State and Local Policy Database

Saint Paul

City Scorecard Rank


Saint Paul, MN

51.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
3.5 out of 10 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 was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal buildings because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

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

Renewable Energy Goal

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

Last updated: September 2020

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Saint Paul prioritizes replacing vehicles if the replacement are hybrid, electric, or clean diesel. The city’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. 

Onsite renewable systems 

Saint Paul has installed approximately 500 kW of solar on city-owned facilities.

Inclusive procurement

The Mayor’s Office has a directive for all city departments to have 20% of all purchases be made from CERT vendors. The CERT Vendor Program includes certification of Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), and Small Business Enterprise (SBE). The city complying with the CERT requirements as it uses the $5 million Green Energy Revolving Loan Fund to replace all fluorescent and incandescent lamps with LEDs in all city-owned facilities over the next two years.

Last updated: March 2020

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

Saint Paul has 113 sites entered into B3. Of those sites, 95 have complete data.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies

Since 2009, Saint Paul has had a $1 million internal revolving loan fund for several years. In January 2019, the revolving loan was increased to $5 million. The city has completed audits in facilities over 25,000 square feet. High energy use buildings are identified and prioritized through benchmarking and audits.

Public Workforce Commuting

Saint Paul has a telework policy for City employees.

Last updated: July 2020

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 6.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Saint Paul adopted the Climate Action & Resilience Plan in 2019. 

Last updated: March 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Saint Paul's Climate Action and Resilience plan includes a goal to achieve citywide carbon neutrality by 2050, with an interim carbon reduction goal of 50% below 2015 levels by 2030. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

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

The Climate Action and Resilience Plan includes goals for 50% of households to participate in Xcel Energy's Windsource or Renewable*Connect programs, install 50 MW of residential rooftop solar capacity, and install 150 MW of commercial rooftop solar capacity. 

Energy Data Reporting

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

Energy data is also made available on the Regional Indicators online dashboard.

This section applies only to community-wide energy data reporting. For information on data reporting due to building energy benchmarking and disclosure policies, click on the Buildings tab.

Last updated: September 2020

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

While developing the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, the city hosted five community forums to solicit feedback. Four of the five forums were held in areas of concentrated poverty where a majority of residents were people of color. Additionally, each event was co-hosted by a community organization partner. 

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: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

District Energy Saint Paul is the largest district energy system in North America, and the city played a significant role in its creation. The system provides heating and cooling to most buildings in the downtown area and integrates biomass-fired cogeneration, thermal storage, and solar thermal technology. The city also supported the creation of the Energy Park district heating and cooling system, serving several million square feet of office and residential space. 

Saint Paul subscribed to a 3.2 MW community solar system and encourages residents and businesses to subscribe to community solar. 

Last updated: July 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

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.

UHI Policies and Programs

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, and parking lot design standards require green space, in part to reduce heat effects and provide areas for stormwater retention.

Last updated: July 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 13 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: September 2020

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.

Saint Paul is a SolSmart Gold designee. As such, the city has implemented programs and practices to streamline these procedures to encourage solar development and allows solar energy use in all zones. 

Last Update: September 2020

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 provides upfront support for energy code compliance. The city offers suggestions to work through the codes to find the path they feel is best for their project. After that discussion, city staff work with the project’s mechanical engineer on the mechanical portion of the energy code path.

Last Update: September 2020

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

St. Paul adopted the Energy Benchmarking Ordinance to require commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 50,000 square feet to benchmark energy usage. The policy does not require buildings to disclose data. 


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. 

Saint Paul offers commercial and multifamily property owners access to financing for energy efficiency upgrades in new construction and improvements through the Saint Paul Port Authority’s MinnPACE and Trillion BTU programs.

Last Update: September 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The Mayor’s Office has a directive for all city departments to have 20% of all purchases be made from CERT vendors. The CERT Vendor Program includes certification of Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), and Small Business Enterprise (SBE). The city complying with the CERT requirements as it uses the $5 million Green Energy Revolving Loan Fund to replace all fluorescent and incandescent lamps with LEDs in all city-owned facilities over the next two years.

Last Update: September 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 12.5 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 Saint 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 Saint Paul Regional Water Services is the municipal utility that provides the City of Saint Paul with drinking water services. Wastewater treatment is provided by the Metropolitan Council.  Stormwater management is provided by two watershed districts and the City of Saint Paul.

Last Updated: June 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, according to Xcel Energy, they achieved 532,024 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 1.52% of retail sales. In 2018, Xcel spent $98,194,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 2.94% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, Xcel reported 9.13 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 1.52% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2018, Xcel spent $15,506,839 on energy efficiency, which equates to $36.56 per residential customer. These savings figures cover the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Saint Paul.

Xcel offers natural gas and electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

Saint Paul participates 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. Through this program, Xcel Energy provided the City of Saint Paul access to data regarding energy use by customer, neighborhood, business district, census track, and other local configurations. 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: June 2020

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 2018, according to Xcel Energy, it achieved 2,118 MWh and 0.11 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $2,408,364 and $1,463,039 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. Xcel Energy served 3,608 electric and 977 natural gas low-income customers in 2018.

The City of Saint Paul invested $1 million into its Energy Smart Homes no-interest loan program. The program is implemented in partnership with the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), and offers up to $6,500 for attic and wall insulation and air sealing, heating system upgrades, water heaters, and electrical or ventilation related work.

Multifamily Programs

Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy jointly offer 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 2018, according to Xcel Energy, it achieved 2,132 MWh and 0.03 MMtherms of savings, while spending $1688,150 and $298,639 on its electric and natural gas multifamily programs, respectively. Xcel served 227 electric and 65 natural gas customers in 2018.

Last Updated: May 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Xcel Energy does provide 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 Saint Paul does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities.

Last Updated: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, Xcel Energy provided $19,284,836 in incentives for the installation of 7,600 kW of new distributed solar systems, equating to $2,537/kW installed. Xcel Energy provides incentives for the installation of distributed solar under 40 kW through its Solar*Rewards Community program. Production incentives are based on segment (residential, low-income, and commercial) beginning at $0.06 per kWh. In addition, income-qualified projects include an up-front incentive beginning at $1 per watt.

In addition, Xcel Energy also has a community solar program (Solar*Rewards Community) this is not an incentive program but does offer bill credits for customers who work with a third-party developer as part of a community solar garden installation. These bill credits vary by year and time period.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

In December 2019, the City Council passed a resolution opposing the inclusion of a new natural gas plant in Xcel Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), urging Xcel and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to instead find ways to further accelerate utility-scale renewables and storage. The resolution directed staff to comment on Xcel’s IRP filing at the PUC. That filing is currently being revised, and after it is complete, the City will be sending official comments consistent with the Council resolution.

The City’s newly adopted Climate Action and Resilience Plan (December 2019) also calls for increasing distributed single-family residential solar on rooftops from the current 7.1 MW citywide to 50 MW by 2030 and 70 MW by 2050, as well as commercial and multi-family targets of 100 MW by 2030 and 160 MW by 2050. The City has also signed a letter of interest with Xcel to purchase 5 MW of renewable through the next round of Xcel’s Renewable Connect program.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The utilities currently do not offer joint energy and water efficiency measures. However, Xcel Energy does offer several efficiency measures that also save water, including efficient showerheads, faucet aerators, ENERGY STAR clothes washers, and efficient commercial dishwashers.

The city’s draft Climate Action and Resilience Plan identifies specific water conservation goals (water use reduction goal of 2% per person per year) and provides several strategies to achieve those goals. SPRWS has found that the most common cause of unintended increased usage is a running toilet. In 2019, as many as 4,700 water customers experienced a potentially leak-related spike in their bill. SPRWS has established a program for early detection and assistance with identifying/fixing malfunctioning toilets. The program has a dual goal of conserving water and preventing financial strain since water bills can add up quickly when leaks related to malfunctioning toilets are left unresolved.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

Saint Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) has installed LED lighting in its facilities and has resized the high service pump that will save approximately 150,000 to 300,000 kWh per month. SPRWS is in the final configuration steps to automatically upload its energy consumption data into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager into the state of MN’s B3 benchmarking program. This will allow SPRWS to establish goals and measure progress.

Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES), which operates and maintains regional sewers and wastewater treatment, is also dedicated to minimizing its energy use and emissions. MCES has met 50% of Executive Order 19-27, directing state agencies to reduce its energy consumption by 30% between 2006 and 2027. The energy conservation work that MCES has implemented equates to about $3 million per year in savings. Over the next 10 years, the solids improvement projects at Empire and Seneca wastewater treatment plants that will further decrease energy consumption.

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 2020

Score: 15.5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Saint Paul 2040 Comprehensive Plan, approved by City Council in 2019, established a policy to reduce VMT by 40% by 2040. The plan lays out strategies to accomplish this by supporting transit, pedestrian, and bicycle focused infrastructure decisions. The plan establishes a modal hierarchy placing pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit considerations above vehicle considerations.  The Plan should receive final approval from the Met Council in early 2020. (1)

The Saint Paul draft Climate Action and Resilience Plan also calls for reducing VMT by 40%, with a sub-goal of reducing per person VMT 2.5% per year. This plan also provides strategies for achieving these goals. 

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

The Saint Paul 2040 Comprehensive Plan, approved by City Council in 2019, established a policy to reduce VMT by 40% by 2040. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Saint Paul does track progress toward their VMT goal and is currently seeing reductions in annual VMT citywide. 

Last Updated: March 2020

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 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The 2040 Saint Paul Comprehensive Plan, approved by the City Council in 2019, establishes mode share targets as follows: 25% walking, 20% public transit, 8% bicycling by 2040. The draft Climate Action Plan also lists a goal to ensure that 85% of Saint Paul residents have safe access to protected active transportation facilities and to increase miles of bike infrastructure to 300 miles by 2050 and close all sidewalk gaps by 2050, with interim goals for each. 

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

Saint Paul does not currently have dedicated on-street parking for carshare vehicles, although the EV carshare program the city is developing would create 70 parking spots specifically reserved for the electric carshare vehicles.

Bike Sharing

The city is not currently served by a bike share system.

Last Updated: May 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of Saint Paul have received $69,858,778 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $19.25 per capita between 2014 and 2018 within the Authority's service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The city of Saint Paul's Transit Connectivity Index value is 7.7, scoring 1 point in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: May 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Currently, Saint Paul does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. The draft Climate Action and Resilience Plan includes a goal to incentivize the sales of electric vehicles and expand charging infrastructure so that 40% of vehicles on city streets are electric by 2030.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

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

EV Charging Locations

The City has 46 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 15 stations 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 2020

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 2020

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

Both of Saint Paul’s scooter vendors, Lime and Spin, provide subsidized cost tiers for low-income residents that qualify for the programs, and Metro Transit’s TAP program offers reduced fares to income-qualified riders. The City is also working to develop an EV carshare program that is anticipated to have rates for those with lower incomes. 

Last Updated: April 2020