City Detail

Background Information

City of Falcon Heights
County: Ramsey
Population: 5300
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 7
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Justin Markon
City Staff
651-792-7600
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 5 ( )

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: 27
1 star actions: 14
2 star actions: 10
3 star actions: 3

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:
City staff inputs electric and gas utility data for city hall into the Minnesota B3 database each month as bills are processed. Data has been entered dating back to January 2007 (over four years of data).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
This tool has allowed us to track electric and gas usage over a multi-year period. This is especially useful as we evaluate the effectiveness of a lighting retrofit project that was completed in 2010 & 2012.
Descriptive File:
Lightinghouse USA (2012 Street Light LED's)
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
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:
Our two park shelters were listed under the B3 program as using significantly more energy that their counterparts across the state. An Xcel Energy representative conducted an audit of the buildings and determined that simply putting motion detectors on the interior lights would be the most cost effective conservation measure.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The city installed motion detectors on interior lights and will me monitoring the results over the next several months by continuing to enter the data into the B3 database.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
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:
After conducting an energy audit at city hall, lighting in the entire building (city hall, council chambers, public works garage, and fire department) was retrofitted to a more efficient standard. In 2012, the City worked with Lightinghouse USA to install LED bulbs in approximately 40 decorative street lights.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
With the assistance of Xcel Energy rebates, the expected payback for the upfront capital costs is expected to be less than two years.
Descriptive File:
Lightinghouse USA
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Efficient Existing Private Buildings {BP no.2}

1 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:
The city has implemented a building permit fee rebate program when Energy Star rated improvements are installed (including water related appliances).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Upon verification by the city's building inspector, 50% of the building permit fee is returned to the homeowner if qualified improvements are installed.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 star - Action 5:

Use LED/solar-powered lighting for a flashing sign or in a street, parking lot or park project.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In 2012, the City worked with Lightinghouse USA to install LED bulbs in approximately 40 decorative street lights.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
This installation will not only save the City $$$ on utility costs, but the life span of the LED bulbs will save time and resources on electirician costs for old bulb replacement.
Descriptive File:
Lightinghouse USA
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

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: 2009
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights adopted a comprehensive plan in 2009 (Metropolitan Council approval received in 2009)
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
2 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:
Upon approval by the Metropolitan Council, the city adopted several zonign ordinances that were meant to bring the city's zoning code into compliance with the comprehensive plan. These amendments included allowing for higher densities as well as mixed uses along transit corridors.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
1 star - Action 3:

Include requirements in comprehensive and/or other plans for intergovernmental coordination addressing regional land use and watershed / wellhead impacts, infrastructure, transportation, economic development and city/regional services.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In the approved comprehensive plan, the city documents that intergovernmental coordination is integral to the operation of the city. Areas of shared service delivery include transportation, watershed impacts, land use, fire, police, and sewer and water.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

3 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:
Upon adopting the most recent comprehensive plan, the city revised it's zoning ordinances and approve a new R5-M zoning district which allows for up to 40 units per acre. Some of these re-zoned areas are adjacent to or across the street from commerically zoned areas.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Transportation Transportation

Living Streets {BP no.11}

2 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 of Falcon Heights adopted a complete streets policy in October 2011 after receiving input from the city's Environment Commission.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
1 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:
The City of Falcon Heights implemented a streetscape project along Larpenteur Avenue which included hundreded of trees, native plantings, and decorative concrete at strategic intersections so that drivers know that this street is not only a major road through the city, but it is also a roadway that is used by cyclists and pedestrians on a daily basis.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

2 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 City of Falcon Heights created a walking club for residents to join where they can meet up with fellow walkers and chart their progress. We also provided a map of popular walking routes in the city. The city also received a grant through Transit for Livable Communities to place over 20 new bike parkign stations within the city.

We are also working with the City of Minneapolis to access $2500 through a Transit for Livable Communities grant to place 25 bike parking stations througout the city in 2011
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

2 star - Action 1:

Adopt a sustainable purchasing policy or administrative guidelines/practices directing that the city purchase at least:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights has adopted a policy stating that the city will purchase paper products meeting the minimum standards set by the EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines and appliances that have received the Energy Star certification
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
1 star - Action 7:

Lower the environmental footprint of meetings and events in the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights hosts several community-wide events each year (Ice Cream Social in July, National Night Out, Winterfest in January, Spring Together in May, and at each event we distribute information about city programs. Information we distribute often includes stormwater programs, "50 environmental tips", city rebate program on Energy Star purchases, and other environmentally friendly programs.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 star - Action 4:

Maximize tree planting along your main downtown street or throughout the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In 2010 the City of Falcon Heights completed a major streetscaping project along our major thoroughfare, Larpenteur Avenue. The nearly two mile stretch of county road is the second most heavily traveled raodway in the city (behind Snelling Avenue, a state highway). In addition, Larpenteur is a major gateway for the over one million visitors to the Minnesota State Fair. The project added 116 trees in the boulevards and medians where only concrete was present before.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The project has beautified our main street and created a "sense of place" as people commute through our community.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

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:
Along with the City of Roseville and the University of Minnesota, we received a Transit for Livable Communities grant of $1.2 million to construct a new pathway from Rosedale mall to the intercampus transitway on the U of MN campus. The portion in Falcon Heights will complete a gap in our sidewalk/trail system along Fairview Avenue. Construction was completed in November 2011.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
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:
Each residential parcel in Falcon Heights is within 1/2 mile of a park (either city owned or used by the city as a park, such as a shared elementary school playground).
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
1 star - Action 8:

Develop a program to involve community members in hands-on land restoration, invasive species management and stewardship projects.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights sponsors an "adopt a park" program where residents who live nearby city parks organize a few times a year to clean up their neighborhood park.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The groups usually meet once in the spring (after the snow melts) and again in the fall to clean the parks.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Local Air Quality {BP no.23}

1 star - Action 2:

Regulate outdoor wood burning, using ordinance language, performance standards and bans as appropriate, for at least one of the following:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights revised our recreational fire ordinance to limit the location, duration, and type of fuel that is allowed with outdoor fires.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The number of complaints regarding nuisance smoke has been dramatically reduced.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

1 star - Action 1:

Use a city commission, or committee to lead, coordinate, and report to and engage community members on implementation of sustainability best practices.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights has provided a status report of our GreenStep actions and carbon footprint analysis on the city's webpage.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
2 star - Action 3:

Measure and report progress on sustainability indicators including energy use/greenhouse gas emissions, social vitality/social inclusion outcome measures.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights, through the efforts of our environment commission, led an exercise where we measured the carbon footprint of the entire city (not just city operations). By measuring factors such as transportation, trash, water production, and other factors, we now have two years worth of data and have pledged to continue to collect data for several years to come.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The data collected will assist us in focusing our efforts in areas where improvement is needed. For example, the initial results show that while most of our efforts have been focused on residential projects, most of our carbon emmissions come from our industrial, commercial, and institutional establishments.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

1 star - Action 2:

Create or participate in a marketing/outreach program to connect businesses with assistance providers, including utilities, who provide personalized energy, waste or sustainability audits and assistance.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Minnesota Waste Wise, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, contacted the city about their new partnership with Ramsey County Public Health (Environmental Services) in which they offered waste and recycling consultation services to any Ramsey County business, free of charge. These services focus on helping businesses waste less and recycle more in order to improve thei bottom lines. We provided their organization with a comprehensive list of businesses in Falcon Heights so that they could reach out and assist them in their recycling and waste reduction efforts.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
3 star - Action 7:

Conduct or participate in a buy local campaign for community members and local businesses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Falcon Heights has implemented a "buy local" campaign. We solicited our local retail establishments to participate, and created a wallet-sized card that is available for download from our website. Once a certain number of businesses have been visited, residents can drop off the card at city hall to be entered into a quarterly drawing for a prize from the participating retailers.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

2 star - Action 1:

Adopt wind energy and/or biomass ordinances that allow, enable, or encourage appropriate renewable energy installations.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Falcon Heights has adopted solar ordinance that clearly defines standards for installing solar equipment. Prior to this ordinance residents needed to obtain a conditional use permit, issued on a case-by-case basis, in order to install solar equipment. This ordinance makes approval of such equipment much more accessible to residents.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Local Food {BP no.27}

1 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:
In 2013, the City Council adopted a chicken keeping ordinance for the City.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600
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:
Since 2007 the City of Falcon Heights has operated a community garden. Priority for plots is given first to apartment dwellers (who do not have a yard of their own), then other Falcon Heights residents, and then non-residents. Each year there has been a waiting list of people who wish to rent a plot the next year.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The garden was so successful that after 2008 it was expanded by nearly 50% (from 20 plots to 29 plots). Beginning in 2010 the gardeners began to donate extra produce to the local food shelf through the city's "Adopt-a-Crop" program.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600

Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience {BP no.29}

2 star - Action 2:

Integrate climate resilience into city or tribal planning, policy, operations, and budgeting processes.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
A Falcon Heights Resiliency Analysis was completed in the spring of 2016. To follow up on this effort, the City of Falcon Heights held a Resiliency Event on June 13, 2016, supported with Best Practice 29 Event Sponsorship funding. Held in the Council Chambers, this event engaged residents from Falcon Heights and neighboring cities. Presenters included Erin Rupp from Pollinate MN, Trevor Drake from CERTs, and Alex Van Loh from Master Water Stewards Program. Abby Finis from the Great Plains Institute presented the Resiliency Analysis. The goal of this event was twofold: 1) to inform residents about what the city has been doing to incorporate resilience into its planning and operation efforts, and 2) to engage and motivate residents to take their own action to enhance resilience in the community. Several aspects of resilience can take place at people’s homes. This event served as a practical workshop to guide and inform residents about what they can do to increase energy efficiency, consider renewable energy options, plant pollinator friendly yards, and reduce their impact on storm water contaminants. The attendees numbered in the 20-30 range with residents from Lauderdale, Falcon Heights and Roseville. It was a diverse representation of all cities. Members of the Falcon Heights Environmental Commission also attended. Attendees participated in interactive components of the event through real-time polling through their smart devices. There were also numerous opportunities for attendees to ask questions and engage in rich dialogue about the topics presented.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The Resiliency Analysis will serve as the foundation from which the City will pursue incorporating resilience into its comprehensive planning effort. (Click on "view file" below to see the Resiliency Analysis.) The event was a pivotal step in engaging the community and the commission in resiliency topics. Many of the ideas and concepts presented at the event were new to the attendees and created an environment of action. (Click on the descriptive link below to see a video of the event.) Feedback was received after the event and through follow-up conversations with attendees and with the Environmental Commission members that attended. The feedback was extremely positive. There was a lot of excitement around the topic of pollinators and resiliency. The Environmental Commission decided to draft a pollinator resolution. Other areas of interest included the Good Acre CSA that began operations this summer as well as composting initiatives. Ideas that carried the most attention were those that could be done at the home or by individuals. There was interest by attendees and the Environmental Commission to continue events like this in the future. The Commission also will be looking at creating more feedback from the community at-large through surveys on the City’s listserv and through newsletters.
Descriptive File: view file
Great Plains Institute
For more information contact:
Justin Markon (City staff) | justin.markon@falconheights.org | 651-792-7600