District Energy St. Paul – 3-part Brochure

District Energy St. Paul is an industry leader in the development, operation, and management of integrated and sustainable energy systems. Currently supplying 80% of heating and 60% cooling services in the downtown Saint Paul area, this non-profit company has become a model for energy efficiency and reliability on a community level, and internationally-recognized for renewable and reduced-impact energy solutions. The greatest marketing challenge for District Energy St. Paul and affiliate company, District Cooling St. Paul, is overcoming public perceptions and understanding of renewable energy and benefits of life cycle energy planning; and in creating brand awareness in a field dominated by well-established regional and national competitors. The company’s small but passionate team needed effective tools to communicate its capabilities and benefits to a broad audience ranging from government policy makers to community members. Starting with a brand overhaul, FourFive created a 3-part, multi-focused brochure that collectively works as one cohesive piece–using the angled design as a tool to both individualize and tether the three messaged pieces together. This helped make District Energy St. Paul’s flagship brochure more affordable and efficiently updatable while reducing waste.

Title: District Energy St. Paul: 3-part brochure
Client: District Energy St. Paul
Design Firm: FourFive
Design Team: Rita Penrod and Craig Johnson
Category: Professional

With the content divided into three separate brochures, different print quantities were specified for each based on focused target audiences. For reruns, only the affected brochure will be reprinted. Angled pages were designed to be cut on a straight-edge industrial cutter, eliminating custom dies and paper waste. Printed with soy ink on FSC certified paper stock containing 50% post-consumer waste fiber. Digital versions of all brochures are available on company website as PDF download.

Communicating renewable energy and efficiency in systems can be a confusing topic that is often hard to digest. Through visualization and design, these pieces better bridge the divide between complex information and the community, customers and policy makers. The best way for people to adopt, promote and request higher energy efficiency and a more sustainable system, is to help them understand the benefits through reduced resource use, cost stability and service reliability.

Multi-use graphics visually assist the client’s small team of experts in educating local and global audiences about integrated technology. By combining design with their for-profit company, Ever-Green Energy’s brochure, production and material resources were combined, saving money and reducing the overall carbon footprint. In addition to elevating brand recognition for District Energy St. Paul, the brochure is used to attract visitors from around the world to study the city of Saint Paul’s successful energy initiatives.

A truly sustainable energy system integrates a variety of local and renewable sources–not just wind and solar–with advanced technology. The result is decreased fossil fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions; increased flexibility, security and resilience; stable rates and lower operating expenses. Whether motivated by environmental or financial interests, the brochure helps readers make informed decisions about why district energy is the sustainable choice for their home, business, community and the environment.

Non-profit company, District Energy St. Paul, their affiliate District Cooling St. Paul have an amazing story to tell, a history of creative energy solutions, and success to back them up. However, few people truly understand what a renewable energy system is or the long-term benefits to the community, the economy and the environment. Most end-users have no idea that the hot water they use or the cooling systems they rely on is provided by a highly efficient, community-based district energy system that operates mainly on local energy resources including solar and biomass from wood residues. Our task was to grab the public’s attention and tell District Energy’s unique story. Most energy and utility companies swim in a sea of sameness–similar color palettes, similar imagery, and similar messaging. District Energy St. Paul needed to look and feel different, because it IS different.

Through a mind-mapping process we determined three key words that describe District Energy St. Paul and could be used as a foundation for the design – partners, leaders, and stewards: partners in the community, industry, business, government, and environmental advocacy groups among others; leaders in business, the community, and energy innovation; and stewards of the environment, community and energy industry.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the design team was to craft the format and content for a diverse audience ranging from the general community to industry partners (architects, engineers and developers); customers (building owners, managers and tenants); local government officials; various state, national and international stakeholders; and environmental groups – each requiring different levels of information. The solution was a 3-piece modular brochure with a corporate summary, service and customer focus, and integrated systems overview. Each piece can be distributed individually, or combined in any combination to tell a larger story.

Every step of the design process was approached with the environmental impact in mind. By creating and producing this project at the same time as Ever-Green Energy’s brochures, we were able to reduce paper costs and the carbon footprint associated with transport by combining orders into a single shipment. Angled pages were designed to be cut on a straight-edge industrial cutter, thus eliminating the need for custom dies and wasted paper. We worked closely with the printer and adjusted designs and brochure sizes to maximize press sheets, and specified FSC certified paper stock containing no less than 50% post-consumer waste fiber. And because the brochure was divided into three pieces, the client was able to order custom quantities for each piece. To reduce the impact further, digital versions of all brochures were made available as PDF downloads on the company website. The client also has the option to make updates on the digital files only without having to reprint any or all of the three brochures.


Posted in 2013 Winners.

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