The Wave – December 2020

Note from our Team

mechanical roomAs we head into the final weeks of 2020, I want to remind you that our team is here as a resource for your building’s heating and cooling operations. This has been an atypical year for building management and unfortunately that will continue into the new year.

During years of regular operation, your building occupants and tenants have often served as an early alert to something not working properly in your heating or cooling system. Calls for rooms or zones being too cold or too hot can help your building operator identify an issue. With fewer occupants, it is more important than ever to prepare your operations for the extremely cold weather that is likely in the coming months.

We recommend reviewing the District Energy Preventive Maintenance Checklist to make sure that your mechanical systems are in good working condition. Extreme cold can quickly highlight existing issues in your mechanical system. In our experience, we have learned that:

  • Equipment exposed to outside air is at increased risk.
  • Chilled water coils that are freeze prone should be drained and dried with warm air, not just compressed air.
  • Buildings that are programmed for work-week occupancy should be monitored over long or extremely cold weekends.
  • Buildings that have changed programming for reduced occupancy should be monitored during extremely cold weather.

Taking extra care during extreme weather events is critical to keeping your operations running smoothly. Our team has identified a few clues that could indicate that the building system may be having an issue:

  • Complaints of cold conditions from occupants in the building
  • Inability to properly heat the entire building
  • New or irregular noises coming from the pumps or piping system
  • Loss of pressure in the building’s hot water loop
  • Large swings in forecast temperatures causing potentially rapid freeze/thaw cycles for pipes and equipment

We recommend that buildings have an emergency plan in place, including contact information for HVAC contractors that may need to be deployed for emergency assistance. Your plan should also include the District Energy 24-hour emergency contact information in case you experience loss of heat and/or water 651.297.8955.

For more suggestions on low and no occupancy building care refer to the Ask the Engineer post.

Steve Rambeck
Director of Business Development

Commitment to Carbon Neutrality

tour of solar installationDistrict Energy St. Paul has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Our team has already made notable progress on carbon reduction targets through increasing efficiency, enhancing customer building performance, improving data and controls management, and upgrading production with higher efficiency equipment. In 2019, we built on this momentum with completion of a carbon neutrality plan for the system, resulting in the vision for decarbonization.

As we move toward our new goal, we will continue providing customers with sustainable and reliable energy solutions, while also staying true to our commitment to being cost-competitive.

To achieve regular reductions, the team also has an aspirational goal of 7% reductions each year, based on a commitment to efficiency improvements in production, distribution, and customer buildings. We hope to use this objective to advocate for the importance of these reductions with our customers and other stakeholders. A new energy efficiency program will be launching in the coming months.

You can find additional details about our carbon goals on the District Energy news page and read more on Ever-Green Energy’s website in the first-ever corporate social responsibility report (CSR) “2019 Impact Report” with a section focused on District Energy achievements and goals.

New Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District

Following successful examples in many cities, the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance has announced the formation of the Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District (SPDID).

The group’s first priority will be on security through a new Safety Communications Center opening January 1 that will coordinate streamlined communications between downtown outreach services, private building security teams, and the Saint Paul Police Department to ensure efficient and prompt responses to issues, emergencies, and events. Future phases will include a downtown ambassador program that will help with safety and cleanliness as well as visitor wayfinding and curated placemaking.

“Downtown improvement districts are a proven, private sector-led method of increasing safety, cleanliness, and vitality, lowering crime and commercial vacancy rates in communities large and small,” said Joe Spencer, president of the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. “The leadership of our commercial property owners has brought us here today, and the timing could not be more crucial as we look to protect and recover our downtown economy during COVID-19 and beyond.”

District Energy is a founding investor in the Downtown Alliance and our CEO and President, Ken Smith, serves on the Alliance Board of Directors. To learn more about the SPPID, visit their website.

First Virtual Operating Engineers Seminar

Operating Engineers SeminarOn December 10, 2020, we welcomed more than 40 operating engineers and building managers to our first virtual Operating Engineer Seminar. While we missed the in-person camaraderie and a hearty lunch that our traditional events provide, we were able to have a great conversation with our customers.

This year, the presentation focused on energy savings and building care during low occupancy. In addition to the COVID-19 related topics, we highlighted some energy efficiency approaches and resources as well as an overview of support that the District Energy team can provide to building operations.

Event materials are available online including the presentation slides and webinar recording.

If you have questions about the meeting information or your District Energy connection, please contact our team at 651.297.8955 or by email

Alex Sleiman, long-time employee, has passed away

Alex SleimanIt is with great sadness that we say goodbye to long-time employee, Alex Sleiman. Alex passed away on Monday, December 7, 2020. Alex has been a valued member of the team since joining the company in 1983 and was integral to the development of heating system in the 1980s and cooling system in the 1990s. In recent years, he transitioned from his full-time work with customers in Saint Paul to working part-time contributing his expertise to Ever-Green Energy’s system development and engineering team. He was an essential resource to helping newer engineers and helping our clients and partners design systems with a customer’s experience in mind. Alex was honored in early March for his many years of service to the company.

For District Energy, Alex covered all aspects of customer service from the initial customer connection design, customer proposals and sales, to ongoing customer support. Known as “Mr. District Energy” to the customers, Alex led District Energy’s customer service and sales for 30 years as the Vice President of Customer Relations. Legendarily, he wore through at least one pair of shoes each year from walking through downtown to visit customers.

Alex contributed greatly to developing the company culture by exhibiting the highest level of integrity and focus on excellent service. Alex will be greatly missed. Condolences for the family can be sent to District Energy St. Paul, Attention V. Sleiman, 305 St. Peter Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102.