During fall 2007, Minnesota's Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) held regional listening sessions around the state to discuss community-based energy opportunities and the state's Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The idea was raised of creating a sustainable cities program, free to cities, that would challenge, assist and recognize cities that were "green stars." This idea was taken up by the 2008 Legislature, which directed the MPCA, the Division of Energy Resources at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and CERTs to recommend actions cities could take on a voluntary basis.
Those recommendations are contained in the report Minnesota GreenStep Cities. Representatives from dozens of cities, non-profit organizations, businesses and state government agencies provided the outline for what has been developed as the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, which began in June 2010.
In May 2012 the GreenStep Cities program received awards in the categories of Sustainable Communities and 2012 Partnership of the Year from the Minnesota organization Environmental Initiative. The awards honor partnerships, inspire other organizations to create similar projects, and encourage collaborative approaches to environmental problem solving. Over 340 attendees at the awards dinner voted among the 15 finalists nominated for the 2012 Partnership of the Year.
A variety of resources has been created to help explain the program.
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. In this video, staff from four GreenStep cities talk about the program's benefits.
Of the organizations that created the 2009 report to the Legislature, this group below meets bi-monthly as the GreenStep Cities working committee, contributing time and funding to implement GreenStep Cities program. Each spring the committee organizes a review of the GreenStep program, which includes recommendations from the public, participating cities, state agencies, topic experts, and the League of Minnesota Cities. The committee also works with the League, which recognizes GreenStep cities each June.
|Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Philipp Muessig, GreenStep Cities Coordinator
|Great Plains Institute
Lola Schoenrich, Senior Program Manager, Energy Efficiency
|Clean Energy Resource Teams
Lissa Pawlisch, Statewide Coordinator
|Urban Land Institute Minnesota
Kristina Smitten, GreenStep Cities Project Manager
|League of Minnesota Cities
Don Reeder, Public Relations Manager
|Izaak Walton League - Minnesota Division
Michelle Schroeder, Director at Large
|Minnesota Dept. of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources
|Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
Emily Northey, MN Main Street Coordinator
In addition to staff time contributed by the MPCA and the Division of Energy Resources to work on the GreenStep program, several funders support the staff time of personnel from the five non-profit GreenStep partner organizations. Others wishing to support the program may contact Lola Schoenrich of the Great Plains Institute. The GreenStep program greatly appreciates the support of the following organizations:
Each June the League of Minnesota Cities formally recognizes all new and continuing GreenStep cities at its annual conference. Recognition is based upon a review of city-reported progress toward completing actions.
As cities complete steps one, two and three, they earn stylish awards in the form of "recognition blocks" made from reclaimed urban wood. When a city completes step three, it will have a set which recreates the logo of GreenStep Cities and reflects the commmunity's sustained commitment and continuous improvement.
See photos from the 2014 event:
Businesses and other organizations may become GreenStep Cities Awards Sponsors and receive visibility each June, when GreenStep Cities are recognized at the annual conference of the League of Minnesota Cities. Businesses and other organizations, especially those providing assistance to cities working on implementing best practices, are encouraged to contact the LMC working committee member for more details.
Sponsors of the 2014 GreenStep Cities Awards: