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GreenStep City Best Practices Buildings and Lighting

New Green Buildings
no. 3

Construct new buildings to meet or qualify under a green building framework.
  Best Practice Action 4      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 ]       [all actions]

Provide a financial or other incentive to private parties who build new buildings that utilize the SB 2030 energy standard and/or a green building framework.

  • List of green building frameworks, which include codes, standards (including the SB 2030 energy standard), rating systems with certification and guidelines with verification. See also AARP's Livable Communities: Housing page covering "visitable" standards for the disabled and aging, tiny houses, accessary dwelling units, design for extended families, and more. And for new housing projects, the Green Communities Criteria and technical assistance from Minnesota Housing is a great checklist and technical resource for all the many things to consider working into buildings: energy efficiency, renewables, site design, density, landscaping, stormwater, materials, etc.
  • See also resources for action 3.3
  • The City of River Falls, WI is working with Habitat for Humanity on a net-zero community called Eco Village whose goal is to show that sustainable housing can and should be “beautiful and affordable for all.” The 18 homes will all be LEED Platinum and energy neutral. Another net-zero innovation is the St. Paul Port Authority's 2018 net zero warehouse prototype looking for interested cities, businesses, contractors.
  • A city may need to consider incentivizing, or regulating, reduced salt use in water softeners. This salt passes through waste water plants to rivers and lakes, where it has toxic effect on fish and other aquatic organisms, and where it permanently and irreversibly contaminates groundwater. Short of expensive reverse osmosis, there is no feasible way to remove salt from wastewater. Options are central softening of drinking water and encouraging residents to take steps to reduce water softener salt use.
  • Going beyond incentives, cities may require all new residential homes and public parking facilities to accommodate electric vehicles (EV). A 2017 City of Atlanta, GA ordinance requires 20% of the spaces in all new commercial and multifamily parking structures be EV-ready. It also requires that all new development of residential homes be equipped with the infrastructure needed to install EV charging stations, infrastructure such as conduit, wiring and electrical capacity.
  • Municipal Green Building Policies: Strategies for Transforming Building Practices in the Private Sector (Environmental Law Institute: 2008).
Incentives include lower interest loans, lowered building or equipment permit fees; note what green building framework qualifies and if buildings have the capacity to charge electric vehicles. Private parties include builders, developers, homeowners, businesses, institutions. Report ADUs, co-housing, small houses / tiny houses and apartments under action 7.2; report incentives to reduce salt use in home water softeners under under 20.4
Incentives include rebates, tax breaks (e.g., property tax abatement), expedited permit review, green building design assistance, and lower water-connection fees for buildings with water-conserving fixtures.
Incentives require meeting the SB 2030 energy standard, or require buildings to be rated/certified under a green building framework, or require conduit for EV chargers in new home/multi-family garages (making them EV-ready); incentives might include a density bonus.


Date action report first entered:   02/19/2016
Date of last report update:   02/21/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The Richfield Rediscovered Lot Sale Program offers a $5,000 credit on the purchase a vacant lot from the Richfield HRA provided a new home is built that has at least 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a 2-car garage; complements the existing neighborhood; and qualifies for "Green" certification.

Outcome measures/metrics:
As of July 2013, the program has awarded 4 rebates: 3 homes certified by the Minnesota Green Path Program and one is LEED certified.

For more information contact:
Julie Urban (City staff)   |   jurban@richfieldmn.gov   |   6128619777

View All Richfield Actions


Date action report first entered:   06/09/2011

Implementation details:
Sections of the Land Development Manual applying to incentive development and restricted development, which address what in most communities are handled through planned unit developments, provide significant incentives for energy-related transportation, site layout, and construction features. Contact: Phil Wheeler

Descriptive links: http://www.rochestermn.gov/departments/planning_zoning/Chapter%2062/62600INCENTIVE_DEVELOPMENT.asp, http://www.ci.rochester.mn.u

For more information contact:
Jeff Ellerbusch (City staff)   |   ellerbusch.jeff@CO.OLMSTED.MN.US   |   507-328-7132

View All Rochester Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/08/2012

Implementation details:
c) Austin Utilities currently offers up to $25,000 financing for customers to use for green building design assistance. Payments are made via the customer utility bill. d) New addition to Hormel Foods Corp. Corporate Office North facility will be LEED Gold certified thanks in part to expected rebates from Austin Utilities.

For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer)   |   janetanderson2840@gmail.com   |   5072190680

Hormel Foods, City

View All Austin Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/11/2011
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
The City indicates that there are meaningful and significant incentives of grants and recognition to private parties who build to green building standards. In the new ICC700 Green Building standard, there is a wide variety of incentives built into the program to promote green building standards in the private sector. These include the involvement of city officials early in the planning process to help contractors receive additional savings through various resources. The IgCC will allow for contractors to recieve special recognition from the city. There may also be cash rewards through the EDA (Economic Development Assistance) funding program. City employees involved in the permitting process will help in all aspects of the green building framework.

For more information contact:
Jason Brash (City staff)   |   Jason.brash@maplewoodmn.gov   |   651-249-2324

View All Maplewood Actions

New Hope

Date action report first entered:   03/30/2015
Date of last report update:   12/03/2018
Year action initially completed:   2017
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
The city and the Center for Energy and Environment offer a comprehensive array of financing services, including Home Energy Loan Programs, Geothermal Financing, and Solar Financing. In 2017, the city amended the Development Agreement between the EDA and Alatus, LCC to include a loan to cover half of the cost of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VFR) system for the IronWood apartment building under construction at the time at 8400 Bass Lake Road. VRF systems achieve extremely high efficiencies by modulating the flow of the refrigerant according to the exact demands of specific areas throughout a building. By coupling the boiler/chiller VRF system with solar power, the building will be able to achieve close to zero emissions, meaning that it would generate no carbon footprint. This would allow the building to achieve LEED certification, making it a model project for the future of heating and cooling needs of similar buildings in the area. The VRF system uses roughly 50% of the energy that MagicPak systems use, saving an equivalent in emissions of 615,000 gallons of gasoline over a 20-year period.

Descriptive links: http://image.ci.new-hope.mn.us/weblink8/0/doc/62633/Page1.aspx             view file

For more information contact:
Jeff Alger (City staff)   |   jalger@ci.new-hope.mn.us   |   763-531-5119

Center for Energy and Environment

View All New Hope Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/12/2011

Implementation details:
Generation Green is a voluntary initiative program for the creation of Energy Efficient, Carbon Reducing buildings. Any new or majorly renovated building will enjoy expedited plan review and a 15% reduction in building permit fees immediately with the application approval from the Inspection department. Any LEED Certified buildings will receive 20%-25% off building permit fees, depending on the certification.

            view file

For more information contact:
Jen Hassebroek (City staff)   |   jen.hassebroek@ci.oakdale.mn.us   |   651-730-2723

View All Oakdale Actions

Saint Paul

Date action report first entered:   09/24/2014
Date of last report update:   09/24/2014

Implementation details:
Technical assistance from City staff is available for green building. The City also has a Saint Paul Sustainable Building Policy Guidebook available online. The City’s website also contains a list of resources available to private parties.

Descriptive links: www.stpaul.gov/sustainablebuildingpolicy

For more information contact:
Kurt Schultz (City staff)   |   Kurt.Schultz@ci.stpaul.mn.us   |   651-266-6530

View All Saint Paul Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/23/2013

Implementation details:
In September 2012, the City Council adopted a density bonus policy stating that density increases consistent with the density bonus provisions of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan may be allowed at the sole discretion of the City Council. The City Council may grant a density bonus only through the planned unit development process if the proposed project incorporates at least one of the four policy objectives of: 1. Affordable housing and/or assisted living units 2. Greenway dedication 3. Sustainable design 4. Redevelopment of exception parcels. As stated in the policy - Section 3: Sustainable Design To implement the City’s sustainability goals, at the sole discretion of the City Council a density bonus of 0.5 units per acre may be awarded to developments in which a minimum of 80% of the residential units meet or exceed the requirements of LEED or other similar City-approved ratings program. Additionally, the City Council reserves the right to grant said sustainable design density bonus to a development that offers additional sustainable design elements not defined herein. A density bonus shall only be granted to a low density development through an approved planned unit development phasing plan. The phasing plan shall ensure sustainable design requirements are met before final platting of any bonus units.

For more information contact:
Jennifer McLoughlin (City staff)   |   jmcloughlin@ci.woodbury.mn.us   |   651-714-3522

View All Woodbury Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Laura Millberg, MBA, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience Principal Planner, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2568, laura.millberg@state.mn.us, http://www.pca.state.mn.us/yhiz6ef