District Energy St. Paul operates North America’s largest hot-water district-heating system fueled by biomass. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a grant to study the potential for developing new district-energy systems in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Of particular interest was the area along University Avenue known as the Central Corridor, which follows the Green Line light-rail system between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
District Energy hired Barr to help assess the opportunities for developing energy districts within high-density areas of the metropolitan core. Barr provided GIS support and energy-use estimations for various areas within the 90-square-mile study. Combining a spatial-statistics algorithm with GIS mapping software enabled the generation of maps showing the areas of highest energy use. A ranking system for each cluster factored in total energy use, energy density per acre, potential for future growth, and other information, which in turn allowed District Energy to isolate clusters (“energy islands”) that held the most potential for contributing to a new energy district: those with clusters of heavy energy consumers and facilities with potential for waste-heat recovery.
District Energy used the information collected to assess the potential for increasing the energy efficiency of identified facilities, as well as for converting the systems of some facilities from burning fossil fuels to using renewable sources. Analysis of the study’s results allowed our client to create a blueprint for developing potential district-energy systems along the Central Corridor.
Senior Water Resources Engineer
Principal Emeritus Senior Environmental Engineer