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City Council approves support for Towerside District Energy System

By District Energy posted 09-24-2021 16:26


City of Minneapolis


The Minneapolis City Council has approved a $2 million loan to the Towerside Innovation District to support the construction of an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) district energy system for heating and cooling buildings. This innovative district energy system will reduce carbon emissions, and represents one effort among many that the City is making to combat climate change.

The Towerside Innovation District has been developed over the last decade as a collaboration among the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and many other civic, business, and nonprofit partners, as a place to demonstrate sustainability and resilience through technology, partnership, and community-building. The project will be initiated in Prospect Park, with the potential to be deployed to dozens of current and planned buildings in the area.

“This project is a first of its kind in our region and represents an innovative approach to building a decarbonized future. These forward-looking projects also highlight the real world impact of investing in new green technology,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “It will take strong partnerships like this one with the McKnight Foundation, Ever-Green Energy, The Wall Companies and the Towerside Innovation District to continue making meaningful progress on our shared climate goals.”

Natural gas is currently the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Minneapolis, according to the City’s greenhouse gas emission inventory. While emissions from electricity and road transportation are falling, emissions from natural gas are not. Shifting building heating and cooling to rely on carbon-free geoexchange and electricity reduces fossil fuel dependence, lowers carbon emissions, and sets the example for other buildings and communities to adopt similar approaches.

“The action the Council took today shows that we meant what we said when we declared a climate emergency and committed the City to bold, aggressive action to fight climate change,” said Council Member Cam Gordon. “I’m optimistic that this will become a replicable model, and that large-scale developments not just in Minneapolis but all around our region will use this kind of green approach to heating and cooling buildings.”

A net-zero plan for Towerside has been studied by the Towerside partnership since 2012, initially identified as part of a slate of neighborhood-scale sustainability and resilience projects. Saint Paul-based Ever-Green Energy provided the technical and engineering leadership to the project.

“Innovative community projects require leadership from determined champions and creative collaboration by the stakeholders. Reaching this milestone has taken nearly a decade of diligence, problem-solving, and discovery with a strong coalition of partners. Together we are creating a sustainable solution for this community that can be replicated across many others, who will benefit from the persistent dedication to making this vision a reality,” said Ken Smith, President and CEO of Ever-Green Energy. 

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