Saint Paul on the Forefront of Green Practices

The City of St. Paul has been working hard to ensure that it stands out as a community that not only cares for the environment, but sees the money saving value green technology potentially offers.  I went back through my previous posts to find all of the ones I wrote about how Saint Paul has been evolving towards a more earth-friendly community.  I even surprised myself with how many I found!

Working backwards, there was the article I wrote about a Macalester College student who was recently recognized as an environmental leader; a great story about youths in Dayton’s Bluff being honored for their anti-littering work; and a recycling collection program at the Como Park Zoo.  Additionally, the City of St. Paul works hard to preserve its urban canopy and has committed a large percentage of its lands for green spaces.  Finally, more activities occurring in St. Paul emphasize the benefits of an eco-friendly lifestyle, most recently with the 2008 Minnesota Solar Home Tour and the Eco-House at the Minnesota State Fair.

Phew, that’s a lot!  It should come as no surpise, then that the rest of this post will discuss two new green living practices in which the City of St. Paul will participate.

First, St. Paul can now proudly say it is the first city in the world to feature solar-powered hubs for its plug-in car-sharing program.  Sound a little confusing? I’ll explain. The Neighborhood Energy Connection HOURCAR program serves more than 650 in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region.  People that use the programs seek transportation and energy alternatives to protect the environment while still enjoying the benefits of urban living. 

Two of the cars it offers through its car-sharing program are hybrid Toyota Priuses, which must be plugged-in to standard 120-volt electric outlets when the cars are parked.  Now, the electricity the cars receive from those plugs will be generated by 2-kilowatt grid-connected solar systems. The recharging stations provide electricity to HOURCAR hubs located at Saint Paul’s Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-Op and Minneapolis46th Street Hiawatha light rail station.  The co-op is also now partially powered by solar power.

The solar systems were made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security, a division of the Minnesota Department of Commerce.  HOURCAR operates 16 low-emissions vehicles in hubs throughout Minneapolis and Saint Paul. HOURCAR plans to expand is fleet to 26 vehicles in 2009 by partnering with hub sponsors who partially subsidize the cost of a new car.

Okay, secondly, the St. Paul Police Station has become the first LEED Certified public building in the Capitol City. The St. Paul Western District Police Station has opened its new facility as the first LEED certified public building in St. Paul. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance “green” buildings.

The new building boasts 48% more energy efficiency than traditional commercial architecture. Over a dozen energy efficient measures are employed in the facility including:

  • High Efficiency Lighting
  • Occupancy Sensors
  • High Efficiency Heating and Cooling
  • Storm water management: 100% of storm water contained onsite.
  • Water efficient landscaping and shade trees
  • 13% of products used in this building were recycled

LEED is a third-party certification program that gives building operators the tools they need to have an immediate impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

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