St. Paul Convention Center Cuts Energy Bill $50,000

RiverCenterA lighting retrofit on a parking ramp at the RiverCenter convention center in downtown St. Paul, Minn., has cut the facility’s energy bill by $50,00 a year, according to Minnesota-based energy efficiency partnership Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERT).

The project has been so successful that it serves as a model for other parking ramp projects nationwide, according to CERT.

The retrofit was supported by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the US Department of Energy, a program designed to help local governments retain jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy use.

RiverCenter (pictured) and the City of Saint Paul converted 1,087 high pressure sodium lights to new, energy-efficient fluorescent lamps, a project that cost nearly $126,000. However, the RiverCentre received over $44,000 from the Energy Department block grant and an additional $73,000 in rebates from Xcel Energy, the city’s electricity provider.

The retrofit reduced the parking ramp’s energy usage by 47 percent, equal to more than $50,000 a year in energy savings. On top of the reduced operating costs, the new lights are longer lasting than the ones they replaced, which reduces money spent on maintenance. The project has saved almost 7 GWh in electricity, according to CERT, but the body does not say over how long.

On the south wall of the parking ramp is a 82kW, 348-panel, solar photovoltaic system, installed by Hunt Electric. The system is expected to generate about 100,000 kW annually for the RiverCentre, CERT says.

St. Paul also used EECBG money to install two electric vehicle charging stations on the roof of the parking ramp.

In March, St. Louis announced that it had improved the efficiency of its City Hall building via the EECBG program. Before making upgrades, the city conducted an energy audit of the building and determined that when taking into account the total number of hours in the year, the building was only occupied 40 percent of those hours. The city saw an opportunity to reduce energy use for the other 60 percent of the year when the systems require minimal operation. EECBG funds were leveraged for HVAC retrofits, internal lighting upgrades, direct digital control upgrades and whole building lighting upgrades, resulting in energy savings up to 50 percent.

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