Edina elects to go green in city buildings

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2011 - 2:39 PM

The city is looking to achieve immediate savings by concentrating on energy-saving updates.


Replacing the lighting in Edina's cavernous Braemar Arena will be a major undertaking.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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Green is the theme in Edina, where the green city seal and green school colors now jibe with an aggressive city effort to save energy in municipal operations.

After approving a solar installation on the City Hall roof in August, the City Council recently OK'd a project to tweak lighting, insulation and building seals in city-owned buildings to save energy.

The contract, with a facilities management firm called McKinstry, is expected to yield dividends right from the start, said city utility engineer Jesse Struve. Building improvements, which will cost about $416,000, will be paid for with bonding that will be repaid over 10 years through energy savings that should be big enough to not only pay for the bonds but to yield cash flow as well, he said.

McKinstry is guaranteeing that the project will save the city at least $54,000 a year in energy costs.

"Right from year one we get positive cash flow," Struve said. "It's a lot of water conservation, working on building envelopes and interior lighting ... tightening up buildings, making them less drafty."

Twelve city buildings will be included in the project, from City Hall and the new Public Works building to the city's three liquor stores, the ice arena, the arts center and buildings on city golf courses.

While the work is expected to be relatively minor in newer buildings like Public Works, replacing the lighting in a big old building like Braemar Arena is a major undertaking.

"In Braemar, the rate of return is substantial because of all the lights," Struve said. That building project, he said, will recoup its cost within five years.

Much of the project focuses on the subtleties of energy savings. Doors and windows won't be replaced -- they'll be caulked and weather-stripped. Sweeps will be added to some doors. Foam sealing will be added to wall cavities, especially in areas where buildings often are not well insulated -- like where walls meet ceilings.

Incandescent light fixtures will be replaced with fluorescent lighting, exit lights may be converted to LED, and sensors that turn lights off and on depending on whether a room is occupied could be added at some locations.

To reduce water use, faucets, showers, toilets and urinals will be updated or replaced.

The project is expected to start later this year and will be finished sometime in 2012. Struve said disruption in individual buildings should be minimal.

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380

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