The city of Duluth and Ever-Green Energy have been presented with the Environmental Initiative's Energy and Climate Award for their efforts to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

In conjunction with the reconstruction of Superior Street, Ever-Green and the city replaced a steam heat system with a closed-loop hot water system, resulting in energy savings of more than 26%. The city also was able to reduce its use of coal fuel by 80% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. Additionally, the new system should allow Duluth to trim its annual use of water by 20 million gallons.

The conversion project was completed using Duluth's Community Benefits Program, with 12% of the work performed by women, people of color and disadvantaged individuals.

A heat exchanger for the new hot-water system at Duluth Energy Systems' steam plant in the Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth. Steam enters the unit and heats water for the hot water system being constructed along Superior Street.  (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
A heat exchanger for the new hot-water system at Duluth Energy Systems' steam plant in the Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth. Steam enters the unit and heats water for the hot water system being constructed along Superior Street. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

"This important public-private partnership and their commitment to decarbonization, stakeholder input and engagement and equity in hiring, exemplifies the vision for our awards program," said Christina Vang-Dixon, an Environmental Initiative project manager, in a news release.

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"This one project has been a big part of putting us on the path to meet the city's climate goals in reducing carbon emissions," said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson in a statement in response to the award.

Duluth Energy Systems is a city-owned energy system that provides heat to more than 160 buildings in Canal Park and downtown Duluth.

"Investing in the energy system that has served the city's business district since 1931 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Converting from steam to hot water, adding natural gas to the fuel mix and updating customer building systems reduced carbon emissions, improved efficiency and has positioned the system to continue to decarbonize to the benefit of the customers and community," said Ever-Green Energy's CEO Ken Smith in a news release.