State and Local Policy Database

Saint Paul

City Scorecard Rank


Saint Paul, MN

35.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
3 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Saint Paul has not adopted a municipal climate or sustainability action plan. The city drafted the sector-specific report Path to Carbon Neutrality: Buildings.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Path to Carbon Neutrality report includes a goal to achieve carbon neutrality in municipal buildings by 2030. ACEEE does not project the city will meet its GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal buildings. 

Energy Reduction Goal

Saint Paul aims to use renewable energy to power 50% of city operations within five years. 

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal renewable energy goal.

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

We were unable to find information on the adoption of a fleet procurement policy or fuel efficiency requirements in Saint Paul. Saint Paul’s fleet is composed of 1% efficient vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric vehicles.  

Public Lighting

Saint Paul has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. However, all streetlights in Saint Paul are controlled by optical sensors that extinguish when sufficient light is available. Through Saint Paul’s outdoor lighting replacement and upgrade program, 25.5% of lights have been converted to LEDs. 

Green Building Requirements

Saint Paul Ordinance Ch. 81 Sustainable Building for municipal buildings and private development receiving more than $200,000 in public investment requires all new construction and major renovations to comply with either LEED Silver, MN B3, Enterprise Green Communities, or Green Star.

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting 

Saint Paul has 113 sites entered into B3. Of those sites, 95 have complete data. Saint Paul has had a $1 million internal revolving loan fund for several years.  Partial lighting projects have been completed in approximately 50 facilities.  In January 2019 the revolving loan fund will increase to $5 million.  High energy use buildings will be identified and prioritized through B3 and ESPM and energy efficiency work will begin.

Public Workforce Commuting

Saint Paul has a telework policy for City employees.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 3.5 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of St. Paul does not have a comprehensive climate action or sustainability plan. However, the city has published a pathway towards carbon neutrality in the buildings sector.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city has a goal to achieve carbon neutrality in the buildings sector by 2050.

The city has conducted one greenhouse gas inventory for 2015.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

Energy Data Reporting

Xcel Energy’s Community Energy Reports includes energy data for buildings.

Energy data is also made available on an online dashboard.

Last updated: June 2019

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

Saint Paul’s Path to Carbon Neutrality: Building Sector report established a goal to reduce energy burdens in ten years so that no household spends more than 4% of its income on energy costs. Appendix 5 of the report included near-term priorities and year-one milestones towards the goal.

Last updated: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

St. Paul has the largest district energy system in North America. The system provides heating and cooling to most buildings in the downtown area.

The city adopted a solar zoning ordinance.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan set a goal to increase urban tree canopy coverage to 40% outside of the downtown area and to 15% within the downtown area.

St. Paul does not have any urban heat island mitigation policies or programs, but the city has released the Strategic Framework for Community Resilience, which states the intention to address stormwater management through green infrastructure.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 8 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of St. Paul enforces the state’s building and energy codes. The city previously ran a voluntary benchmarking program, but currently does not have an active benchmarking policy. The city offers several incentives, notably for energy efficiency projects.

Last Update: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Minnesota currently requires local jurisdictions to comply with the 2015 Minnesota Energy Code. The state based the 2015 Minnesota Energy Code on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for both residential and commercial codes. St. Paul does not have the authority to set its own building energy code, but actively advocates to the state for more stringent codes. Additionally, the state allows St. Paul to set stricter building standards if the development is receiving public funding. To learn more about the Minnesota building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must comply with the 2015 Minnesota Energy Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 57.3. St. Paul actively advocates to the state to adopt more stringent energy codes.


Residential properties must comply with the 2015 Minnesota Energy Code The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 51.9. St. Paul actively advocates to the state to adopt more stringent energy codes.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready.

Last Update: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

St. Paul does not staff any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The state’s building and energy codes require plan reviews and performance testing on projects exceeding $500. The city does not provide upfront support for energy code compliance.

Last Update: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

St. Paul does not have a benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties. The Energize St. Paul initiative included a voluntary benchmarking program for commercial buildings during the summer of 2018.


The city has not adopted a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last Update: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

St. Paul offers three incentives for energy efficiency and low-income energy improvement projects.

The city offers commercial property owners access to property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations through the St. Paul Port Authority. 

Additionally, developments receiving more than $200,000 must meet the Minnesota SB 2030 energy standard. 

The city also administers the Energy Smart Home program to offer residents zero-interest loans for energy efficient upgrades. The program is available for all residents, but allows income-eligible participants to borrow 100% of project costs without a match. 

Please note that each incentive/program is tallied based on the building types and energy resources eligible for award. For example, a PACE financing program that offers energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to both residential and commercial property owners is counted as four incentives.

Last Update: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

St. Paul has not adopted a policy requiring building owners to conduct any additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last Update: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

We could not verify if the city has programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last Update: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 8.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Xcel Energy, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric and natural gas utility for the City of St. Paul. The State of Minnesota requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS. Utilities are also required to file IRPs to the Public Utilities Commission identifying how known resources will meet consumer need in future years. This includes energy efficiency as a significant resource. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Minnesota page of the State Database.

The St. Paul Regional Water Services is the municipal utility that provides the City of St. Paul with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, Xcel Energy reported 537,642 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.81% of its retail sales. In 2017, Xcel reported 7.99 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 1.53% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. These savings figures cover the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not just St. Paul. Xcel offers natural gas and electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

Over the past year and a half, St. Paul has participated in Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy program where the city and utility partner to set energy efficiency targets and determine renewable energy strategies to work toward carbon neutrality by 2050 in the building sector. Developers complying with the Saint Paul Sustainable Building Ordinance must participate in the Xcel’s Energy Design Assistance program. Those projects are then eligible to receive incentives from Xcel Energy.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Xcel Energy offers a portfolio of programs for low-income customers, including the Home Energy Savings Program (HESP), Low Income Home Energy Savings Program (LIHES), and Multi-Family Energy Savings Program (MESP). HESP offers free home energy education and improvement services to income-qualifying customers. HESP starts with a home assessment and installation of LED lighting. Additional measures offered are refrigerator, freezer, room air conditioner replacement and recycling. For natural gas customers the program offers replacement of furnace, boiler or water heater. HESP will also provide weatherization services for homes heated with natural gas or electricity from Xcel Energy, and the program coordinates with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). 

LIHES Program offers installation services to electric and gas customers who seek to improve their homes’ comfort and lower their utility bills. During a home visit, the program identifies energy savings opportunities, educates customers about energy-saving measures, and then installs the customers’ measures of choice, such as light bulbs, water efficiency measures, and door and attic hatch weatherstripping.

MESP offers free education and electric saving measures to income-qualifying multi-family buildings. Services are provided in the resident’s units and include installation of LED bulbs, replacement and recycling of refrigerators, freezers, and room air conditioners. Outside of the low-income portfolio, the Multi-Family Building Efficiency Program will provide double incentive for income-qualified buildings.

In 2017, according to Xcel Energy, it achieved 1,976 MWh and 0.32 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 3,221 electric and 2,724 natural gas low-income customers

Multifamily Programs

Xcel Energy offers the Multi-Family Building Efficiency (MFBE) program and the Multi-Family Energy Savings Program. The MFBE provides a free whole-building energy audit, whole-building energy usage, free installation of screw-in LEDs, energy saving faucet aerators and showerheads, water heater blanket and LED signs in the resident’s units and common areas of the buildings. If the building has sufficient cost-effective savings opportunities to reach a minimum of 15% energy savings, they can achieve an incentive of at least 25% of the project cost—the incentive increase with higher savings achievement potential. If the building qualifies as low income, the incentives are doubled. Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy also provides a dedicated low-income multifamily program, Multi-Family Energy Savings Program. This program provides a 25% rebate bonus on top of its standard rebates for income-qualified customers.

In 2017, according to Xcel Energy, it achieved 2,005 MWh and 0.07 MMtherms of savings from its multifamily programs while serving 130 electric and 41 natural gas customers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Xcel Energy does provide the free automatic upload of monthly energy bill data to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager accounts, including aggregated whole building data for buildings with four or more tenants. The City of St. Paul participated in Partners in Energy to provide access to data regarding energy use by customer, neighborhood, business district, census track, or other local configurations. It also aimed to process data and expert support to undertake an inventory, develop the Climate Action Plan, implement the plan, and track success.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, Xcel Energy did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

Over the past year and a half, St. Paul has participated in Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy program where the city and utility partner to set energy efficiency targets and determine renewable energy strategies to work toward carbon neutrality by 2050 in the building sector. 

Last Updated: April 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

We could not determine if the energy and water utilities offer joint energy and water efficiency programs. At this point, the City of St. Paul has not established a water savings target or goal, although water use has been steadily declining for the past 25 years.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The water utility has not set specific energy efficiency targets or strategies, but it has partnered with Xcel Energy in the past to improve efficiency in its facilities. The Met Council operates two wastewater treatment facilities, the Metro plant and the Blue Lake plant, both of which self-generate energy. The Metro plant burns solids in incinerators to create energy for use by the plant.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 12 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The city has a comprehensive transportation plan that covers sustainable transportation,

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

Saint Paul does not have a VMT/GHG target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Saint Paul does not track progress towards a VMT/GHG target.

Last Updated: March 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

Saint Paul’s zoning code, encourages TOD, compact or mixed-use development and street connectivity in their traditional neighborhood zoning.

Residential Parking Policies

Parking maximums exist citywide and are more stringent along the Green Line light rail. There are no parking minimums in Downtown Saint Paul or in the Green Line Station area zones.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

New development along the Green Line automatically gets a density bonus given that there are no parking minimums. A minimum floor-to-area ratio (FAR) of 0.5 is required in light rail station areas.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Saint Paul aims to increase bicycle mode share from 2% in 2000 to 5% in 2015 and increase the mode share of bicycling commuters from 0.6% to 2.5%.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Saint Paul does not track progress towards their mode shift target.

Complete Streets

Saint Paul’s complete streets policy scored an 32.4 out of 100 according to the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Car Sharing

We could not confirm if Saint Paul has a parking policy in place for car sharing vehicles.

Bike Sharing

The city has 0 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

Saint Paul spends an average of $8.79 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 8.0 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Saint Paul does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Xcel Energy offers incentives through a pilot program to add a Level 2 charger in residences.

EV Charging Locations

Saint Paul has 13.05 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

We could not confirm if Saint Paul has any incentives for renewable EV charging infrastructure installation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Saint Paul’s comprehensive plan outlines a number of goals to improve the overall efficiency of the freight system. These include:

1. Prioritize investments in infrastructure that improve river commerce and conditions necessary to maintain and grow regional logistics and commodities hubs connecting, river, rail, truck modes.

2. Explore freight delivery solutions that resolve loading/unloading conflicts in congested areas so as to support businesses and provide safety to pedestrians and road users.

3. Work with agency partners and the Saint Paul Port Authority to implement and support freight transportation improvements in and near industrial areas of regional economic importance.

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Saint Paul’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program awards site selection priority points to affordable housing proposed along high-frequency transit routes (i.e., Green Line Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, or higher-frequency bus lines).

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Saint Paul has partnered with Lime bikes and scooters to offer discounted pricing to individuals that qualify.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

47.1% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in Saint Paul.     

Last Updated: April 2019