What to do

Whether you have 10 minutes or hours to spare, each destination offers something different. You can learn about a new technology, take pictures, and discover a great story of sustainability, right in the heart of the city.

If you don’t have much time, you can still take a quick look around the EcoDistrict to learn about what makes the area special. Please check our map to see what else is nearby. If you are on Shepard Road, North Chestnut Street, or Eagle Street, you can see solar installations by looking up along the bluff. If you are visiting a Kellogg destination, look for the thermal tank or the combined heat and power plant at District Energy St. Paul or the solar thermal panels atop the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

 

The district occupies two city blocks and is easily experienced from the street level. Perhaps you’re visiting for a conference, on your lunch break, heading to see a play at the Ordway, staying at the Crowne Plaza or Holiday Inn, or experiencing the newest exhibit at the Science Museum. Now you can walk over to learn about solar, composting, and other sustainability projects. Walking between the destinations takes only a few minutes. Signs will point you to the technologies you can see from the sidewalk, including solar, thermal storage, and combined heat and power.

 

Biking in Saint Paul has increased dramatically in the last two years, and Nice Ride ridership has increased 40% in one year, thanks to better routes and more options for bike parking. Visitors to the EcoDistrict can use the bike parking at Kellogg Boulevard and Market Street or at the Science Museum of Minnesota. As soon as the snow starts to clear throughout the city, you will see the Nice Ride bikes back on the racks for the season (April through November). Nice Ride bicycles are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the warm weather months. There are multiple Nice Ride stations near the EcoDistrict. If you use the stations near Sheppard Road (Upper Landing), you can park and see the solar installations along the Saint Paul RiverCentre parking ramp, the ground standing installation at Chestnut Street, and the Science Museum installation in their backyard. From there, you can take the stairs or elevator up to the Kellogg stretch of the walking tour. Or you can use the stations at the Science Museum or Landmark Plaza. You can also take your bike along with you to make a quick exit to one of the local restaurants for a bite to eat. Start here to find bike share or bike lockers to start your tour.  The City of Saint Paul has provided this handy map of all bike parking locations.

Look up from the plaza of the Science Museum and see District Energy St. Paul’s 23,000 square foot installation atop the Saint Paul RiverCentre. It is the largest solar hot water installation in North America. It uses a water loop to capture heat from the sun and use it in the building and share it with the city through the District Energy St. Paul system of hot water pipes. Two smaller hot water panels can be seen next to the District Energy plant.

Along the bluff on the south side of West Kellogg Boulevard there are five solar installations that capture light from the sun to generate electricity. There is also a small solar installation on the Saint Paul RiverCentre Parking Ramp that is used to power cars through an electric vehicle charging station. Learn more about solar.

District Energy St. Paul is easy to spot in the EcoDistrict. It is the facility that some call the cloud factory because of the steam or vapor seen creating a plume along West Kellogg Boulevard. There is a lot happening on this very small site, including the generation of heat and power for the city. This plant is particularly special because it uses primarily waste wood to fuel the operations. When trees are trimmed or Christmas trees discarded, they get a new purpose in this plant to provide energy to businesses and homes in Saint Paul. The plant uses a network of underground pipes to provide heating and cooling to most of downtown Saint Paul and sells the electricity produced to Xcel Energy, so maybe the electricity from here might end up at your house! The plant is more efficient than average because it also captures the heat from electricity production to heat Saint Paul. To learn more, visit our technology pages on district energy or combined heat and power. Or visit the educational signs along the plazas between the Science Museum and District Energy St. Paul explaining how things work and the history of the plant.

 

The Saint Paul RiverCentre (Roy Wilkins Auditorium and Xcel Energy Center), located at 175 West Kellogg Boulevard, features a nation-leading convention center, hockey arena and entertainment venue. With thousands of people coming through every year, it’s amazing that the facility has earned awards for reducing waste, recycling, energy conservation, and leadership in sustainability. This “exceptionally green” center for entertainment has developed their own sustainability website.

The Science Museum of Minnesota, located at 120 West Kellogg Boulevard, has made similar strides to reduce their environmental footprint by reducing waste and saving energy. Also, the Science Museum uses its facilities to teach visitors about our Future Earth and provide educators with a place to develop classroom materials (Science House). The Science Museum is also home to the National Park Service Visitor Center. Learn more about how the Science Museum promotes sustainability.