City Detail

Background Information

City of Ely
County: St. Louis
Population: 3460
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 38
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Harold Langowski
City Staff
218-226-5474
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: 26
1 star actions: 17
2 star actions: 5
3 star actions: 1

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Private Buildings {BP no.2}

2 star - Action 6:

Provide a financial or other incentive to private parties who add energy/sustainability improvements, meet the SB 2030 energy standard, or renovate using a green building or energy framework.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Loan and grant opportunities for business and residential upgrades
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

1 star - Action 3:

Plan for reuse of large-format retail buildings, or work with a local school, church or commercial building to either add-on space or repurpose space into new uses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Study was completed to repurpose the Community Center.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Land Use Land Use

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

1 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:
Ely made a comprehensive plan that was updated in 2012.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
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:
Regulatory ordinances comply with the comprehensive plan.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

1 star - Action 1:

Limit barriers to higher density housing by including in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City has 17 acres of single family housing with 8-10 lots per acre.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
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:
In the downtown district,apartments are allowed above existing businesses.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
1 star - Action 3:

Achieve higher intensity commercial/industrial land uses through at least one of the following strategies:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Central Business District has no minimum lot size and zero-lot-line setbacks.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

1 star - Action 5:

Have a downtown zoning district that allows residential and compatible commercial development.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City is redeveloping commercial 2 district to allow for residential and commercial development. Also redeveloping downtown zoning district to encourage mixed use development.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
1 star - Action 7:

Create incentives for vertical mixed-use development in appropriate locations (downtown, commercial districts near colleges or universities, historic commercial districts).

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The zoning code encourages space above businesses to be used as residential and office space.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Transportation Transportation

Living Streets {BP no.11}

1 star - Action 1:

Adopt a complete streets policy, or a living streets policy, which addresses landscaping and stormwater.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City operates under a complete streets policy for decisions on streets and sidewalks. The "Ely Tree Board," made up of urban foresters, manage all public/urban trees.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
2 star - Action 3:

Modify a street in compliance with the city's complete streets policy.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
9th Avenue was completely redeveloped to incorporate retaining walls, drains, storm water catches, and sidewalks.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

1 star - Action 1:

Increase walking, biking and transit use by one or more of the following means:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The "Incredible Ely Group" and "Ely Health and Wellness" are working to develop route maps and signs for walking and biking.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
1 star - Action 2:

Conduct an Active Living campaign such as a Safe Routes to School program.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Ely has a Safe Routes to School program. As part of the 9th Avenue redevelopment the sidewalk was extended to the youth center building.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

Pending - Action 2:

Purchase energy used by city government - via the municipal utility, green tags, community solar garden, 3rd party - with a higher renewable percentage than required by Minnesota law.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City purchases power from Lake Country Power. LCP utilizes renewables such as hydropower and is increasing renewable sources this year.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 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:
City has a "Tree Board" that manages city owned trees. One member on the Board, a local botany professor, provides technical assistance on tree management. Bill, another local expert, consults the City on invasive species such as buckthorn and other water based invasive species.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

1 star - Action 1:

Make improvements within your city's system of parks, offroad trails and open spaces.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
A new playground was installed in the downtown park. The band shell was also reroofed. The area is being designated to be an off road trail head.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
3 star - Action 3:

Achieve minimum levels of city green space and maximize the percent within a ten-minute walk of community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City has approximately 70 acres of municipal park for its 3,500 residents. Over 90% of residents live within 1/2 mile of park and protected green space.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

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 has a shoreland ordinance.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Septic Systems {BP no.21}

1 star - Action 1:

Report to landowners suspected noncompliant or failing septic systems as part of an educational, informational and financial assistance and outreach program designed to trigger voluntary landowner action to improve septic systems.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City speaks with landowners about existing septic systems outside of town. If septic systems fail it becomes a community process to address the failing system.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Sustainable Consumption and Waste {BP no.22}

1 star - Action 6:

Improve recycling services and expand to multi-unit housing and commercial businesses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
There is only 1 private waste hauler.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
1 star - Action 7:

Improve/organize residential trash, recycling and organics collection by private and/or public operations and offer significant volume-based pricing on residential garbage and/or incentives for recycling.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City's 1 waste hauler service offers volume-based pricing.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

2 star - Action 3:

Promote sustainable tourism in your city, and green tourism resources to tourism and hospitality businesses in/around the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City promotes outdoor based tourism. The City promotes itself as the "Gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area."
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

Pending - Action 2:

Promote resident/business purchases and/or generation of clean energy by:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
There is a possibility of a solar energy project that would allow residents to purchase solar from one location.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

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:
Ely has a community garden that brings local, fresh food to the people of Ely
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
2 star - Action 3:

Create, assist with and promote local food production/distribution within the city:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City owns an open lot where the community can grow produce. School uses garden for educational programs.

City has a farmer's market.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474

Business Synergies and EcoDistricts {BP no.28}

Pending - Action 3:

Require, build or facilitate at least four attributes in a business/industrial park project:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Because the City is 1 mile by 1 mile, everything is within walking distance.

The City has renovated several buildings including the Insula Restaurant; buildings adjacent to the old movie theater were renovated to create a bigger theater; drug store is undergoing renovation to become a mixed use building with bakery, retail, and office space. All buildings were brought up to MN code including new water heaters, furnaces, and other energy efficiency measures.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474