Towerside has been developed through a partnership with local community leaders in the public and private sectors, with the focus on implementing a micro-grid energy system for this redevelopment area. The district is a 370-acre site that stretches between Minneapolis and Saint Paul on the eastern edge of the University of Minnesota. The area is a vibrant mix of residential, commercial, light industrial, retail, academia, technical research uses, artists, and artisans. With the recent addition of the Green Line transit corridor and three light rail stations, the area is positioned for significant redevelopment and is envisioned as a living laboratory that fosters resilient urban living.
After completing a feasibility analysis in 2015, Ever-Green Energy is proceeding with the development and design of a low-temperature district heating and cooling system, using recovered energy from the local wastewater system as its primary source. When compared to the lowest-cost, stand-alone system options for buildings, this approach would be less expensive and produce up to 40% less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The longer-term energy vision for the area includes the addition of other renewable solutions including solar photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies, thermal storage, and energy efficiency options. The implementation of the energy vision has the potential to significantly increase the GHG emission savings, depending on the extent of integration and system growth. By integrating a renewable thermal grid with community solar, the system could be net-zero early on in development.
Ever-Green Energy’s Role: Ever-Green Energy was selected as the energy planning coordinator on the project and has more recently been advising on business plan development, project financing, and implementation.
Advisory Council and Community Engagement Process: The initial 2020 Partners comprehensive planning process included a broader community engagement process, which resulted in the initial energy recommendations. Over the past year, an advisory process and steering committee have been formed to oversee the layers of development for this area, including Minneapolis and Saint Paul staff (economic development and public works), Ramsey and Hennepin County, the University of Minnesota, the McKnight Foundation, the Urban Land Institute, and local business owners and developers.
- Identify the infrastructure investments that can benefit this district in the long-term and develop these solutions in advance of or in parallel to the upcoming development surge in this area.
- Create an integrated district that benefits from coordinated utility capabilities and infrastructure.
- Design and build an energy infrastructure that serves current needs, can evolve to incorporate greater renewable options, and is both cost-effective and energy efficient.
Stakeholders: Prospect Park 2020, University of Minnesota, Metropolitan Council, City of Minneapolis (Community Planning and Economic Development and Public Works), Hennepin County, The Wall Companies, Greater MSP, Minneapolis Housing Authority, Metro CERTS (clean energy resources teams), Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Cunningham Architects, The Cornerstone Group, local gas and electric utilities, United Properties, Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Technology Considered: hot water district heating, district cooling, wastewater energy capture, geothermal, combined heat and power, thermal storage, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, waste heat recovery, biomass, biogas, snow melt