City Detail

Background Information

City of Granite Falls
County: Yellow Medicine,Chippewa
Population: 2806
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 35
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Crystal Johnson
City Staff
320-56-3011
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: 29
1 star actions: 8
2 star actions: 17
3 star actions: 4

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

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: 2016
Implementation details:
replaced City owned Library with all LED lighting.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Resulted in more efficient lighting.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
2 star - Action 4:

Implement IT 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:
Year action initially completed: CJ
Implementation details:
City employees are required to shut lights and computers off every evening to save power. Appliances also not in use are often unplugged. Some lights in City Hall are further now motion sensing lights saving power when no one is around.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Monitor electric costs.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Efficient Existing Private Buildings {BP no.2}

2 star - Action 1:

Create or participate in a marketing/outreach/incentive program to promote/achieve residential energy/water use reduction and energy efficiency.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The City partners with CMPAS to offer a rebate incentive program for more energy efficient lighting, appliances, water heaters and more to encourage both businesses and residents to be more energy efficient.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
CMPAS
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 star - Action 2:

Purchase LEDs for all future street lighting and traffic signals.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2013
Implementation details:
The city of Granite Falls each year replaces a block or two of street lights to LEDs.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
This results in more efficient lighting.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
3 star - Action 8:

Replace the city's existing traffic signal indications with LEDs.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
Replace all traffic signals with LEDS. The City of Granite Falls has one traffic signal located at the intersection of HWY 212/23. The city worked with MnDOT as part of an intersection upgrade project to now use LED lighting in the traffic signal.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
MnDOT
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

2 star - Action 1:

Adopt an historic preservation ordinance/regulations and encourage adaptive reuse.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The City implemented a downtown historic district which includes historic preservation friendly language to preserve the historic look of downtown Granite Falls. Further a committee will review any improvements proposed by the downtown businesses to ensure they follow the historic preservation district requirements.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Cathy Anderson EDA Director
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

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: 2022
Implementation details:
The city updated our long range comprehensive plan. The plan \ includes actions for an active living/placemaking/biking planning. Also improving river access and making the river space more community/residential friendly to encourage physical activity.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
Granite Falls EDA
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
1 star - Action 4:

Include ecological provisions in the comprehensive plan that explicitly aim to minimize open space fragmentation and/or establish a growth area with expansion criteria.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
Implementation details:
The City recently approved the Memorial Park Master Plan. Over the years the park has suffered ecological degradation as invasive species have proliferated. A strong piece of this plan is to design a program for ongoing maintenance of invasive species. Certain areas of the park are specially marked to preserve unique plant species. Different kinds of plants have been identified in the plan. Invasive cattail has also been addressed.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The City has been awarded a grant to start implementing the master plan
Descriptive File:
RDC, and a consultant assisted
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

2 star - Action 1:

Organize or participate in a community planning/placemaking/design process for the city/a mixed-use district, including specific community engagement practices that engage cultural and income diverse community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2022
Implementation details:
The city is a partner in having a City Artist in Residency. We are the first smaller community in size to have a city artist. The goal of the artist is to engage community members, reach out to under representative populations (Low-income, Indigenous, People of Color and more), create social inclusion activities within the community and events. A community committee oversees the program.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Department of Public Transformation, Granite Falls Arts Council
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Transportation Transportation

Living & Complete 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: 2022
Implementation details:
The City applied for and is receiving a Transportation Alternatives Grant to address street gaps/lack of connectivity/safety. County Rd 5 currently has no pedestrian use access adjacent to a major roadway. In recent years, traffic has increased making pedestrian walking and biking in the road very unsafe. Not only does a new trail address this safety concern, but it further connects homes up on a hill to a trail system that leads into the downtown business area or remedying a street-trail gap that has been identified.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Transportation Alternative Grant Program
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

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: 2017
Implementation details:
City has added the first bike station in the community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
2 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: 2019
Implementation details:
In partner with SHIP, Yellow Medicine East High School, The Granite Falls Hospital, and the City of Granite Falls identified multiple new walking/biking routes throughout the community with signage.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
To encourage residents and visitors to walk and bike around the community.
Descriptive File:
SHIP, Yellow Medicine School, Granite Falls Hospital, City of Granite Falls
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
2 star - Action 3:

Prominently identify mobility options: transit; paratransit/Dial-A-Ride; ridesharing/cab services; rental cars; bikes; airports.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2000
Implementation details:
The Heartland Express is the public transit system for Granite Falls. It provides door to door transportation for within the city. To obtain a ride, a person can call the number provided on the city's website.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
3 star - Action 6:

Add/expand transit service, or promote car/bike sharing.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
SHIP partnered with the City of Granite Falls to start a Public Bike Service within the City of Granite Falls.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Three Bikes available at no costs for the public to check out and be active around the community/tourism.
Descriptive File:
Countryside Public Health SHIP
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

2 star - Action 1:

Certify as a Tree City USA.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 1986
Implementation details:
As of 2016, Granite Falls has been a Tree City USA for 30 years.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
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 City of Granite falls has a dedicated city staff member who is our City forester and holds a tree inspecting and first detector certification. The City further has an Dutch elm program that has funding set aside to pay to remove diseased elm trees. City forester checks trees for rot and diseases for free. The City also has the lady slippers club and volunteers that each year cleans flower beds and removes invasive weeds.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

2 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: 2017
Implementation details:
The City will be repairing the primary shelter house, improving signage, as well as building new restrooms in Memorial park. The city is installing a new trail in Memorial Park. This trail will create a needed connection to complete a large trail loop within the park. Further, part of this trail will be an off road trail. It will give residents and visitors access to additional open spaces and will allow additional activities such as bird watching, and fishing.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
2 star - Action 2:

Plan and budget for a network of parks, green spaces, water features and trails for areas where new development is planned.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: CJ
Implementation details:
City has master plan to adopt renewed water area in Memorial Park, along with new Trails planned by new camping spots.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
Tom Whitlock, RDC, DNR
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems {BP no.20}

2 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: 2016
Implementation details:
The City of Granite falls has undertaken over the past few years I and I projects that have decreased water into the wastewater treatment plant.

For example:

The Following are I & I projects completed this year:

Minnesota Avenue, Washington Street to Baldwin Street, sanitary sewer was slip lined and all manholes repaired and relined (I & I was present from river and abandoned services).

Alley west of Prentice Street, from 8th Avenue to 7th Avenue. Sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain were all replaced. Cross connection had been indicated during smoke testing.

6th Street, from T.H. 212 to 12th Avenue. Replaced watermain and sanitary sewer and plugged catch basins that were thought to flow into sanitary sewer.

School corrected a MASSIVE cross-connection from their roof drains into the sanitary sewer.
All their roof water was draining into the sanitary sewer system. Since this was completed very recently we want to wait to publish data but so far it appears to have a significant decrease into the system.

2017 will be more I and I projects.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Dave Berryman
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Septic Systems {BP no.21}

1 star - Action 5:

Create a program to finance septic system upgrades.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2022
Implementation details:
The County provides a sceptic replacement program that residents within city limits who still have septic systems are encouraged to use. Recently, for one example, one home owner's system that was recently reviewed by city staff discovered that their septic system connected to the city's wastewater outflow line. The homeowner was informed this needs to be corrected for environmental reasons and was informed about the county's financing program. In the event additional financing is needed, the city would assist. The city in addition, provides loans for private water and sewerline replacement.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Local Air Quality {BP no.23}

3 star - Action 2:

Reduce residential burning of wood and yard waste and eliminate ‘backyard’ trash burning.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: Prior to 2016
Implementation details:
Residents are only allowed to burn wood under certain requirements. In addition, the city does not allow trash burning in yards.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
1 star - Action 5:

Install, assist with and promote publicly available EV charging stations or public fueling stations for alternative fuel vehicles. 

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2022
Implementation details:
The city received a grant from the MPCA to install our first and only Electric Vehicle Charging station for 2022. Once installed, the EV will be promoted to the community as an alternative fuel vehicle.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
MPCA
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

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: 2022
Implementation details:
A new tourism organization was started in Granite Falls called Authentic Excursions. This group brings people from outside the region (special focus on metro area) to visit Granite Falls. They intend to tour businesses, kayak on the river, eating local, and more. As part of this, the city expressed willingness to allow tours of the hydro electric plant. The hydro plant is a green resource.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
1 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: 2017
Implementation details:
The city has every year a support local business campaign event. The event encourages community members to buy local.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

1 star - Action 3:

Promote financing and incentive programs, such as PACE, for clean energy:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Granite Falls offers financial rebates for lighting, Commercial/Industrial rebates along with heating/cooling, and appliance rebates.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Give financial incentive to be more energy efficient.
Descriptive File:
CMPAS, City of Granite Falls
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
3 star - Action 4:

Support a community solar garden or help community members participate in a community solar project by:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
City is partnering with CMPAS/SMMPA for a solar project in Owatanna MN. The power generated will be sold to Granite Falls residents as solar subscriptions for a form of green energy.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011
2 star - Action 5:

Install a public sector/municipally-owned renewable energy technology, such as solar electric (PV), wind, biomass, solar hot water/air, or micro-hydro.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
The City in 2017 has approved to install a Solar Panel in Highland Park that will tap into our electrical system. The City of Granite Falls is a electric utility provider. The City further will be selling solar subscriptions to residents who wish to partake in green energy. They City also has a Hydro-Electric Plant.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Local Food {BP no.27}

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: 2016
Implementation details:
The City of Granite Falls has a yearly Farmers Market to provide food options to residents. City allows the Market to be held in the City's parking lot.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011

Business Synergies and EcoDistricts {BP no.28}

2 star - Action 2:

Document that at least one business/building uses waste heat or water discharge from another business or conducts materials exchange activities with another organization.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
Utilizing farm water run off.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Granite Falls Energy has started using water run off from tiling on an adjacent farm site for cooling at the Ethanol Plant.
Descriptive File:
Fagen Inc. Granite Falls Energy
For more information contact:
Crystal Johnson (City staff) | crystal.johnson@granitefalls.com | 320-56-3011