and a circulating fan air circulation system.

Descriptive links: http://www.ci.enm.mn.us

For more information contact:
Mark Nagel (City staff)   |   mnagel@ci.enm.mn.us   |   952-461-2777

Bolton & Menk, Inc.

View All Elko New Market Actions

Grand Rapids

Date action report first entered:   07/11/2012

Implementation details:
In Decemeber of 2011 a wide gap plate heat exchanger was installed at the Grand Rapids Public Library which utilizes waste water from the Blandin Paper Co.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Use of this new heating system has reduced our natural gas usage by nearly 70%.

For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff)   |   jakennedy@grpuc.org   |   218-326-7024

Gartner Refridgeration and Temperature Control Duluth MN.

View All Grand Rapids Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/29/2014

Implementation details:
Although not solely within the jurisdiction of the City of Mankato, development of the Breckenridge Townhomes affordable housing project located in neighboring Eagle Lake was overseen by City staff as part of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), in conjunction with Blue Earth County staff. These townhomes were planned and developed in accordance with Minnesota Green Communities standards, and included preservation of wetland areas, maximum utilization of passive solar heating/cooling, native plantings as part of raingarden and bio-swales, and Energy Star standards for construction and furnished appliances. Roof panels were also designed on an East/West axis to easily accommodate future solar panels. Additionally, the Orness Plaza Apartment Complex, owned and operated by the Mankato Housing and Redevelopment Authority, received grant funding to assist with its rehabilitation. The 1970s era building has been revitalized with a geothermal heating system and central air conditioning, among other improvements, and has been granted LEED certification. Reserved parking stalls for designated fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles have also been included as part of the rehabilitation program. A passive solar array was integrated into the roof of the recently-renovated Public Safety Center building in late 2013.

            view file

For more information contact:
Molly Westman (City staff)   |   mwestman@mankatomn.gov   |   507-387-8571

Blue Earth County, City of Eagle Lake

View All Mankato Actions

Maple Grove

Date action report first entered:   03/11/2013

Implementation details:
The City of Maple Grove's Government Center uses a closed loop Geothermal system that utilizes the human made groundwater ponds that were dug in the gravel mining area. The success of this system (i.e. energy savings and quick payback) led Great River Energy and Hennepin County Library to construct similar systems at their facilities.

For more information contact:
Peter Vickerman (City staff)   |   PVickerman@maplegrovemn.gov   |   763-494-6046

View All Maple Grove Actions


Date action report first entered:   10/15/2013

Implementation details:
Olmsted County's Waste to Energy facility uses solid waste to heat and cool, as well as provide electricity to most of the Government buildings on the campus as well as some other city owned buildings. This is a very efficient system for the campus and is estimated to have saved 90% of waste that would have gone to a landfill from the County.

Descriptive links: http://www.co.olmsted.mn.us/environmentalresources/garbagerecycling/owef/Pages/OCDES.aspx             view file

For more information contact:
Phil Wheeler (City staff)   |   wheeler.phil@CO.OLMSTED.MN.US   |   507-328-7101

View All Rochester Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/20/2015
Date of last report update:   02/11/2015

Implementation details:
The Roseville Oval Skating Rink uses a geothermal system for heating and cooling and to make ice. Waste heat and ground source energy to warm buildings; heat pumps and exchangers then cool the facilities and make ice.

For more information contact:
Ryan Johnson (City staff)   |   Ryan.johnson@cityofroseville.com   |   651-792-7049

View All Roseville Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/23/2013

Implementation details:
A closed loop geothermal system has been installed in three city facilities, including: Woodbury City Hall in 2007, Bielenberg Sports Center in 2009, and the Public Safety Building in 2011.

Outcome measures/metrics:
The Woodbury City Hall project included a 13,841 square foot expansion to the current building. In addition to the geothermal system, other energy efficiency upgrades included lighting and occupancy sensors, and an energy management system. Even after the expansion, the total energy used at City Hall has remained steady compared to energy use prior to the expansion. The geothermal system at the Bielenberg Sports Complex replaced the existing ice arena refrigeration system. Other energy improvements included low emissivity ceilings, and an energy management system. Following project completion, total energy use at the facility dropped 35% in 2010 and has continued to drop each year after.

For more information contact:
Jennifer McLoughlin (City staff)   |   jmcloughlin@ci.woodbury.mn.us   |   651-714-3522

View All Woodbury Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/29/2012

Implementation details:
Mower County Justice Center Complete, 50 ton GX system and Packer ice arena 200 ton GX system

For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer)   |   janetanderson2840@gmail.com   |   5072190680

Mower County, Park & Rec

View All Austin Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2012

Implementation details:
A closed loop geothermal system was installed in the Burnsville Ice Center in 2010. This rennovation made the ice center one of the most efficient and sustainable ice arena nationwide. When it came time to replace the aging mechanical and ice systems at the 38-year old Ice Center, improving efficiency by implementing sustainable design practices, as outlined in the Citys 2008 Sustainability Guide Plan, was a top priority  11 of the 14 Best Practices Areas (BPAs) identified in the guide were incorporated in the project. The project was funded by an Energy and Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, a Dakota Electric Rebate, as well as city funds.

Outcome measures/metrics:
The Ice Center emits 20% less carbon, and uses 80% less natural gas annualy than pre-geothermal installation. The annual operating costs have been reduced by 43%. The actual coefficient of performance for the system has not been determined yet, however, it is a closed system. Over the next several years the City will be monitoring the system closely to determine its performance and to calculate the efficiency of the system.

View All Burnsville Actions


Date action report first entered:   08/04/2015
Date of last report update:   08/04/2015

Implementation details:
The City of Cologne has a closed loop geothermal field which heats and cools the City Hall. Cologne also entered into a contract to receive solar energy from municipal solar gardens which should be 100% off-setting the City's energy use in all public buildings as well as the two water towers, the lift stations and the wells.

For more information contact:
Jesse Dickson (City staff)   |   jessed@colognemn.com   |   952-466-2064

View All Cologne Actions


Date action report first entered:   09/07/2016
Date of last report update:   09/07/2016

Implementation details:
the recently completed Public Works facility utilizes a geothermal system.

For more information contact:
Anne Norris (City staff)   |   Anne.Norris@crystalmn.gov   |   763-531-1140

View All Crystal Actions


Date action report first entered:   12/01/2010

Implementation details:
The Delano Municipal Utilities in 2010 completed the installation and activation of a closed loop geothermal system. The system provides temperature control for the main power plant building, operated by the City's electric enterprise. The power plant building contains generators used to generate emergency power for the City and houses the administrative offices of the electric and water enterprises. The installation involved retrofitting the 80+ year old facility to this new technology.

For more information contact:
Phil Kern (City staff)   |   pkern@delano.mn.us   |   763-972-0565

Delano Municipal Utilities

View All Delano Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/19/2012

Implementation details:
Geothermal heating was installed at the Eagan Civic (Ice) Arena, which includes 33 new wells. The project was possible due to a $1.3 million federal grant from the DOE. The project was completed in September 2010.

Outcome measures/metrics:
33 new wells. The project was possible due to a $1.3 million federal grant from the DOE. The geothermal project added an additional electric meter in June 2010 to operate the new equipment that was installed. While the natural gas consumption decreased significantly, electrical costs remained the same or increased slightly from the pre-geothermal project. The addition of an enclosed training space within the arena along with additional daytime meeting rentals generated more people and use of the building, which added to the electrical consumption. The overall system continues to be monitored by Harris Companies, Dakota Electric and City staff to stabilize electrical use.

            view file

For more information contact:
Mark Vaughn (City staff)   |   mvaughn@cityofeagan.com   |   651/675-5592

View All Eagan Actions


Date action report first entered:   03/29/2012

Implementation details:
Complete: A closed loop geothermal system was installed at the Public Works building with a minimum coefficient of performance of 3.3. The facility was opened in August 2010.

For more information contact:
Tara Brown (City staff)   |   tbrown@edinamn.gov   |   952-826-1621

View All Edina Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:   11/24/2010
Date of last report update:   02/09/2015

Implementation details:
The Elk River public safety building features a ground source, closed loop geothermal system.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Efficiency measures in the building annually save: 22,110 gallons of water 1,472.34 gallons of oil 1867 pounds of air pollution (NOT emitted to the atmosphere) 9.73 cubic yards of landfill air space 12,964.86 Kilowatt Hours of energy!!

Descriptive links: http://www.tmiarchitects.com/#!municipal/c15do

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

View All Elk River Actions

Fergus Falls

Date action report first entered:   01/14/2016
Date of last report update:   01/14/2016

Implementation details:
Independent School District 544 (Fergus Falls) has installed the ground-source, closed loop geothermal system into their elementary school buildings. One of the schools (Adams Elementary) has a rain garden they operate. The Police Station also has installed a ground-source, closed loop geothermal system.

For more information contact:
Len Taylor (City staff)   |   len.taylor@ci.fergus-falls.mn.us   |   218-332-5418

View All Fergus Falls Actions

Inver Grove Heights

Date action report first entered:   05/06/2016
Date of last report update:   07/05/2017
Year action initially completed:   2012

Implementation details:
A ground-source, closed loop geothermal system was installed in City Hall in 2012. In 2016, solar panels (capacity of 796,000 kWh) were installed on the roof of City Hall and the Veteran's Memorial Community Center to supply energy to these buildings.

For more information contact:
Ally Hillstrom (City staff)   |   ahillstrom@invergroveheights.org   |   651-604-8511

View All Inver Grove Heights Actions


Date action report first entered:   08/22/2012

Implementation details:
The new Marshall-Lyon County Library was constructed in 2011 and features a closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system using 54 wells. The Geothermal HVAC system provides efficient heating, cooling, and snow melting.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Engineers estimate 2,605,000 kBtu and $36,000 saved per year, and a simple payback of less than 3 years after utility rebates.

For more information contact:
Mark Antony (City staff)   |   MarkA@marshallutilities.com   |   (507) 537-7005

Marshall Municipal Utilities, City of Marshall, Lyon County

View All Marshall Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/12/2011

Implementation details:
Completed installation of water-source, closed loop geothermal heat pump system at our Public Works facility. The system was designed to replace the traditional HVAC equipment that heated/cooled the facility. The new system utilizes an existing and clean energy source, the nearby water filtration facility.

For more information contact:
Jen Hassebroek (City staff)   |   jen.hassebroek@ci.oakdale.mn.us   |   651-730-2723

View All Oakdale Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/19/2016
Date of last report update:   02/14/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The Public Works facility is heated/cooled by closed-loop/ground source geothermal.

For more information contact:
Chris Link (City staff)   |   clink@richfieldmn.gov   |   6128619174

View All Richfield Actions

Saint Cloud

Date action report first entered:   05/13/2011

Implementation details:
Through the recent installation of a GeoExchange system at the Municipal Athletic Complex, the community has a highperformance green arena that reduces gas usage by 95% and electric usage by 30%. Nearly 4,000,000 gallons of water usage will be eliminated along with the yearly elimination of 300,000 pounds of green house gases.

Descriptive links: http://www.stcloudmac.com/

For more information contact:
Liz Kramer (City staff)   |   elizabeth.kramer@ci.stcloud.mn.us   |   320-255-7226

View All Saint Cloud Actions

West Saint Paul

Date action report first entered:   01/09/2019
Date of last report update:   02/22/2019
Year action initially completed:   2010
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The City of West St Paul built a new maintenance facility in 2010. This building included a geothermal system.

            view file

For more information contact:
Dave Schletty (City staff)   |   DSchletty@wspmn.gov   |   651-552-4152

Dakota County

View All West Saint Paul Actions

Mountain Iron pending

Date action report first entered:   09/25/2015
Date of last report update:   09/25/2015

Implementation details:
The City has installed photo voltaic solar panels to provide electricity for our City Hall and Community Center. At its peek the array provides about 19 kw of power.

Outcome measures/metrics:
The City has been monitoring energy savings since installation and on average we are saving about $250 to $300 a month

Descriptive links: http://egauge3204.egaug.es/

For more information contact:
Craig Wainio (City staff)   |   cwainio@ci.mountain-iron.mn.us   |   218-748-7570

IRRRB, Silicon Energy

View All Mountain Iron Actions

Saint Anthony pending

Date action report first entered:   05/05/2011

Implementation details:
The City has Point of Use of Generators at City wells that operate on demand with Xcel Energy. In addition, the City Hall building has the ability to be run by generator during the peak usage times. This allows these facilities to operate "off grid" for approximately 10-12 hours at a time depending on power demands.

For more information contact:
Jay Hartman (City staff)   |   jay.hartman@ci.saint-anthony.mn.us   |   612-782-3314

View All Saint Anthony Actions

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe pending

Date action report first entered:   04/13/2015
Date of last report update:   04/13/2015

Implementation details:
Completed feasibility study for wind and solar furnace on campus at the BugONayGeShig school.

For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff)   |   air@lldrm.org   |   218-335-7429

View All Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Peter Lindstrom, Local Government Outreach Coordinator, Clean Energy Resource Teams: 612/625-9634, plindstr@umn.edu, http://tinyurl.com/PeterCERTS