Every fall, as the kids head back to school, I find myself contemplating the education cycle and the role our company has played in helping others learn about energy. Our organization’s core purpose is to provide our customers with reliable and affordable energy solutions; however, our mission also extends beyond energy delivery. We are committed to playing a role as a community model for energy and using our system to educate others. Each year, we utilize our tour program and partnerships to connect with our customers, local educational institutions, community members, as well as international visitors. In turn, we learn from our partners, which help us advance our business and our system.
District Energy is an internationally recognized community energy system and our unique experience results in on-going requests to share our best practices and insights with planners, researchers, students, and industry partners. We host hundreds of visitors each year that are eager to learn about how technologies work and the role energy plays in a community. In order for these efforts to be successful, we count on our highly-trained staff that share their time and experience with these eager learners. They serve as mentors, educators, and collaborators to our partners and the next generation. We have also enhanced our outreach efforts by creating new educational materials that explain how our system works to help our visitors understand the interworkings of an integrated energy system. We will be leveraging these new resources to reach interested parties through our website, trainings, and other outlets.
We will also continue an important education tradition this fall, with the return of our annual Operating Engineers Seminar on October 29. Building managers, operating engineers, and other facility staff will have a unique opportunity to learn from a fellow operating engineer and our customer service team. We are also excited for our customers to meet Bob Ford, a recent addition to our customer service team.
Education is important to our mission because we believe that once individuals and organizations better understand their own energy system, they can become a better steward of that resource. Over the next year we will continue to develop our educational efforts, which we look forward to sharing with you.
Operating Engineers Seminar
On Wednesday, October 29th, District Energy St. Paul and District Cooling St. Paul will be hosting our annual Operating Engineers Seminar: Demand Savings through Automation System Management and Equipment Recommissioning. Tom Peterson, facilities manager at Minnesota Public Radio and the Fitzgerald Theater, will describe the system efficiency improvements that he has implemented to scale down demand, save money, and reduce the environmental impact. District Energy customer service engineers Jeff Volovsek, Jonathan Martens, and Bob Ford will discuss heating and cooling demand and answer your questions. The event will be held at Bedlam Lowertown and run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and lunch will be provided. Do you know someone who’d like to attend? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and for further details.
Plan for your fall preventive maintenance with our fall check list.
Welcome Bob Ford
The District Energy Customer Service team welcomes a new member, Bob Ford, Energy Engineer. Bob has experience with district energy, specifically in customer-side energy efficiency. His recent experience includes supporting the district heating system at the University of Minnesota in energy management which included HVAC, controls, lighting, and various other energy technologies. He also has experience in commissioning and project management.
Bob is looking forward to meeting more customers and better understanding their building systems. He said, “District Energy has a strong foundation built on those who came before me and my colleagues today, and I look forward to working with them to expand our services to more customers in Saint Paul.”
Bob received his Associate’s Degree in Construction Project Supervision from Dunwoody College of Technology and then continued his education with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Our team is very excited to share an advanced summary from the United Nations Environment Programme and ICLEI on “District Energy in Cities: Unlocking the full potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy.” This summary is the first of a series of tools within the new District Energy in Cities Initiative—in support of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) EE Accelerator Platform.
These international agencies promote the use of district energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, improve energy efficiency, integrate renewables, increase resilience, and spur the green economy. District Energy St. Paul is thrilled to be highlighted in this report alongside Munich, Paris, Oslo, and Qatar as systems providing multiple benefits through district energy infrastructure.
Annual Budgets Available to Customers
District Energy and District Cooling provide customers with their annual budgets, making it easier for customers to plan for and manage their building operations for the coming year. This year we shifted the budgets to electronic delivery and expect this will make things even easier for our customers. If you need additional copies or information about the annual budgets, please contact our customer service team. To stay up-to-date, be sure that we have your contact information.
District Energy among Partners for Knight Foundation Project
Our team will be working with a group of artists who are developing a light projection project that will highlight our sustainable operations in the heart of the city. The project hopes to invite the community into a conversation about our collective energy use and the significance of using renewable and efficient sources. We expect that this effort will be a great educational tool for Saint Paul and other communities we engage. We are looking forward to this unique project and the exploration of where energy and artistry intersect.
New Educational Tools
For years, District Energy has welcomed students, teachers, engineers, government officials, energy enthusiasts, and so many more to tour our plant and solar installation. A plant in the city, using renewable energy, and using a public-private business model, has drawn interest from around the globe. Plant tours are a great tool to share our story and gain support for better energy solutions, and we are always looking for ways to improve that experience and share it with more interested parties. So this year we created new tour signs and brochure to help our guests understand the interworking of the plant, including explanations of our different boilers, combined heat and power, thermal storage, fuel intake, solar thermal, and district heating and cooling. Inside the plant, these signs will increase guest comprehension, and we hope this information will also serve as a great web resource. Outside of the plant, we are adding new signs to our front windows, as part of our ongoing efforts to create a Saint Paul “EcoDistrict” where visitors to our corner of the city can learn about energy, environment, and sustainability.
EcoDistricts Summit Participation
Members of the District Energy team joined the EcoDistricts Summit in Washington D.C. in September. The event gathered individuals from around the world to discuss district-scale sustainable development that helps to create neighborhoods that are resilient, vibrant, resource-efficient, and socially equitable. District energy systems were featured as an energy model that is efficient and that can reduce carbon emissions for these projects and for communities. The conference will bolster District Energy’s efforts to create a Saint Paul “EcoDistrict” where visitors to our corner of the city can learn about energy, environment, and sustainability. This EcoDistrict experience is under development through a partnership between District Energy, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Saint Paul RiverCentre, the City of Saint Paul, and Visit Saint Paul. Visitors to downtown can already observe signs along Kellogg Boulevard and inside partner buildings to learn more about what makes our destination unique and how Saint Paul stands out among other cities as a sustainability leader.
Cretin-Derham Hall High School – Common Foundation for Company Leadership
With our company’s deep roots in Saint Paul, it is common to find connections binding many of our people together. Amongst these connections, five members of our company’s leadership share a unique history built within the walls of Cretin-Derham Hall, previously Cretin High School. Three of the board chairs of District Energy are alumni of the school Mark Rancone (current board chair), John Taylor (previous board chair, current Ever-Green Energy board chair), and Bernie St. Peter (previous board chair, who passed away in 2011), additionally, Ed Starr (previous board member), joins this prestigious list of alumni. In addition to the students, Tom Kingston was a faculty member and currently serves on the Ever-Green Energy board.
Cretin-Derham Hall’s history certainly predates District Energy, initiated in the 19th century when the school was founded. The school has shown a clear commitment to shaping young people through a well-rounded education. The values at the core of this education have an amazing intersection with the values of District Energy, academics, leadership, community, service, diversity, and equity. We are proud to share a history with this great institution and to benefit from the leaders they have groomed. It is clear that the values and education instilled in these great leaders continued through their impressive careers, community efforts, and service to advancing our company.
Two of these leaders provide insight into how their training at Cretin-Derham Hall influenced their commitments to our organization. District Energy board chair Mark Rancone served Cretin-Derham Hall as a hockey coach for over three decades. He said, “We all represent different generations influenced by our travels through the halls on Hamline Avenue. One value learned was that of education. Bernie St. Peter, a South St. Paul native, was instrumental in establishing a college scholarship foundation in his hometown. John Taylor has been instrumental in continuing the innovative academic excellence provided by St. John’s University in his role these past years in Collegeville. Ed Starr mentored many in his tenure at the St. Paul City Attorney’s office. Tom Kingston (my sophomore Geometry teacher) is regarded by me and my classmates as one of the dynamic, positive and energetic teachers that we were lucky to be associated with and was influential in my decision to become a teacher and coach. Another value that Cretin (and now CDH) instilled in all of us was that of volunteer service – demonstrated by our collective experiences on the District Energy Boards. I believe I can speak for Bernie, John, Ed and Tom that service opportunities such as District Energy promoting the benefits of renewable energy or others that we have all been involved in, and the many that I know CDH offers to its students, makes us all informed, conscientious and well-rounded citizens that contribute to society.”
John Taylor added to this sentiment, “We all learned respect, honesty and integrity at the hands of the Christian Brothers, who founded Cretin in 1871. Those values mirror the same founding principles of District Energy and Every-Green Energy. For the past thirty years, our customers have expected these same standards from their leadership team, and I believe we have more than delivered on our promises to the Saint Paul community. Our corporate passion is to make a difference; to help expand renewable energy systems throughout the U.S. As our CEO Ken Smith is fond of saying, ‘EGE is earning a strong reputation for exporting our integrated energy model and establishing this region as a leader in renewable and efficient energy systems.’ In addition to being with DE and EGE, for the past thirty-plus years, I also have had the privilege of serving Cretin as a Charter Member of its lay Board from 1966-1972, and as President of the Alumni Association in 1967.
We are grateful for the leadership that these Cretin-Derham alums have provided for District Energy. Learn more about our board leadership.