Spring Updates – The Wave – May 2024


We have some exciting projects and customer care updates to share with you this month. Despite a few late season flurries, the Saint’s Baseball season has started, indicating that buildings are transitioning to cooling as outside temperatures continue to rise. If you have any questions or need assistance with your connection or have a building that switches from heating to cooling each season and want assistance coordinating with your mechanical contractor, please reach out to us.

As they say, Minnesota has two seasons—winter and construction. We have several distribution system projects planned, and we are committed to minimizing the impact of service interruptions to customers. The key to a productive construction season is our distribution team’s proactive planning and repair schedule to minimize road closures and disruptions. If you would like to know more about our plans or ongoing projects, feel free to get in touch with our team.

You may have seen District Energy in the news recently in relation to The Heights Community Energy project in Saint Paul. Our team is proud to share our recent partnership with the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Port Authority on this new project, which secured the first-ever MnCIFA loan for its geothermal heating and cooling system. Read more about this exciting new community-focused project in the article below.

Please reach out if you have any questions or need any support. We are always here and ready to help 651-297-8955 or info@districtenergy.com.

Steve Rambeck
Director of Business Development


St. Paul Saint’s Sustainability Partner

St. Paul Saints entertainer Roller Girl standing on Kellogg Blvd pointing at District Energy St. Paul's plantAs baseball season kicks into high gear, we are excited to highlight District Energy’s role as the sustainability partner for the greenest ballpark in America – CHS Field. The ballpark features rain water filtration, graywater reuse, and solar pv as well as sustainable practices like recycling, composting, and sustainable cleaning products and practices.

District Energy we provide reliable and renewable energy to the ballpark as well as educational information about our system. If you would like to learn more about District Energy or just stop by and say hello to our team we will have a table at the June 19 home game. We would love to connect with folks and share how partnering with the St. Paul Saints demonstrates how the energy we use can be for business and fun!

If you attend a Saints game this season, be sure to keep an eye out for District Energy and check out our featured video to learn more about how we support our home team.


Ask the Engineer: Prepare Your System for Cooling Season

Chilled water pumping and heat exchanger systems play a crucial role in maintaining optimal temperatures in your commercial and residential buildings. Efficient seasonal startup procedures are essential to maintain the smooth operation and longevity of these systems while maximizing energy efficiency. One of the benefits of being connecting to District Energy is that our team is always willing to assist with this process and provide guidance. In this article, we will outline a comprehensive startup procedure for chilled water pumping and heat exchanger systems, covering preparation, safety measures, and operational guidelines to provide a guide that your teams can reference as you move into cooling season.

Pre-Startup Preparation

  • Equipment Inspection: Before startup, thoroughly inspect the chilled water pump(s), heat exchanger(s), associated piping, valves, and control systems for any signs of damage, leaks, or corrosion.
  • Lubrication: Ensure that all moving parts, such as bearings and shafts, are properly lubricated according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Electrical Checks: Verify that electrical connections are secure and conduct a visual inspection of wiring for any signs of wear or damage.
  • System Pressures: Ensure that the system’s static pressure and expansion tank meets design intent. Fill with appropriately treated water to prevent air locked locations. Consult your water treatment vendor for water treatment guidance.
  • Control System Check: Test the control system, including sensors, actuators, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), to ensure proper functioning and communication.
  • Verify water chemistry to prevent any contamination, scaling, or corrosion inside the closed systems. Consult your water treatment vendor for water treatment guidance.
  • Replace new filter media in system filter, if applicable.
  • Verify chilled water coils have been filled and blead of any air

Safety Measures

  • For personnel safety and to protect equipment, maintenance tasks should only be performed by qualified and trained individuals.
  • Lockout/Tagout: Implement lockout/tagout procedures to de-energize and secure the system from accidental startup during maintenance or inspection.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ensure that personnel involved in the startup process wear appropriate PPE, including safety glasses, gloves, and hearing protection.
  • Emergency Shutdown Procedures: Review emergency shutdown procedures with all personnel involved, including how to stop the system in the event of a malfunction or hazardous situation.

Startup Procedure

  • Start the Chilled Water Pump: Gradually start the chilled water pump according to manufacturer specifications, avoiding sudden surges in flow rate or pressure.
  • Monitor System Pressure: Monitor system pressure gauges and check that pressure levels remain within the recommended range during startup.
  • Verify Flow Rates: Use flow meters to verify that chilled water flow rates meet design specifications and adjust pump speed or valve settings if necessary.
  • Heat Exchanger: Once the chilled water pump is operational, check the heat exchanger system, ensuring that valves are opened gradually to prevent water hammer effects. Verify differential pressure on both sides are within specifications
  • Monitor Temperature: Continuously monitor inlet and outlet temperatures on both sides of the heat exchanger to ensure efficient heat transfer and proper system operation.
  • Adjust Setpoints: Fine-tune control system setpoints for temperature, pressure, and flow rate as needed to achieve desired system performance. Note: District Energy’s chilled water minimum return temperature requirement is 56˚F.

Operational Guidelines

  • Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine maintenance tasks, including lubrication, filter replacement, inspection of mechanical components, and verify pressure differential across heat exchangers to prevent downtime and extend equipment lifespan.
  • Energy Optimization: Work with controls contractor to implement energy-saving strategies such as variable speed drives and optimized control algorithms to minimize energy consumption without sacrificing performance.
  • Monitoring and Remote Control: Utilize remote monitoring and control systems to monitor system performance in real-time and diagnose issues remotely, if possible.

Efficient startup of chilled water pumping and heat exchanger systems is essential for promoting smooth operation, energy efficiency, and safety. By following a comprehensive startup procedure, including pre-startup preparation, safety measures, and operational guidelines, operators can minimize the risk of downtime, optimize energy usage, and extend the lifespan of equipment. Regular maintenance and monitoring further contribute to the reliable and efficient operation of these critical systems. If you or your team has questions about this process or anything related to your district energy connection please contact our team at 651-297-8955 , email info@districtenergy.com, or support request form.


Customer Appreciation Day

We would like to thank you for your partnership and business. Please save the date for our Customer Appreciation event at lunchtime on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. We are looking forward to seeing folks in person and connecting over some lunch, plant tours, and conversation.

If you or your team is interested in attending please reach out to madalyn.johnson@districtenergy.com or 651-925-8129.


Ken Smith Named Most Admired CEO

Ken Smith, District Energy’s President and CEO has been named a Most Admired CEO by the Minneapolis Saint Paul Business Journal. Many of you know Ken and have collaborated with him on projects and community programming.

Ken’s first priority is our system customers and how our services support their work. His expertise and thoughtful leadership have made him a global leader in community-scale energy systems. He is actively engaged in industry, policy, and academic forums addressing the transformation of our energy system and is a frequently sought expert nationally and internationally. As the third President and CEO of District Energy, Ken has earned admiration from his colleagues and industry peers. His transparent and collaborative leadership style, coupled with his dedication to the wellbeing and economic growth of Saint Paul, have made him an asset to our community. Ken thinks big and has the leadership, knowledge, and drive to bring big ideas into reality. Congratulations Ken!


The Heights Community Energy Project

District Energy is supporting a new community district energy project at The Heights. The Saint Paul Port Authority is redeveloping the former Hillcrest Golf Course at the intersection of Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road, and the 112-acre, mixed-use redevelopment is designed to deliver 1,000 new housing units and 1,000 living wage jobs to Saint Paul. This initiative will introduce one of Minnesota’s first aquifer thermal energy storage systems.

The management and operation of the geothermal system will be overseen by a new entity, The Heights Community Energy, under the guidance of District Energy. As a longstanding partner to the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Port Authority, District Energy will provide our decades of experience to enhance the development of this system and to provide a broader opportunity for education about district energy innovation.

The Heights Community Energy secured a $4.7 million loan from Minnesota’s recently established green bank, the Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority (MnCIFA) — marking the first loan approved since its inception. The loan’s purpose is to facilitate the installation of critical infrastructure for the geothermal district energy system as roads and infrastructure and added this summer.

We are grateful to our collaborators including the City of Saint Paul, Councilmember Nelsie Yang, Saint Paul Port Authority, and community members including the Saint Paul 350 organization. This endeavor represents a significant stride towards constructing a low-carbon energy infrastructure, ultimately reducing utility expenses and carbon emissions for future residents, aligning with the environmental and justice goals established by the community for The Heights redevelopment.

The innovative energy system and new financing tool have captured local interest. You can see the recent news stories on the District Energy website.


Phil Lahde has Passed Away

Our team lost a great coworker when Phil Laude passed away on February 5, 2024. Phil joined Ever-Green in 2005, and was a maintenance expert for our operations. Phil’s primary focus was on District Energy heating and cooling production systems providing maintenance project planning, scheduling of maintenance activities, and the administration of our computerized maintenance management system. In 2018, Phil was promoted to Maintenance Supervisor, overseeing the maintenance team and materials purchasing to keep our systems running efficiently and reliably. Phil worked hard and took a proactive approach to system maintenance. Frequently, Phil would get a coworker and walk through the plant to look for opportunities for improvements. Beyond Saint Paul, Phil provided support, expertise, and guidance to the other systems managed by Ever-Green.

As a customer, unless you ran into Phil on the golf course or at a Wild game, you likely did not meet him. However, you have benefited from Phil’s contribution to our reliable energy delivery and our company’s philosophy of proactive and continuous maintenance. Phil will be greatly missed, and our team’s thoughts remain with his family.


We Are Hiring

Ever-Green Energy has a few job openings. Our team believes that this is a great place to work. Please share our job postings with your family and friends. Learn more.