Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 6.5

GreenStep City Best Practices: Land Use
Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans No. 6

Build public support and legal validity to long-term infrastructural and regulatory strategy.

Best Practice Action 5

Adopt climate mitigation and/or energy independence goals and objectives in the comprehensive plan or in a separate policy document, and include transportation recommendations such as becoming an EV-ready city.

The Yale Climate Opinion Maps and Factsheets can help provide a sense of what your community thinks about climate change, energy, and more. 

Targets & Goals: 

Climate & Energy Plans: 

  • Find the Gold Leaf climate action program’s 44 high-priority/high-impact local climate actions for additional resources and recognition opportunities. 
  • Consider Prioritizing Municipal Climate Change Actions (Michael Orange - RETAP, 2023)
  • Learn more about climate and sustainability planning from the American Planning Association Sustainable Communities Division with on-demand videos
  • Energy generation and use affect a community’s character, economic vitality, and environmental footprint. Planning for local energy resources, infrastructure, and energy-related development is essential to achieving community goals for growth, change, development, and global climate change. See climate and energy planning resources from the Regional Indicators Initiative that include an energy planning guide and workbook, a MN list of local government energy goals, sample RFP language to use in selecting a planning consultant, and a solar energy availability calculator. 
  • Check out the Michigan Green Communities Sustainability Plan Template Resoureces, developed by our partners at the Great Plains Institute. The template resources can be used for climate and energy plans as well. 
  • The Greenhouse Gas Strategy Planning Tool from the Metropolitan Council allows users to explore greenhouse gas reduction strategies and estimate potential impact for a chosen city or township in the Twin Cities region. 
  • Find planning resources from the Metropolitan Council for climate action: reducing emissions, adapting to change, preparing for increased flooding and extreme heat, tracking GHG emissions, providing resources to expand solar energy use, enhancing and preserving tree canopies, improving energy efficiency in wastewater treatment operations, and reducing transportation emissions. 
  • The Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool (ACEEE, 2021) quickly allows a city to score their energy efficiency (and cost-saving, GHG-cutting) efforts by evaluating locally-enacted programs and policies across local government operations, community-wide initiatives, building policies, energy and water utility policies, and transportation policies. The tool introduces communities to innovative energy practices that have been implemented and proven successful in small communities, and provides actionable guidance on which metrics to target to improve energy efficiency performance.
  • See the State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform, designed to help visualize your jurisdiction’s clean energy potential and reach your energy goals (NREL 2021). 
  • Responsible outdoor lighting practices can save 35% of the energy used for lighting in this country, equivalent to planting 600 million trees a year. Use the International Dark-Sky Association Light Pollution Wastes Energy and Money guide to promote reduced/smarter outdoor lighting. See the GreenStep Dark Skies best practices for more. 
  • A 2020 interactive tool that shows which cities in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council’s jurisdiction that have incorporated various climate, energy, or sustainability elements or participate in various climate, energy, or sustainability programs.
  • Find example local government climate action plans that address materials management and waste (EPA, 2023).
  • Note that in the 7-country metropolitan area, cities are required by the Legislature each 10 years to develop and submit to the Metropolitan Council a land use plan that contains an energy infrastructure element for protection and development of access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems.
  • Consider low-income energy affordability with the US Dept. of Energy LEAD Tool
  • Include in your plan or adopt an Indigenous Land Acknowledgement - See BPA 6.1.  
  • The City of St. Paul’s Climate Justice Advisory Board (CJAB). Is supporting the development of policies and programs informed by St. Paul’s Climate Action & Resilience Plan (December 2019), and ensuring that those efforts are equitably distributed to address the challenges faced by the most vulnerable populations and neighborhoods in Saint Paul. The CJAB’s focus is to ensure that the costs and benefits of new programs in clean energy, energy efficiency, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and climate resilience and adaptation, are equitably distributed and address the challenges faced by our most vulnerable populations and neighborhoods.
  • See How to Implement Climate Action within a Comprehensive Plan (2019). 
  • Minnesota and Climate Change (MN Environmental Quality Board) briefly summarizes the science and economics of climate change and benefits of proactive responses to it. 
  • See climate resources on community resilience to climate change (MPCA) under BPA 29.2.

EV-Ready City: 

  • Cities have tremendous influence over how and where infrastructure is built and serve as a critical and necessary partner in the market transformation effort to make electric vehicles a significant part of Minnesota’s passenger car fleet. In its comp plan, cities can adopt EV language in the areas of policy, regulation, capital improvements, administration, programs and leadership that put the city on a path to become an EV-ready city.
1 star Specify numeric targets (reductions in energy usage, GHG emissions) and target dates for at least city operations; adopt infrastructure resiliency goals; include EV charging stations as a permitted accessory use in select or all zoning districts. Report stand-alone sustainability plans under BPA 24.5; report stand-alone climate adaptation/resilience plans under BPA 29.2.
2 star Adopt a Climate and/or Energy Action Plan; become an EV-ready city; address climate protection in the private sector by, for example, establishing policies with numerical targets to reduce vehicle miles traveled, or setting a percentage renewable energy generation target for the entire city, such as a "25 by 25" goal (generating 25% of a city's electricity, heating and/or transportation fuels from renewable resources by 2025).
3 star Adopt an aggressive goal and discuss how the goal will be tracked and reported; report municipal utility targets for renewable energy generation and share progress to-date; adopt social resilience goals around education (STEM curriculum), population mix (retention of young people, racial/income diversity).

Who's doing it

Duluth - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
The Energy & Conservation chapter in Imagine Duluth (the comprehensive plan adopted in 2018) outlines strategies the city can use to encourage community-wide investment in appropriate local renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and biomass. The city re-articulated its goal of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050. It also recommends adopting a plan to reduce emissions from the city owned steam plant by 50% over 30 years and mentions the importance of planning for EV infrastructure.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Adam Fulton (City staff) | afulton@hermantownmn.com | 218-729-3618
Partners:
Grand Marais - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City/County Joint Energy Plan - Creation of a joint City and the County Energy Plan. In the summer of 2010, the Cook County Board, the City of Grand Marais, and the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP), formed a partnership to develop an Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Plan (ECRE Plan) that would pertain to both the City and the County. The purpose of this project was to better prepare our community for the challenges of a rapidly changing energy environment, and to be better able to take advantage of opportunities inherent in those challenges. The finished Plan was adopted by both the City and the County in 2012.

The Plan began by creating a database of baseline energy information and by soliciting public input about energy issues facing the governments, residents and businesses of Cook County and Grand Marais. The Plan included assessments of use and recommendations for improvements in both the public and private sector. The planning process engaged stakeholders throughout the county:

•A telephone survey of full-time residents, seasonal residents, and businesses.


•Collecting anecdotal information from a survey posted on the CCLEP website and e-mailed to a list of residents known to be interested in energy.


•Interviews in which residents are invited to comment on the Energy Plan development process.


•Energy Summits in which the process to develop The Energy Plan is presented and discussed.


•Issuance of Press Releases have been sent to the Cook County News Herald, WTIP and posted on Boreal.

•A printed copy made available at the Grand Marais Public Library.

Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shane Steele (Contractor) | sustainability@grandmarais.city | 507-884-5790
Partners: Cook County Board; Cook County Local Energy Project (GGLEP)
Maplewood - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Maplewood 2030 Comprehensive plan has sustainability goals that the city want to reach to decrease their carbon footprint.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shann Finwall (City Staff) | shann.finwall@maplewoodmn.gov | 651-249-2304
Partners:
Morris - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
In October 2018, the Morris Model team held a planning retreat at Camp Ripley with members of the Morris community from the City, the County, DENCO II, Superior Industries, Riverview Dairy LLC, the USDA Soils Lab, West Central Research and Outreach, UMM, the MAS School Board, and Ottertail Power Company. Over the course of the 2 day retreat, these community members were educated about the current state of energy usage and sustainability efforts in Morris, and they were able to give some input about what sustainability goals they'd like to see met in the near future.
In January 2019, a Strategic Plan was released with aggressive sustainability goals. The plan contains our overarching "Big 3" goals:
to produce 80% of the energy used IN our community BY our community, reducing our energy consumption by at least 30% by 2030, and ending the land-filling of waste in our community by 2025. It also contains goals for each of our community partners including the City, the County, the schools and University, and each of the various industrial businesses. The goals for partner organizations are based on 4 goal areas that were determined prior to the retreat, including energy, transportation, waste reduction and recycling, and education. In addition to goals, our strategic plan also set forth an updated list of 100 projects to work toward the goals, which has been dubbed "The Morris Model 100".
Our strategic plan has been adopted and ratified by Morris's City Council and UMM, and it is being presented to the MAS School Board, Stevens County, and the various industrial entities of the Morris community for ratification by or before June 1, 2019.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
Partners: UMN-Morris, WCROC, USDA Soils Lab, Stevens County, Morris Area Schools, DENCO II, Riverview Dairy LLC, Superior Industries, Ottertail Power Company
Oakdale - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In it's 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update, the City of Oakdale adopted the following goal: Consistent with State-wide goals, reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050 from 2007 levels in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jen Hassebroek (City staff) | jen.hassebroek@ci.oakdale.mn.us | 651-730-2723
Partners:
Robbinsdale - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2023
Implementation details:
The City adopted the Robbinsdale Energy Action Plan in August of 2023 which aims to avoid an additional 30% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and target the focus areas of residential energy efficiency, business energy efficiency, renewable energy, and reducing energy burden.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Kayla Kirtz (City Staff) | kkirtz@ci.robbinsdale.mn.us | 763-233-5654
Partners: Partners in Energy; Xcel Energy; CenterPoint Energy; Center for Energy and Environment
Rosemount - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Rosemount has signed on to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Program. Under the Agreement, participating cities commit to take following three actions:

- Strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns;

- Urge their state governments, and the federal government, to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol -- 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and

- Urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system

AND

The City of Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Task Force have worked with Xcel Energy's partners in energy program to develop a Energy Action Plan found here: https://www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/692/Energy-Action-Plan
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julia Hogan (City Staff) | julia.hogan@ci.rosemount.mn.us | 651-322-2052
Partners: U.S. Conference of Mayors, Xcel Energy (Partners in Energy)
Bloomington - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
The City of Bloomington is currently developing a Partners in Energy Action Plan, in partnership with Xcel Energy. The draft plan has been developed and will be reviewed by the Sustainability Commission in March 2018 and City Council in March or April of 2018. The draft plan has clear goals to reduce electrical, gas and transportation emissions; the goals are in the categories of municipal, commercial, residential and transportation.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Steve Gurney (City staff) | sgurney@BloomingtonMN.gov | 952-563-4606
Partners:
Burnsville - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
As measured from the 2009 Burnsville City Operations emissions level of 23,487 tonnes, the City of Burnsville will reduce GHG emissions associated with City operations to below 2009 levels by the end of 2011. Recognizing Burnsville's Next Generation Act obligations, the City will continue to reduce emissions from the baseline by an average annual reduction of 4% (measured over the span of a decade), after indexing emissions to growth in number of City employees relative to the rest of the state. The City has several implementation strategies directly linked to this goal, as seen in the attached Sustainability Plan starting on p.3.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sue Bast (City staff) | basts@ci.burnsville.mn.us | 952-895-4524
Partners:
Edina - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Comprehensive Plan Chapter 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 includes carbon reduction goals.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Partners:
Golden Valley - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2021
Implementation details:
The City of Golden Valley adopted an Energy Action Plan in 2021 with the goals to eliminate 65,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, add an estimated $8.8 million in first-year energy savings, and help households most severely impacted by the costs of energy over the next ten years. The other focus areas of the plan are reducing high and severe energy cost burden, improving energy efficiency, and supporting clean energy, which also includes preparing for electric vehicles. Progress reports for the Energy Action Plan are published on the energy webpage of Golden Valley's website.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ethan Kehrberg (City Staff) | ekehrberg@goldenvalleymn.gov | 7635938083
Partners:
Hackensack - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2021
Implementation details:
As part of the Energy and Environment Plan (included in attached Comprehensive Plan, pp.22ff), the city adopted energy goals:
1. Reduce citywide grid electricity consumption by 10% by 2026 (in 2020 average Residential annual consumption was 2,481MWh and City annual consumption was 229MWh).
2. Consume zero grid electricity in 25 years (by 2046) in the city limits.
3. Prevent or mitigate the negative impacts of power grid failure for Hackensack area residents and the City.
4. Communicate our achievements, plans, and direction to constituents and other stakeholders.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Gary Dietrich (Community Volunteer) | garydietrich@icloud.com | 612-801-3345
Partners: Region 5 Development Commission
Richfield - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2012
Implementation details:
City participates in the Regional Indicators Initiative, which prepared a citywide carbon baseline assessment for 2008-2013. On 10/13/20, the City Council approved a Climate Action Plan that staff wrote, with interdepartmental and resident feedback. This 5 year plan includes 80 actions spread throughout 6 focus areas and will be annually reviewed by the Sustainability Commission, with efforts presented to the City Council annually as well.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Rachel Lindholm (City Staff) | rlindholm@richfieldmn.gov | 6128619188
Partners:
Sartell - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
Implementation details:
The newly updated Comprehensive Plan ( approved in 2016) includes goals of reducing the city's carbon footprint, actively pursuing alternative energy productions, adopting ordinances and policies to provide incentives for energy efficiency, renewable energy and reductions in greenhouse gases.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Reducing the city's carbon footprint.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nate Keller (City staff) | nate.keller@sartellmn.com | 320-258-7316
Partners:
Elko New Market - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
Implementation details:
Please see the City's "Orderly Annexation Agreement", for numeric targets, target dates and infrastructure resiliency goals. The City has applied for EV grants to set up recharging stations for electric vehicles, but has not been successful in receiving one.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jake Skluzacek (City Staff) | jskluzacek@ci.enm.mn.us | 952-461-2777
Partners:
Farmington - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
The 2040 Comprehensive Plan has a Sustainability chapter that is focused in on energy use and energy sources.

Policy 4.1 of the sustainability chapter is to follow the state energy goal guidelines of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 20% of the city’s 2015 baseline levels by the year 2050 and to establish interim goals every 5-10 years.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jared Johnson (City Staff) | jjohnson@farmingtonmn.gov | 651-280-6824
Partners:
Red Wing - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Comprehensive Plan has established broad energy independence goals that need to be further refined. The city has 5 buildings with plans to have solar energy installed with funding from Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards program and Minnesota Made Rebate Program. Applications were sent to Xcel in May of 2012 - 3 of 5 have been approved - working on the last two. Also, the Sustainability Commission is working on updates to the City Zoning code related to renewable energy sources including solar and wind. (http://www.red-wing.org/comprehensiveplan.html)
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Paul Drotos (City staff) | paul.drotos@ci.red-wing.mn.us | 651-410-6744
Partners:
Rochester - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Rochester has adopted ambitious energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction goals. The first step, a baseline inventory of energy consumption, is in progress. While that is going on, Rochester has embarked on a Neighborhood Energy Challenge program (see http://www.rpu.org/your_home/power_services/neighborhood_energy_challenge/Default.htm)
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Metrics will be developed as part of the baseline inventory project.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Tony Benson (City staff) | tbenson@rpu.org | 507-280-1534
Partners:
Saint Paul - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City’s Climate protection/adaptation goals and objectives are embedded in all sections of the comprehensive plan.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Kurt Schultz (City staff) | kurt.schultz@ci.stpaul.mn.us | 651-266-6590
Partners:
Shoreview - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
The Comprehensive Plan has the following goals:
1. Incorporate sustainable practices and green building within the City of Shoreview’s local
governmental organization.
2. Advance sustainability and green building within the development community, among
residents and local businesses.
3. Promote the use of renewable sources of energy.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff) | ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov | 651-490-4665
Partners:
Stacy - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The Stacy Comprehensive Plan specifies the need to use and implement renewable energy.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Angie Comstock (City Staff) | deputycityclerk@stacymn.org | 651-462-4486
Partners: Stacy Planning Commission
Falcon Heights - Pending
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2023
Implementation details:
In 2023, the City of Falcon Heights voted to approve a resolution declaring a climate crisis and committing the City to taking action. Additionally, the Comprehensive Plan details specific measurements and goals for the City.
"The City will strive to make the community more resilient, save energy and reduce its carbon emissions and become more sustainable. The City’s Energy Goals are as follows:
1. Reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030
2. Secure 50% of the community’s electric energy from renewable energy sources by 2030, including 10% of its electricity from local renewable energy resources
3. Continue to secure nearly 100% of municipal facility electricity from renewable energy sources
4. Make the community “EV-ready” with electric vehicle charging stations in every public and private parking lot or ramp by 2030
5. Substantially increase participation of low- and moderate-incoming housing in energy efficiency programs so that 80% of these building have completed deep energy efficiency retrofits by 2030.
6. Assess critical public facilities for potential for “renewable energy plus storage” options installations to improve the resiliency of these facilities.

The City’s Energy Policies are as follows:
1. Promote utility, government, and nonprofit programs that encourage energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy.
2. Encourage net-zero energy development.
3. Engage the community in energy goal setting exercises.
4. Offer regulatory incentives within zoning.
5. Offer technical assistance for private sector developments to incorporate net-zero and/or solar-ready designs.
6. Require energy efficiency and renewable energy within PUD ordinance.
7. Adopt an energy benchmarking ordinance in cooperation with local energy utility providers.
8. Regularly re-evaluate zoning and permitting procedures to remove barriers to renewable energy.
9. Adopt a voluntary net-zero energy code."

Additionally, the City is currently in the Partners in Energy program and actively working to create an Energy Action Plan. Falcon Heights also completed the Charging Smart Program and is now designated a Bronze Level EV-Ready Community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Hannah Lynch (City Staff) | hannah.b.lynch@falconheights.org | 651.792.7613
Partners: Partners in Energy; Xcel Energy; CEE; Great Plains Institute (EV Ready Challenge, Bronze Recipient)