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GreenStep City Best Practices Resilient Economic & Community Development

Business Synergies and EcoDistricts
no. 28

Network/cluster businesses and design neighborhoods to achieve better energy, social, economic and environmental outcomes.
A biomass combined heat and power system in the Silver Bay, MN Eco-Industrial Park is estimated to increase fuel efficiency in utility-sized coal-fired electric power plants from about 37% to about 75%. In using wood, net CO2 emissions are zero, displacing approximately 150,000 tons per year of CO2. A 2500-kilowatt pellet plant power and district heating system, firing about 10 tons per hour of biomass, is estimated to create 15 permanent pellet plant jobs and 6 logging jobs. Estimated savings from the district heating is $200,000 when compared to using natural gas.

Set within the Eco-Industrial Park is a Biofuel and Food Greenhouse Facility - Victus Farms -- that produces organic food and renewable fuel. The main inputs are fish feed, electricity, heat, and water, which are derived from locally-produced algae and biomass, and readily-available wind and rain. The main outputs are fish (about 12,000 pounds of tilapia per year), organic produce (starting with lettuce, basil, cilantro, parsley, sprouts, and mushrooms), and algae (oil extracted for biodiesel and remains fed back to fish). Learn more in this PowerPoint.

Optional for category A, B and C cities
Category C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.

Category A and B cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least action 2, 3 or 4.
Fostering communication and networking among businesses, and clustering businesses, can optimize resource use and reduce economic and environmental business costs. Beginning with the observation that in nature, every waste is used by some other organism within an ecosystem, restorative development, eco-industrial development and ecodistricts aim to integrate and optimize energy, waste, water, food and transport systems such that they interface more benignly with the local natural ecosystem. A national EcoDistricts Protocol encompasses mixed-use equitable, resilient, climate-neutral, sustainable neighborhoods. Eco-industrial principles encompass a range of approaches a city can promote, ideally working with a local business association, and include:
  • Waste and pollution prevention and materials reuse in business operations.
  • Byproduct and waste energy exchanges among co-located businesses.
  • Higher performance buildings served by more sustainable infrastructure.
  • Producing products with a smaller environmental impact over their lifecycle.
  • Ongoing community job training efforts to assure green businesses of talented workers.
greenstep advisor
Angie Bourdaghs, Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2176, angela.bourdaghs@state.mn.us, http://www.pca.state.mn.us/sbeap
connection to state Policy

While not State of MN policy, of note is a major University of Minnesota research network launched in 2015 to develop integrated urban infrastructure solutions for environmentally sustainable, healthy and livable cities. The Network's mission is to advance environmental sustainability, health, and livability in diverse cities across the world through infrastructure innovations in energy, water, transportation, green infrastructure, and food systems, linked with social, behavioral, and policy change.