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Ameresco: Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport

Great impact and results for very collaborative initiatives. An excellent project that had financials aligned with energy efficiency. The creative funding options were fully utilized, and adverse weather conditions did not prevent the project from being completed on time.

Ameresco is an independent provider of comprehensive services, energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades, asset sustainability, and renewable energy solutions for businesses and organizations in North America and Europe. The company led an energy savings and sustainability project at Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission hired Minneapolis-based GreenMark in March 2012 to explore the possibility of developing a major solar energy generation facility at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. GreenMark helped identify potential solar solutions and developers. Through a competitive request for quotation, approximately 30 companies were shortlisted. Ameresco won the competitive request for proposals and was contracted to lead the airport solar project in partnership with a number of Minnesota-based entities.

Ameresco installed solar panels on two parking ramps at Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport Terminal 1-Lindbergh. The 3-megawatt solar, custom steel superstructure supports more than 8,700 solar panels. Lights were changed out. Among four Terminal 1 parking ramps, 7,743 metal halide light fixtures were converted to energy-saving LED technology. Ameresco replaced stairwell lighting, retrofitted light fixtures, and installed new rental car area, and top level lights. Four electric vehicle charging stations were installed at two ramps, bringing the total number of charging stations at the airport to 12. Ameresco is providing a 20-year guarantee as well as operations and maintenance services.

During the design phase, engineers had to consider significant snowfall, frigid temperatures, and Federal Aviation Administration regulations on airport glint and glare. The project was completed on a 15-month construction schedule, and completed on time despite harsh weather conditions. During construction of the energy savings and sustainability project, more than 253 jobs were created. Local union labor, local installation, and local product companies were utilized. The project is the largest integrated solar and lighting project at an airport in the world, according to Ameresco.

Ameresco worked with nine governmental entities to coordinate project driven reallocation of qualified energy conservation bonds. Through the bonds, grants, and partnerships, Ameresco assisted Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport in identifying financing to offset costs of the project. The positive annual cash flow to the airport is more than $170,000, and the 30-year net present value is more than $10 million.

Through Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport’s partnership with Ameresco, the airport saves the equivalent of 6,813 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The green benefit from this carbon reduction is about equal to the emissions generated by 1,434 vehicles each year.