City Detail

Background Information

City of Grand Rapids
County: Itasca
Population: 10869
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 75
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Julie Kennedy
City Staff
218-326-7024
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: 22
1 star actions: 10
2 star actions: 6
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:
Implementation details:
Grand Rapids Public Library began using B-3
Benchmarking in Feb. 2010. As of 12/5/2012 The City of Grand Rapids has implemented B3 benchmarking on five additional city buildings. These six buildings are the six main buildings owned by the City of Grand Rapids. At least three years of data has been entered for each building. Data will continually be monitored and modifications will be made to improve building efficency when possible.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
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:
Implementation details:
Yearly boiler inspection is Performed by Gartner Refridgeration and Temperature controls to insure that all city boilers are running at their maximum efficency. B3 is used in all major city building to monitor energy use and is update monthly.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Gartner Refridgeration and Temperature Controls Duluth MN.
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
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:
Implementation details:
3 New 97% high efficency mini boilers were installed in the Grand Rapids Fire Hall in 2011 replacing the 78% ribbion type boiler that were 25 years old.
Outcome measures/metrics:
20% reduction is gas consumption
Descriptive File:
Work was performed by Klamm Mechanical Nashwauk MN.
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
1 star - Action 4:

Implement information technology efforts and city employee engagement to reduce plug loads, building energy use and workflow efficiency.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Building management program installed to manage all heating and cooling units in all major city buildings from office computer or home laptop. Allows us to program units for evening set back temp, none work days, holidays and occupance sensors to shut rooftop units off.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Building management system gives us the opportunity to save on our gas and electric bills by controlling the run time of our heating and cooling units.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
2 star - Action 7:

Install for one or more city-owned/school buildings one of the following efficiency measures:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
In Decemeber of 2011 a wide gap plate heat exchanger was installed at the Grand Rapids Public Library which utilizes waste water from the Blandin Paper Co.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Use of this new heating system has reduced our natural gas usage by nearly 70%.
Descriptive File:
Gartner Refridgeration and Temperature Control Duluth MN.
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

Pending - Action 2:

Purchase LEDs for all future street lighting and traffic signals.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The traffic signal system is owned/operated by MNDOT. MNDOT has recently upgraded and interconnected the city wide signal system to optimize the flow of traffic through the city.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
1 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:
Implementation details:
The City of Grand Rapids utilizes solar powered led lights as warning signal in residential areas to identify approaching intersections. They are also used at crosswalks at school road entrances.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024

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:
Implementation details:
The City of Grand Rapids has recently updated its Comprehensive Plan. The 2011 Comprehensive Plan articulates our community's values and vision for the future.


Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
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:
Implementation details:
Adopted in 2007 Sec 30-32-Duties and responsibilities (1) Preparation of city plan.It shall be the function and duty of the planning commission to prepare and adopt a comprenhensive city plan for the physical development of the city

Upon the adoption of the city plan or section thereof in order that they will serve as a pattern and guide for the orderly physical development of the city and as a basis or the efficient expenditure of th e funds thereof relating to the subjects of such city plan. Such means shall consist of a zoning ordinance, the control of subdivision plats, a plan of future streets, coordination of the normal public improvemnts of the city,a longterm program of capital expenditures and such other matters as will accomplish the purpose of this article.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Urban 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:
Implementation details:
The city of Grand Rapids was reconized as a tree city usa in 1989 and has been continualy reconized each year since.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
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:
Implementation details:
The City Of Grand Rapids currently have two certified tree inspectors on is also a member of International society of Arboriculture..Kelly Morris Mn. Dept. of Natural Resources Certified Tree inspector.#20064920 Kelly Morris International Society of Arboriculture #MN-4041A

Jim Columbus Mn. Dept of Natural Resources Certified Tree Inspector #20073056
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

3 star - Action 2:

Complete a stormwater management assessment and be recognized for implementing the actions therein.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Grand Rapids has been recognized on the Leader Board of the Blue Star Award program.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
2 star - Action 3:

Adopt by ordinance one or more of the following stormwater infiltration/management strategies:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City's Stormwater Utility Ordinance combines 1.5 inch rainfall on-site rainwater infiltration design requirement for construction sites and a stormwater runoff volume limit to pre-development volumes for the 5-year, 24-hour rainfall maximum event.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
2 star - Action 4:

Create a stormwater utility that uses variable fees to incentivize stormwater infiltration, minimize the volume of and pollutants in runoff, and educate property owners.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City's stormwater utility fees are variable on residential, multi-family, institutional, commercial and industrial pacels. Fees are variable on all parcels with the exception of residential.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
Not rated - Action 6:

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

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Stormwater Utility Ordinance has been adopted and implemented. Sites < and > 1 acre are identified in ordinance. Annual on-site inspections are preformed by the City.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

3 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:
Implementation details:
In the last 5 years several notable projects remedied gaps in our trail sidewalk trail system. Southwest grade school had a fragmented sidewalk system virtually making it impossible for safe pedestrian accessibility for childrem walking to school. Solar powered crosswalks signage,a pedestrian bridge and 1.5 miles of trails and sidewalks to connect the school and Grussendorf Park to the neighborhoods in the SW quadrant of town. In 1999 an Orderly Annexation Plan was developed and passed to annex the rural areas of Grand Rapids Township into the City of Grand Rapids. Over four miles of paved trails were developed in our largest annexed area to connect the Horseshoe lake/Isleview area of road pedestrian travel to the amenities of the City Of Grand Rapids. This travel as developed into one of our most popular recreational pedestrian trails. Crystal Lake Park was an open space park without any connectivity between North Pokegama Ave and 1st Ave NE sidewalks. A concrete sidewalk was placed through Crystal Lake Park to aconnecat the two sidewalks. A major project which took multi projects and several years to complete was connecting the SW,SE and NE quadrants with trails and sidewalks. This included safe travel crossing major (Highways 169S, Hwy 169N), the Mississippi River and the BNSF railroad. Now you can safely walk or bike to the gateway of the Mesabi Trail which is located in Grand Rapids. The Mesabi Trail offers an abundance of nature and outdoor experiences. You may choose to walk,hike,bike,roller blade,ski,snowshoe and in some areas snowmobile. The trail is over 150 miles long and traqverses through 25 comminities with rich significane of the Mesabi Iron Range,Forest Lands,Lakes and streams.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
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:
Implementation details:
The city of Grand Rapids contains 15,613 acres. In side the city limits there are 23 parks containing 226.4 acres,nearly 1400 acres of lakes and rivers and countless acres of county tax forfiet land. This is nearley 22.6 acres per 1000 residents based on parks alone and a city population of 10,000. All city residents are with in one half mile of park, river or lake.The countless county tax forfiet land allows for miles of walking and hunting oportunities with in the city limites.
Outcome measures/metrics:
The abundance of parks, lakes, Mississippi River and county tax forfiet land makes for an incridible oportunity for all residents to enjoy the outdoors.
Descriptive File:
1 star - Action 8:

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

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Established as a subcommited under the Economic Developement Commitee the Mississippi River Front Commitee was establishe in January of 2010.The group is responsible for the clean up of trash along the banks of the Mississippi with in the city limits of Grand Rapids.
Outcome measures/metrics:
As a result of this comittee we now have clean river banks.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024

Sustainable Consumption and Waste {BP no.22}

1 star - Action 1:

Improve city operations and procurement to prevent and reuse, recycle and compost waste from all public facilities (including libraries, parks, schools, municipal health care facilities), and minimize use of toxics and generation of hazardous waste.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Grand Rapids has gone to paperless agenda packets for the City Council and Planning Commission. The Legistar software was purchased in an effort to reduce the amount of paper used to create agenda packets. The packets are all generated electroniclly and emailed out to the City Council and Planning Commission. The hope is to eventually have all City Boards and Commissions using the Legistar software.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
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:
Implementation details:
In August 2012 a contract was signed with Waste Management for garbage removal and recyclable materials. Using a 64 gallon cart recycling volumes have increased typically 35%-40%. The old bins only held 18 gallons of material by going to 64 gallon carts every other week the availabe volume is almost quadrupled. Additionally, trash volume has decreased between 18% to23%.Byreducing the trash volume, residents are often able to down size to a smaller trash container, enabling a further reduction in their monthly rate.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Business Synergies and EcoDistricts {BP no.28}

Pending - Action 1:

Help businesses register as users of the Minnesota Materials Exchange and document their exchanges/sales of byproducts with other local/regional businesses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
In Januar 2010 the Grand Rapids Public Library began using waste water from the Blandin Paper Mill to heat the entire Libray. This was accomplished by installing a plate heat exchanger which transfers the heat from the waste water to the glycol which circulates through the Library.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Expectations were that we would see a 30% reduction. We are currently seeing a 50% reductions.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Julie Kennedy (City staff) | jakennedy@grpuc.org | 218-326-7024
2 star - Action 2:

Document that at least one business/building uses waste heat or water discharge from another business.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
In January 2012 the City of Grand Rapids began using waste water from paper production at the Blandin Paper Mill to heat the Grand Rapids Public Library. This was accompliched by construction a new building to house a wide gap plate heat exchanger which transfers the heat from the waste water to the glycol which circulates throught the library.This project has allowed us to reduce our natural gas cosumption by nearly 70&.The new building also has a living roof. Half of the new building also will house and education center which will be able to be monitored by anyone with access to the internet.Views can view the flow through the heat exchange from an ajorning viewing room. Those viewing the internet will be able to monitor the intire library heating system and actualy see how the system works. Internet users will also have access to the k-12 critea which will pose a question and answer specific to each grade. Solar and wind project will also be monitored in educational portion of this project.
Outcome measures/metrics:
70&natural gas reduction. Educational portion of project availabe for all to veiw via internet.
Descriptive File: