The Wave – July 2018

Letter from the President

Ken Smith

Ken Smith

Since 2010 Saint Paul’s population has increased every year. Urban population growth is a trend that many metropolitan areas across Minnesota, the country, and the world are experiencing. As we have witnessed in Saint Paul, this trend has positive benefits like revitalized economic development and renewed social vitality. It also means additional expectations being placed on aged infrastructure planned and built for the demands of a drastically different era.

Cities around the world are working to build twenty-first century infrastructure that is responsive, resilient, and low carbon or even carbon free. For energy systems, consumers have always wanted services that are reliable and cost effective. While still top priorities, today’s consumers want more. More information about their energy use, more control over how and when they use energy, and more control over the source of their energy.

At District Energy St. Paul, meeting our customers’ expectations has always been at the forefront of our planning and continuous system advancement. We have a constant eye on improvements to better serve our customers and optimize our systems by making them smarter. Over the past four years, we have methodically modernized our metering systems while simultaneously working to collect and integrate vast amounts of data from the various control systems and equipment that are integral to our operations. This includes data from production assets, distribution piping, and metering systems in customer buildings. We are already seeing that customers are taking advantage of these investments by integrating our building-level, real-time data into their building automation systems.

These advancements are coming at an important time, as the City and our customers begin to work collectively to reduce energy and water waste by improving building performance. The City of Saint Paul is working to support building owners and operators to prioritize energy efficiency and has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Energy efficiency is key to achieving this goal. Our team is ready to support the City’s program, Energize Saint Paul, as they build their resources and tools to assist building managers in their efforts. This summer Energize Saint Paul is encouraging commercial, multi-family, and public buildings to implement energy efficiency strategies for the cooling season. Through their challenge called Race to Reduce, buildings are encouraged to track their energy data from June through August, while also engaging in training and community events. We are proud to be a partner in this work and are excited to use some of our new benchmarking and data management tools to help our customers participate and see meaningful results.

IDEA awards

Ken Smith, Mike Burns, and Ron Anderson

Earlier this month, I joined industry peers at the International District Energy Association annual conference in Vancouver. District Energy was recognized together with the district energy systems in Chicago and Toronto. We received two awards—recognizing the total number of customer buildings contracted in 2017 and the total square footage of buildings contracted in 2017. This recognition acknowledges our customer loyalty and community support. Of course, as we see the results of our customer survey, we appreciate the direct affirmation from our customers that we are exceeding their expectations for reliability and service. We also appreciate how your constructive feedback helps us continue to do better. Thanks to all of you for your continued engagement with us.

As we work toward advancing Saint Paul’s energy infrastructure, we will continue to collaborate with you to customize solutions that meet your needs. Together we can save energy and save money, while driving innovation and improvements.

Osborn370 Becomes Home for Tech Innovators

Osborn370 exteriorFor most of the last 50 years, the only way to get into the skyscraper at 370 Wabasha was to have an appointment with Ecolab. Today, the former Ecolab headquarters building is teeming with high-energy innovators who are creating new companies. Now known as Osborn370, the 20-story tower is being reimagined as a home for innovators, entrepreneurs, and the services that support them.

After Ecolab moved to the former Travelers building, the Osborn370 building was purchased by a team of local investors with a vision for providing a better platform to Saint Paul’s technology economy. The idea is to populate the building with a community of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and innovators who can grow their businesses in a collaborative environment. The building offers custom designed class A office space along with an array of shared spaces, a community floor designed to encourage collaboration and group work, a redesigned lobby that will include a coffee shop, a branch of Bridgewater Bank, and casual gathering and meeting spaces.

The first company moved into Osborn370 on the day the new ownership took control in June 2017 and there has been a steady stream of new tenant announcements since then.

As evidence of the unique entrepreneurial environment growing at Osborn370, technology business accelerators are choosing to locate in the building. They include:
American Public Media’s Glen Nelson Center. The Glen Nelson Center will invest in startups aligned with APM’s mission and launch new businesses on the frontier of media and technology.

Lunar Startups. A collaboration of the Glen Nelson Center and the Knight Foundation, Lunar Startups will incubate and accelerate early-stage, high-growth startups with a strong commitment to entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities.

Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Program. Over the next three years, the Techstars accelerator program will bring 30 new early-stage companies to Saint Paul to accelerate their growth.
These organizations will invest and mentor dozens of growing businesses in Saint Paul in the coming years.

Also located at Osborn370 are the headquarters for SmartCare, KLJ, an engineering consulting firm, Bridgewater Bank, Paul Davis Restoration, Knight Foundation, Riverpoint Investments, Bootstrappers, and software companies Structural, OppSource, Lighthouse Software, and Reeher.

Osborn370 flex floorOsborn370 will also play host to tech business events. For example, more than 200 people recently took part in an event discussing racial equity in the technology sector sponsored by Twin Cities Blacks In Technology.

The building is now more than 60 percent leased. Construction recently began on the lobby renovation and the community floor, both of which are scheduled to be completed by August.

District Energy provides heating, cooling, and domestic hot water to Osborn370. Our team is pleased to continue to support innovation that is the hallmark of Ecolab’s enterprise and will continue with the companies choosing Osborn370 as their home. Ecolab joined the District Energy heating system early, signing a contract in fall of 1982 and coming online in October 1984 with 42 other customer buildings.

To learn more about Osborn370, contact Tanya Bell at Grand Real Estate Advisors Group/Westridge Properties at 651.253.5435 or

Energize Saint Paul

In May, the City of Saint Paul launched a new energy and water efficiency program, Energize Saint Paul, in partnership with District Energy St. Paul, Xcel Energy, Center for Energy and the Environment, Saint Paul Port Authority, Greater Saint Paul Building Owners and Managers Association, US Green Building Council, Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Our team’s collaboration with this initiative will include providing resources and support to building owners and occupants to reduce waste and save money while working toward an overall goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. The first initiative is the Race to Reduce – a summer program to reduce energy consumption in commercial, multi-family, and public buildings. From June to August participating buildings will benchmark their energy use in an effort to increase their energy efficiency, save money on energy bills, and contribute to making Saint Paul a more resilient city. Starting with the summer program, Energize Saint Paul will provide practical tools to improve efficiency and guidance on benchmarking as well as opportunities to meet with a network of building owners, operators, and experts.

Game of Catch

Game of Catch

Jenae Batt, Mudonna, and Steve Rambeck

It was fantastic to connect with downtown employees and residents at the World’s Largest Game of Catch while helping to kick off the St. Paul Saints’ 2018 season. District Energy has been a long-time sponsor of this event and it has been even more fun since the Saints moved to Lowertown. This is a great opportunity for our team to interact with the people who live, work, and play in our customer buildings. Our team also participated in the Saints 26 for 26 celebration at the home opener, with our own Steve Rambeck throwing out the first pitch, along with 25 other Saint Paul partners, including Mayor Carter!

Welcome Luke Davis and Kevin Scott

Luke Davis and Kevin Scott

Luke Davis and Kevin Scott

Luke Davis and Kevin Scott have joined the Ever-Green Energy team and will be supporting District Energy customers in Saint Paul.

Luke is a Senior Engineer and a familiar face at District Energy. He has worked as a mechanical engineer and consultant on several projects in downtown Saint Paul including the RiverCentre solar thermal installation. His father worked as a pipefitter and control fitter, and his own educational and professional background have focused heavily on mechanical work. He was an industrial tech mechanic for Honeywell at their circuit board manufacturing plant for six years while he was also working on his associate’s degree at Century College and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at University of Minnesota. Luke has extensive experience in green energy systems, mines (both metallic and non-metallic), and plant operations (ethanol production and soy extraction). Luke is a licensed professional engineer in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Luke is excited to join the District Energy team and eager to collaborate on challenging and forward-thinking projects. He said, “District Energy and Ever-Green are always exploring new and innovative ways to increase energy system efficiency and tap new energy sources when they are practical solutions. Right out of the gate I have been assigned to several projects that I would have been extremely happy to work on in my last seven years of consulting.”

For Kevin, coming to work has to feel like déjà vu, since he worked for Wold Architects and Engineers that owned the Jemne Building before District Energy. Kevin is an Associate Engineer with a wide range of interests from thermodynamics and fluids to physics and philosophy. His work has focused on designing HVAC and plumbing systems for the public sector. Kevin received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Dakota State University and recently passed his exam to become a licensed professional engineer in Minnesota.

Kevin is looking forward to working with new customers to streamline service connections and working with existing customers to optimize their operations through control strategies and design practices. Like Luke, Kevin is enjoying the variety of projects at District Energy. He said, “It is great to work on a team that values energy efficiency and green design. Engineering is about finding the best solution to solve a specific problem in a specific situation, and I am looking forward to working with our customers to help them find their best solutions.”