Green Digest: Greening the IDS

Plus, celebrate bees at the 2015 Pollinator Party

The IDS Center's Crystal Court. Credit: File photo

The owner of IDS Center is working with Center for Energy and Environment to improve the energy efficiency of the state’s tallest building.

The Minneapolis landmark will go through CEE’s Existing Building Commissioning program for a thorough review of all building systems, including heating and cooling, water and ventilation. The goal is to cut IDS Center’s energy costs by 10 percent or more, Mark Hancock, CEE director of engineering services, said.

The 57-story office tower is already efficient enough to have earned federal Energy Star status in 2010. Its Energy Star rating in 2014 was 83, meaning it performed better than about 83 percent of similar commercial buildings nationwide.

Still, Hancock said an initial walk-through of the IDS indicated to him there was more room for improvement.

“We’re talking about a building that was built in the early ’70s,” he said. “It was originally designed under an energy code that doesn’t exist anymore. And (the question is) can we get that building to operate efficiently and meet the current energy codes and the current ventilation codes without replacing equipment?”

That, of course, is the other option: simply replace old systems with newer, more energy efficient equipment. That can be a faster way to cut energy bills, too, Hancock added.

But Hancock endorses a different approach, known as recommissioning. His team will observe IDS Center in different climate conditions throughout the year, searching for tweaks to optimize the building’s performance.

“In recommissioning, it takes a lot longer to investigate the building, but the end results of that investigation is low-cost, no-cost measures that yield just as much, if not more, savings,” he said.

According to CEE, average payback on an Existing Building Commissioning project is just more than three years.

Accesso Partners, L.L.C., has owned the IDS Center since 2013. The company is headquartered in Hallandale Beach, Fla., but maintains an office in Minneapolis.

Deb Kolar, general manager of operations for IDS, said Accesso connected with CEE through NRG Energy Center Minneapolis, the downtown utility that provides steam for heating and chilled water to the IDS.

Kolar wouldn’t disclose how much Accesso is paying for the recommissioning, but she said the contract — which runs through April — worked out to about 12 cents per square foot. That cost is being borne by Accesso and not the building tenants, she added.

Kolar’s tenure at IDS has spanned several different building owners, and she said many of them invested in capital improvements that made the building more energy efficient. But in a tower the size of IDS, “there’s always room to grow and room to be better,” she said.

Hancock said this is the largest project ever to go through CEE’s Existing Building Commissioning program. Their contract covers the tower, IDS’s Crystal Court and the retail spaces — almost the entire city block, except for the Marquette Hotel — totaling close to 1.4 million square feet of floor space.


Celebrating precious pollinators

Lyndale Park Gardens hosts a party to celebrate bees and their vital role in agriculture July 30.

The 2015 Pollinator Party is an opportunity to learn about bees, honey and the integral part both domesticated honeybees and wild bees play in the life cycle of the plants that feed us. There will be food provided by La Loma Tamales, music from the Brass Messengers, games and other activities, including a chance to catch, identify and release wild bees in the park.

Guests include 2015 American Honey Princess Hayden Wolf and “Pollinators of Native Plants” author Heather Holm.

The event takes place 5 p.m.–8 p.m. near the park’s Perennial Garden and the Phelps Fountain. For more information, go to