State of Minnesota: Bemidji Energy Savings Performance Contract


The small City of Bemidji, located in the northwest corner of the State of Minnesota, utilized a citywide Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) to upgrade eight of the city’s buildings in addition to the wastewater treatment plant and streetlights. The project, which focused on improving lighting, energy management controls and mechanical systems, resulted in an energy savings of 14 percent and a cost savings of $119,000 annually.


The City of Bemidji has a population of 14,000 residents spread across 14 square miles. Despite its small size, the city was able to successfully implement an ESPC with the help of the state’s ESPC technical assistance program, the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP). See MN’s Implementation Model about GESP on the Better Buildings Solution Center.  The project involved eight city-owned buildings totaling more than 370,000 square feet of conditioned space across the chamber of commerce, city hall, history center, library, two retail stores, public works and Sanford Center.  In addition, the project retrofitted over 860 streetlights and incorporated the wastewater treatment facility, a major energy consumer in municipalities.



The city conducted an audit to identify potential energy savings opportunities across multiple buildings.  The project design allowed for a combination of rapid-payback measures to support long-payback measures, enabling a comprehensive project across multiple facilities.  Once the city solidified the ideal combination of buildings for the project, construction began in October 2014 and lasted 14 months.


Energy conservation measures at the eight buildings included:

  • Interior building lighting improvements
  • Building envelope sealing; window and door caulking
  • Energy system control improvements
  • Mechanical (HVAC) system improvements and replacements
  • Exterior lighting improvements
  • Lighting controls
  • Vending machine controls

The city also began upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant with lighting retrofits in the buildings.  Rounding out the project, Bemidji converted more than 860 streetlights around the city to LED.




In addition to the expected energy and cost savings from the upgrades, the city also anticipates an annual deferred operations and maintenance cost savings of $21,000 due to the improved efficiency and lifespan of the installed equipment, controls and fixtures.  Furthermore, because the subcontractor bids came in lower than originally estimated, the City of Bemidji was able to recoup the excess dollar amount over the original bid to fund additional infrastructure improvements.


Annual Energy Use

(Source EUI)
Baseline (2014)
85,180 MMBtu
Actual (2017)
71,082 MMBtu

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Baseline (2014)
Actual (2017)

Cost Savings:


Sector Type

State Government


Bemidji, Minnesota

Project Size

373,900 Square Feet

Financial Overview

Project Cost $2.45 Million

City of Bemidji Sanford Center
City of Bemidji Sanford Center

City of Bemidji Streetlight Retrofit
City of Bemidji Streetlight Retrofit