Metro Transit

MN: Metro Transit, Partners Recognize Earth Day At New Energy-Efficient Rail Facility

Metro Transit, Xcel Energy and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Earth Day today by the highlighting energy-conserving features of the rail center that is home to the Metro Green Line that begins operations in less than two months.

The new Operations and Maintenance Facility in Lowertown St. Paul will maintain and store 37 of the light-rail vehicles that will serve the Green Line.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb noted that the energy-saving features of the new facility build on a six-year conservation partnership with Xcel.

“In 2008, Metro Transit and Xcel performed a comprehensive energy audit of our bus garages” he said. “As a result, we invested $8.8 million in energy-saving improvements such as automated heating and cooling systems and high-speed, insulated garage doors. By the end of this year we will have entirely recouped those capital investments through savings in our utility bills. Working with Xcel through its Energy Design Assistance program, we’ve built this new facility using sustainable principles that reduce energy consumption and will save about $167,000 beginning in year one.”

Formerly a vacant Gillette Co. storage building, the $49.4 million green line operations and maintenance facility re-used structural elements such as walls and columns. Other sustainable features include automated heating and cooling controls, exhaust systems with energy-recovery technologies and motion-triggered lighting. Heated and chilled water supplied by St. Paul-based District Energy is the primary energy source for warming and cooling the facility. Hot water circulated through concrete in front of the building also melts ice from rail tracks.

Xcel Energy, Metro Transit and The Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce are partners in the Energy Innovation Corridor (EIC). Established in 2010, EIC combines private, public and non-profit partners focused on developing a first-of-its-kind clean energy and transportation corridor along the Green Line. The EIC encompasses a quarter-mile zone on either side of the 11-mile rail corridor. The Green Line Operations and Maintenance Facility anchors the eastern end of the EIC.

"Xcel Energy is a proud partner in helping Metro Transit contribute to a clean, healthy environment," said Laura McCarten, regional vice president, Xcel Energy. “Thanks to Metro Transit and our partners in the Energy Innovation Corridor, today the 11-mile stretch along the Green Line is a showcase of energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation.”

More than 100 Metro Transit employees, including rail operators, maintenance and support staff, have begun moving into the location as training and testing occurs on the Green Line leading up to the grand opening on June 14.

“Earth Day is a great day to meet the dozens of employees moving into this fantastic new facility,” said Rick Beeson, executive vice president of Sunrise Banks, a member organization of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “On behalf of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce - Welcome to Lowertown! We’re thrilled to have you providing sustainable light-rail transit for the Twin Cities from this vibrant and growing St. Paul neighborhood.” Beeson added that St. Paul-based Sunrise Banks has three branches along the Energy Innovation Corridor, two in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis, which practice and promote sustainable business approaches.