With the goal of making Saint Paul a leader in sustainable urban living, the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) adopted a Sustainable Building Ordinance in 2010 that requires that certain construction projects be built to a high green standard and comply with the Saint Paul Overlay.


The Saint Paul Sustainable Building Ordinance applies to each new construction project that either:

  • receives more than $200,000 in City/HRA/public funding; or
  • is owned by the City or HRA; or
  • is built with the intent of having the City or HRA become the sole tenant.

If one of the above criteria is met, the Ordinance also applies to:

  • parking lots and structures;
  • additions to existing buildings that include a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system; or
  • rehab projects of 10,000 square feet or more and involve replacing or installing a new HVAC system.

Voluntary adoption of the Sustainable Building Ordinance is also encouraged. Adhering to the Ordinance may result in lower operating costs, increased rental rates, higher productivity, higher tenant satisfaction, increased property values and enhanced marketability.

Download the Sustainable Building Ordinance


The Saint Paul Sustainable Building Ordinance requires compliance with:

  1. an approved sustainable building standard; and
  2. the Saint Paul Overlay.

Approved Sustainable Building Standards

The Saint Paul Sustainable Building Ordinance allows developers to choose from one of several approved sustainable building standards, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Minnesota B3, GreenStar and Green Communities. The Ordinance requires that a certain minimum threshold be met within the selected standard. For example, if the developer chooses LEED, the building must receive Silver Certification.

Saint Paul Overlay

The Saint Paul Overlay sets uniform minimum thresholds for several areas of attainment, including energy use, water consumption, diversion of construction waste, indoor environmental quality, stormwater management, greenhouse gas emissions and annual collection of energy data. Together, these minimum thresholds are called the Saint Paul Overlay and are complementary to the sustainable building rating systems named above.

Download the Saint Paul Overlay

Case Studies

Kendall's Ace Hardware

Kendall's Ace Hardware

Kendall’s Ace Hardware is a family-owned business on Saint Paul’s Eastside. In 2012, the business relocated and since the project received over $200,000 in public investment, it was required to comply with the Sustainable Building Ordinance. It did so by following the Minnesota B3 sustainable building standard and the Saint Paul Overlay. Green attributes include efficient heating and cooling systems, proximity to transit and rain gardens to manage stormwater.

The Penfield during construction

The Penfield

The Penfield is a six-story market-rate rental apartment building with first-floor commercial space (including a grocery store) located in downtown Saint Paul. The property is certified LEED Silver and complies with the Saint Paul Overlay. During construction, over 75% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills. The project’s green roof will reduce stormwater runoff and serve as an amenity for residents.

History of the Sustainable Building Ordinance

In 2007, the City of Saint Paul received a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to develop a model green building policy. The City assembled stakeholders to develop a policy that addressed a wide array of environmental issues, including energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, construction waste, stormwater management, and indoor environmental quality. The process resulted in an ordinance that requires a high level of attainment while giving developers flexibility.

The Sustainable Building Ordinance applies to all new construction projects receiving more than $200,000 in public assistance, as well as certain rehab projects. If the Sustainable Building Ordinance does not apply, other energy-saving requirements may be in effect. Based on the financial and environmental benefits that result from the Ordinance, the City encourages developers to voluntarily extend these practices to other projects. City staff and other resources are available to help ensure success.

Last Edited: October 13, 2022