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$750,000-worth of energy-efficiency improvements help RiverCentre parking ramp go green

As the latest development in a larger project to go green at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, this week an 82-kilowatt photovoltaic solar installation was shown off on its parking ramp.

The 348 solar photovoltaic panels will produce 100,000 kilowatts of energy--or enough to run about nine homes each year, according to city information.  

Anne Hunt, who works for the city, says that when it comes to energy efficiency, “I’m not sure people think of a parking ramp," adding, "This is definitely the greenest ramp in the metro area."

It complements the $2.5 million solar thermal array that went onto the RiverCentre’s rooftop earlier this year, which is considered to be the largest of its kind in the Midwest, according to city information. (See the story from The Line here.)

The two installations, which use different solar technologies, will help the RiverCentre to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint by 2012, she explains.  

Looking all over the country, “I can’t find another public building that has two different solar technologies,” she says.

Other related energy-efficiency work has recently been underway at the parking ramp as well.

For example, high-pressure sodium lights were swapped out for energy-efficient fluorescent lamps, while a couple of electric-car charging stations have also been added, she says.  

Already, the building gets power from District Energy St. Paul, which “operates the largest, most successful, biomass-fueled hot water district heating system in North America,” its website states.

As one more layer to the project, the RiverCentre complex is part of the special Energy Innovation Corridor that highlights various energy projects along the in-progress Central Corridor Light Rail line.

Funding for the $750,000 worth of energy-efficiency measures at the ramp comes partly from the federal stimulus package.  

These initiatives save money while also producing clean energy, Hunt says.

Source: Anne Hunt, spokesperson, City of St. Paul
Writer: Anna Pratt
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