A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of connecting with customers at our annual appreciation event. It is always a great way to learn more about what is changing in customer buildings, what is on the horizon for local businesses, and what is most important to our customers when it comes to District Energy services. Reliability, cost-effectiveness, and energy efficiency continue to top the list of important values to our customers. Our annual customer survey is another great opportunity for customers to share what is important to them and I encourage our customers to participate. We are listening, and we take your feedback seriously.
This cooling season provides a great opportunity to demonstrate how we are delivering on those values. Our efforts to improve cooling system efficiency have led to lower bills for our customers and three straight years of customer rebates. Some of that success was achieved through strategic improvements to our production equipment, controls, and operational protocols, and some of the gains have been realized in customer buildings. Working together to improve the efficiency of the system has reduced our peak electrical demand for cooling by 33% since 2016! Thank you for your efforts. It is truly a team effort. If you would like to learn more about how to manage your building’s cooling peaks, see our Ask the Engineer article. You can also contact our team to help you assess your cooling operations.
Energy efficiency and conservation are key efforts in our commitments to our customers and the environment. Since we announced the elimination of coal, our team has continued to prepare our operations to deliver the cost effective, reliable services that our customer expect. We also continue to plan for additional carbon reductions that align with our customers’ value to balance reliability and cost-effectiveness.
Thank you for your partnership in improving efficiency and supporting our environmental commitments. Enjoy the lovely summer weather.
Ask the Engineer – Equipment Selection & Operation
Providing our customers with services and support to achieve efficient building performance is a priority for District Energy. Did you know that our team can support your building projects and contractors by offering insights on mechanical design, equipment selection, and operational best practices so that your building can be heated and cooled to satisfy building occupants and operations?
Mechanical equipment that does not match the needs and function of a building, or that is operating outside of design parameters, can increase energy use and decrease comfort of interior spaces. Let us help you avoid the pitfalls and keep the building performing beyond expectations.
Selecting the right building equipment is an important step in your project. Having oversized or undersized equipment can lead to premature failure, increased maintenance, functional challenges, and inefficiencies for the life of the equipment. Whether you are designing a system for new construction, renovating a building, or replacing equipment, there are several things to consider when making your equipment selection:
- Assess building programing and needs.
- Document all building equipment connected to the building’s heating and cooling systems.
- Identify design temperatures on all equipment.
- Set the basis of design for the installation and document the equipment to be installed.
- Following District Energy St. Paul connection standards is a critical component to getting the most of your heating and cooling connection. Operating outside of those standards, including delta T thresholds, can lead to wasted energy and additional costs for your operations and ours.
The District Energy team is available as a resource for your next project to review drawings, process and instrumentation diagrams, and submittals. Our team has extensive experience with district energy installations and the additional review can help you save time and money while reducing frustration.
Once you have the right equipment in place, operating the equipment as designed can lead to the best results in efficiency and comfort. Operating equipment outside of the manufacturer’s parameters can lead to failure, malfunction, and inefficiencies. There are many reasons that systems can be operating outside of the original design parameters, and you can follow these steps in an effort to reset your system:
- Locate your system’s “as-built” documentation or detailed drawings of installed equipment. If you don’t have the documentation, work with your system contractor to get them.
- If your mechanical equipment was commissioned, the documentation would include detailed operational parameters.
- Create operational documentation to support consistency across operations staff and to help onboard new staff.
- As new equipment is added to the system, update operational documentation.
- If parameters are changed to achieved a specific result, like heat to one zone or meeting required Delta T, remember to reset system settings so that the temporary fix does not become the “norm”
It is important to take the time to select the right equipment to meet the needs of your building and its occupants. Your investment of time can avoid additional costs, project setbacks, and operational frustrations. Once you have the right equipment in your building, operating your system within the design parameters will help you get the most out of your system. The team of experts at District Energy can help support your efforts every step of the way. We can offer insights on mechanical design, equipment selection, and operational best practices. Please contact our team at 651.297.8955 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask the Engineer: Efficiency Gains with Cooling Start Up
As summer warms up, review a few key activities that can help you optimize your cooling system and manage monthly cooling demand. These efforts include starting equipment at minimum speed and ramping up to operating conditions, staging individual equipment start up schedules, and tuning flow control.
A Home Run for Kelliher Public School
To engage students in the conversation around sustainability in Minnesota, District Energy St. Paul and the St. Paul Saints invited students across the state to submit their ideas to our Big Ideas for a Sustainable Minnesota video contest. Three finalist schools were invited to a St. Paul Saints game at CHS Field in early June, where the first place winner was announced and their winning video was played on the jumbotron. With their video on invasive species awareness, Kelliher Public School was awarded the first place prize of $5,000 for sustainability programming at their school.
Thank you to the video contest judges including Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Metropolitan Council Parks Ambassador Amanda Lovelee, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Sustainability Coordinator Carla Inderrieden—all strong proponents of building sustainable and resilient communities.
Welcome New Customers
We would like to welcome back two repurposed customer buildings to the District Energy St. Paul system, Press House Apartments and the Jax Building. It has been a pleasure to work with the new building owners throughout their renovations. Press House Apartments is a remodel of the former Pioneer Press building into 144 affordable apartments. The Jax Building renovation is also offering loft-style one and two bedroom apartments.
We would also like to welcome a new customer, R7 Lofts. R7 Lofts is a remodel of a 100-year-old office building at the corner of East 7th Street and Robert into 48 boutique loft-style apartments starting in July.
Thank You to Our Customers
Thank you to all who joined us at CHS Field for our 2019 Customer Appreciate Day. Each year we use this opportunity to thank you for your business and connect with you over good food and great conversations. This year, we enjoyed the view from the beautiful Securian Room at CHS Field and a tour of the ballpark. If you were not able to make it, we hope you join us next year.
World’s Largest Game of Catch
It was wonderful to connect with downtown Saint Paul employees and residents at the World’s Largest Game of Catch at Union Depot—kicking off the St. Paul Saints’ 2019 season. District Energy has been a long-time sponsor of this event, and we love having the Saints and CHS field with us in downtown. This is a great opportunity for our team to interact with the people who live, work, and play in our customer buildings.