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Decarbonizing Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Image: Sustainable Energy Savings, Inc.


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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 energy use and carbon emissions throughout the year.

The City of Saint Paul is committed to the decarbonization of the Como Park & Zoo campus as part of its larger goal to achieve carbon neutrality in municipal operations. In 2016-2017, Como Park & Zoo staff worked closely with Xcel Energy to conduct energy audits and develop a campus-wide energy efficiency plan that could reduce energy use at the campus by 20%. In 2022, the city also completed a Geothermal Feasibility Study for Como Zoo. 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 from zoo operations.

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) system. During 2024-2025, both the Primates and Polar Bear buildings at Como Zoo will be removed from the central gas boiler and transition to new geothermal energy systems.

Como Zoo Primates Building

The City of Saint Paul will also implement a range of other energy conservation measures - including LED lighting upgrades, building automation system updates, and building envelope improvements - at multiple facilities on the zoo campus.

Summary and contacts



Responsible organizations

Contact persons

  • Main contact person Cecilia Govrik
    Cecilia Govrik
    Energy Coordinator
    City of Saint Paul
Information updated 07/19/2024