For over 100 years, the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory has played a vital role in meeting the recreational needs of Saint Paul residents and visitors. The variety of building types on the Como campus—including the 65,000-square-foot Visitor Center, a wide range of animal exhibits, and the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, which contains two acres of plant life under glass—require dependable heating, cooling, and water delivery for year-round operations. These heating and cooling operations lead to substantial carbon emissions throughout the year.
The City of Saint Paul is committed to decarbonizing the Como Park & Zoo campus as part of its larger goal to achieve carbon neutrality in municipal operations. Decarbonization refers to the process of reducing or eliminating the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, from various sources such as energy production. The goal of decarbonization is to mitigate climate change and its impacts by transitioning to low-carbon or carbon-neutral alternatives.
In 2016-2017, Como Park & Zoo staff worked closely with Xcel Energy to conduct energy audits and develop a campus-wide energy efficiency plan. In 2022, the city also completed a Geothermal Feasibility Study for a selection of buildings at the Como campus. Both of these efforts identified opportunities for upgrading heating and cooling systems to address operational challenges, decrease maintenance costs, improve energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The City of Saint Paul received $2.2 million in FY2023 Federal funding to support the replacement of Como Zoo’s natural gas steam boiler heating in the Primates Building with a more efficient Hydro Geothermal Heat Pump (HGHP). Planning and implementation for this retrofit project will take place during 2023-2024.