City Detail

Background Information

City of Columbia Heights
County: Anoka
Population: 20000
GreenStep City category: A
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 150
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Jesse Davies
City Staff
763-706-3706
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 2 ( )

City Assessment Files and City Performance Metrics

City councils pass a resolution to join the GreenStep program and are recognized at Step 1. Step 2 and Step 3 recognition levels reflect completed city actions, reported and rated below with stars (1 star = good, 2 stars = better, 3 stars = best). The Assessment File below summarizes completed city actions in a short Word file. Step 4 recognition is awarded to cities who report a minimum number of core metrics for the previous calendar year. These metrics aim to show the aggregate, quantitative results of taking multiple GreenStep actions. Step 5 cities show improvement in the Step 4 metrics. See yearly data for Steps 4&5. Additional city data can be found by reviewing information on B3 Benchmarking and Regional Indicators Initiative.

Assessment File

Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars.

Total completed actions: 17
1 star actions: 8
2 star actions: 7
3 star actions: 1

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

2 star - Action 1:

Enter building information into the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking database and routinely enter monthly energy, water use data for all city-owned buildings.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City has 5 main government buildings and 3 liquor stores. All 5 main buildings are entered in the BM3 system with data entered as far back as 2007 for some buildings.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Data to be used for building capital improvement priorities and scheduling. Also to implement energy reduction procedures and changes during routine maintenance.
Note to PHillip--still gathering more info on projects completed.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706
1 star - Action 2:

Make no/low cost indoor lighting and operational changes in city-owned/school buildings to reduce energy costs.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Starting in 2010 with the MSC (Municipal Service Center), Columbia Heights has been evaluating the older buildings for lighting improvements and efficiency. See attached for the project completed in 2010.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The City has noticed using the B3 tracking program that electrical usage is down since the upgrade for the MSC.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706
1 star - Action 3:

Invest in larger energy efficiency projects through performance contracting or other funding or through smaller retro-commissioning/retrofit projects in city-owned/school buildings.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City Facilities Maintenance Supervisor has been switching sections of the existing buildings over to LED as lighting fails or is due for upgrades, instead of waiting for a complete building project. See for example the LED outside lighting done for the liquor store attached.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Land Use Land Use

Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans {BP no.6}

2 star - Action 1:

Adopt a comprehensive plan or (for Category B & C cities) adopt a future land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The comprehensive plan was adopted in 2010 by City Council and subsequently the Met Council, as required by our City. There are sections integrated within the plan that address sustainability strategies, culminating in goals such as:
Goal (Chapter 10 page 7 ): Provide convenient access to mixed land use developments to encourage
more trips via non-motorized modes of travel and less by automobile.
Goal (chapter 10 page9): Preserve and reinvest in the housing stock...5. Encourage energy efficiency and sustainability in renovation and new construction.
Goal (chapter 10 page 12): Preserve and protect natural features and resources in existing parks and when planning and redeveloping park and recreational facilities. 1. Explore methods and costs of transitioning to more sustainable operational practices.
Goal (chapter 10 page 13): Increase and promote safe and efficient alternative modes of transportation.
Goal (chapter 10 page 15): Maintain or improve the quality of water resources within the City.
Goal (chapter 10 page 16): Prevent, to the extent possible, sediment from construction sites from
entering the City's surface water resources and to control the erosion from drainageways within the City.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Policies and ordinances updated to reference Comp plan.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706
1 star - Action 2:

Demonstrate that regulatory ordinances comply with the comprehensive plan including but not limited to having the zoning ordinance explicitly reference the comprehensive plan as the foundational document for decision making.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The comprehensive plan is referenced by the City code and especially for the zoning ordinances Chapter 9: Land Use. See attached sampling.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

1 star - Action 2:

Achieve higher density housing through at least two of the following strategies:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City's current residential redevelopment project, Grand Central Lofts, only allows condo and town home development on the lot (see link). Past residential redevelopment also focused on town home lots such as the Park View project as reported in the Comprehensive Plan (http://mn-columbiaheights.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/266) page 6. In addition, the City always has had small lots as allowing in the Code (see attached excepts).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Efficient Highway- and Auto-Oriented Development {BP no.9}

2 star - Action 1:

Establish design goals for at least one highway/auto-oriented corridor/cluster.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Columbia Heights adopted new design guidelines for the City in 2003. This included guidelines for the Central Ave (Hwy 65) corridor. The Central Ave street-scaping project was also completed in 2003 which included wider sidewalks, safer pedestrian crosswalks, and new tree/shrub plantings.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Transportation Transportation

Living Streets {BP no.11}

2 star - Action 6:

Implement traffic calming policy/measures, including lane conversions (road diets), roundabouts, shared space and depaving, in at least one street redevelopment project.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Columbia Heights between 2004 and 2007 the City redeveloped and old industrial area into a town home residential district. This was projected to increase traffic considerably at the corner of Jefferson and 39th Ave (now called Huset parkway). A roundabout was designed and built to improve traffic flow for the area. This was in accordance with the Comprehensive plan (Chapter 6 page 2)
GOAL: Provide for safe and efficient roadway transportation.
1. Review and analyze high traffic crash locations on a biannual basis.
2. Work with MnDOT and Anoka County to provide means for low-cost traffic congestion mitigation.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 star - Action 1:

Certify as a Tree City USA.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Columbia Heights has met the requirements for a designated "Tree City" USA for the last 22 years. In addition, the Mayor and Council declare May as Arbor Month for the City and encourages additional tree plantings.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706
2 star - Action 6:

Build community capacity to protect existing trees by one or more of:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Public Works Maintenance Superintendent is also a Certified Forester (see attached certificate). He inspects City owned trees as well as private hazardous and diseased trees and manages the City's diseased tree management program (see link).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

Not rated - Action 6:

Reduce de-icing and dust suppressant salt use to prevent permanent surfacewater and groundwater pollution.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City has a complete Storm Water Pollution plan. The City's SWPPP webpage outlines the BMPs adopted by the City and various links to ordinances including an erosion sediment control ordinance adopted in 2008.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The City's SWPPP was reviewed by the MPCA, who re-authorized a Permit to discharge storm water from our system.
Note to PHillip--still gathering more info on projects completed.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Surface Water {BP no.19}

1 star - Action 4:

Adopt a shoreland ordinance for all river and lake shoreland areas; reduce flooding and costs through The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City's Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (see link) includes an ordinance to protect and regulate shoreline design and activity (see attached).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems {BP no.20}

1 star - Action 1:

Compare the energy use and financial performance of your facilities with other peer plants using standardized, free tools.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City's Comprehensive plan (see link Chapter 9) requires the water distribution system to complete an engineering study and CIP every 5 years (see attached report cover) to look for water losses, flow and pressure evaluations, and infrastructure improvements to improve efficiency of the system.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706
2 star - Action 2:

Plan and budget for motor maintenance and upgrades so as to assure the most energy efficient, durable and appropriate equipment is available when upgrades or break downs occur.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City recently conducted upgrades to Pump Station #2 per the Engineering study and CIP. Part of the requirements as set out in the contract (see attached excepts of project manual) was to improve energy efficiency of the pump station and better motors.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Project was recently finished and will use SCADA data to review energy efficiency outcomes.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706
1 star - Action 3:

Establish an on-going budget and program for decreasing inflow and infiltration into sewer lines and losses in drinking water systems.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Columbia Heights has been working on decreasing inflow and infiltration into the sanitary sewer system since 2004. The city replaced all low lying manhole covers and included an inspection of manhole structures and sewer mains. The City also completed a sump pump inspection program that inspected every property in the city and removed sump pump and roof drain cross-connections to the sanitary sewer. The City annually lines sewer mains in priority based on engineering studies (distance lined is limited by annual budget amounts). The City is also conducting smoke testing in problem areas to check service lines as well.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

3 star - Action 5:

Lower the environmental and health risk footprint of a brownfield remediation/redevelopment project beyond regulatory requirements; report brightfield projects.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Columbia Heights created a new vibrant public place on a former dump site with past buildings that had become blighted. The new Columbia Heights Library is a well-positioned hub that will spark revitalization of the community’s “Main Street”.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
MN Brownfields recognized the Library with a 2016 ReScape award in their Small City Impact category.
Descriptive File:
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization; Anoka Co.; US HUD; Friends of the Library
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706

Local Food {BP no.27}

2 star - Action 2:

Facilitate creation of home/community gardens, chicken & bee keeping, and incorporation of food growing areas/access in multifamily residential developments.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City Code allows permitted accessory use of gardens for single family and multifamily housing units (see attached excepts from City Code of Ordinances).
Columbia Heights has had a residential garden plot for many years (see link). In addition, the school has a garden to teach kids how to grow their own food see link http://www.colheights.k12.mn.us/education/components/layout/default.php?sectiondetailid=10127&.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff) | Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us | 763-706-3706