City Detail

Background Information

City of North Branch
County: Chisago
Population: 10787
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 44
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Ragini Varma
City Staff
651-277-5228
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 3 ( )

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: 31
1 star actions: 14
2 star actions: 11
3 star actions: 5

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

1 star - Action 1:

Enter/update building information into the MN B3 Benchmarking database, and routinely enter monthly usage data for all city-owned buildings/infrastructure that consume energy/water.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city will maintain the monthly energy data on an ongoing basis and 12 months of consecutive data has been entered.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228
2 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: 2021
Implementation details:
Currently 20% of all streelights are LED. Only one of the building uses 100% of LED. As City improves its practices it will continue to enforce LED throughout the City owned buildings.


Building-wide computer and office equipment power management software to go in sleep mode and also staff training to turn off all computer related equipment to be shut down and powered off when not being used.

City is committed to working towards conservation of energy throughout its building.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228
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:
Implementation details:
City has continued implementing cloud based technology information systems for improving efficiency across departments promoting flexibility, mobility, accountability, accessibility, transparency, reliability and sustainability thus incorporating goal for 100% green and paperless in the next five years and reduction in energy usage.

Agenda/Minutes/Video Cloud Based System
Network Infrastructure Cloud Based System
Enterprise Applications Cloud Based System
- Storage/Email/Archive/Retention
- Multi-Functions Copiers
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 star - Action 4:

Coordinate traffic signals and/or optimize signal timing to minimize car idling at intersections yet maintain safe and publicly acceptable vehicle speeds.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City currently collaborates with MnDOT.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shawn Williams (City staff) | shawnw@ci.north-branch.mn.us | (651) 674-8493
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: 2021
Implementation details:
All of City streetlights are 100% LED.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shawn Williams (City staff) | shawnw@ci.north-branch.mn.us | (651) 674-8493

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:
City adopted its 2018 Comprehensive Plan incorporating sustainability and active living.The City is recognized as Shovel Ready and an Opportunity Zone.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
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: 2018
Implementation details:
The comprehensive plan is referenced throughout the zoning code and zoning decisions are required to be in compliance with the comprehensive plan.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

3 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:
Implementation details:
City participated and collaborated with the Minnesota Design Team in 2018. After successful completion of the MN Design Team visit in 2018, the City has continued towards implementing the ideas and strategies generated throughout the MN Design Team visit bringing residents, businesses and community together to be part of the change and development of City of North Branch
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Renae Fry (City staff) | renaef@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5229
1 star - Action 2:

Locate or lease a property for use as a school, city building or other government facility that has at least two of these attributes:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
North Branch Public Area Schools
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
1 star - Action 5:

Have a downtown zoning district that emphasizes small and destination business, entrepreneurial spaces, and allows or requires residential and residential-compatible commercial development.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Current City's zoning code addresses such development. In 2019 City is working towards updating its entire zoning code.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:

Transportation Transportation

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 City of North Branch has over 232 acres of parkland at 19 sites for outdoor recreational enjoyment. In addition residents and visitors can utilize four (4) North Branch Area School District 138 site, a 9-hole North Branch Golf Course, Checkerboard County Park, and the Janet Johnson Wildlife Management Area.

The City also has 30 miles and sidewalks and is home to head of the Sunrise Prairie Trail that connects with the Hardwood Creek Trail in Washington County.


Below is a list of active park sites operated and maintained by the City of North Branch that are available for reservations.

Central Park - 6250 Main St
Playground Equipment, Gazebo, Basketball Court

Harder Park - 39260 Harder Pkwy
Shelter, Playground Equipment, (4) Ball fields, Disc Golf Course

North Branch Oaks Park - 5035 366th St
Playground Equipment

Northwood Park - 39581 Cherokee Ave
Shelter, Playground Equipment, Basketball Court, Tennis Court, Horseshoe Pits

Riverwalk Park - 39181 Forest Blvd
Shelter, Nature Trails

Roger Johnson Memorial Park - 6547 410th Street
Shelter, Playground Equipment, Ballfield, 2 Soccer Fields

Skateboard Park - 38175 Grand Ave

Tower Fields - 6211 Cougar Trl
Playground Equipment, 2 Ballfields

Wildridge Park - 4840 382nd Dr
Shelter, Playground Equipment, Basketball Court, Horseshoe Pits

Williams Park - 6400 379th St
Community Gardens
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226
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: 2011
Implementation details:
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program improves the City's streets with pedestrian and bicycle improvements for students and children. The SRTS Program's resources and projects are allocated in an equitable manner. To encourage students to walk or bicycle to/from school, the SRTS program seeks to improve the comfort and safety of the City's pedestrian and bicycle network near schools, parks, libraries, and other neighborhood destinations.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226
1 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:
Implementation details:
Public Transit - Heartland Express

Responsibilities:

The Heartland Express is responsible for providing clean, on-time, reliable, safe, and efficient service. The Heartland Express is not responsible for items left on its vehicles. We are responsible for enforcing this service policy.

The Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express abides by all applicable federal, state and local regulations, and maintains an alcohol and drug-free workplace.

For safety reasons persons using a 3-wheel electric cart or (lark type chairs) will be requested to transfer to a bus seat. All wheelchairs have to fit on the bus lift properly.

The Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express reserves the right to refuse service to anyone who violates any of the standards.

Service:

The Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express is a public transportation service Opens a New Window. , which operates within the county borders. Both Chisago and Isanti counties are committed to providing safe, cost-effective transit service to anyone in either county who requests it. All vehicles are handicapped accessible.

We provide curb-to-curb service. Most passengers can request and be provided same day service, but reservations should be made by noon the working day before. The only limitations are to time constraints in scheduling and/or buses on route at any given time.

Civil Rights:

Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express operates its programs without regard to race, color, and national origin in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Any person who believes he or she has been aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice under Title VI may file a complaint with Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express by reviewing and completing the Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express Title VI Complaint Procedure & Form Opens a New Window. .
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226
3 star - Action 5:

Implement workplace multi-modal transportation best management practices - including telework/flexwork - in city government, businesses or at a local health care provider.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2021
Implementation details:
North Branch Meets Demand for High-Speed Internet. Governor Walz along with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove and others came to North Branch to announce that North Branch was among 23 cities and counties to be recognized as a Telecommuter Forward! Community.

City is moving towards cloud based systems to make telework possible. This provides for better efficiency and flexibility for employees. Throughout the pandemic, eligible city employees were able to work remotely and did not affect the operations of the City and continued to serve its residents and was open to public.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Renae Fry (City staff) | renaef@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5229

Efficient City Fleets {BP no.13}

1 star - Action 3:

Phase-in operational changes, equipment changes including electric vehicles, and no-idling practices for city or local transit fleets.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2021
Implementation details:
City is purchasing its first EV vehicle Ford 150 Lightening and will work on implementing a plan moving forward.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

1 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: 2020
Implementation details:
City is moving towards 30% all of our standard printer paper is to be 30% recycled content whenever fiscally reasonable. All of our printer paper in the past has come from SFI certified sourcing and will continue to be purchased as such in the instances where a 30% recycled content paper is not fiscally responsible.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228
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: 2019
Implementation details:
100% paperless Agenda/Minutes/Video for all City Meetings through cloud based technology infrastructure implementation.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 star - Action 5:

Adopt a tree preservation or native landscaping ordinance.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City has an existing Tree ordinance.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

1 star - Action 5:

Adopt and implement guidelines or design standards/incentives for at least one of the following stormwater infiltration/reuse practices:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City currently has the following standards in place:

- Street & Utility Design Standards
- Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program
- Engineering Design Standard for Stormwater Management
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shawn Williams (City staff) | shawnw@ci.north-branch.mn.us | (651) 674-8493
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: 2021
Implementation details:
City uses road salt in winter as a de-icing chemical and calcium chloride on gravel roads as gravel stabilizer preventing dust.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Shawn Williams (City staff) | shawnw@ci.north-branch.mn.us | (651) 674-8493

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:
Year action initially completed: 2021
Implementation details:
The City of North Branch has over 299 acres of parkland at 23 sites for outdoor recreational enjoyment. In addition residents and visitors can utilize four (4) North Branch Area School District 138 sites, a 9-hole North Branch Golf Course, Checkerboard County Park, and the Janet Johnson Wildlife Management Area.

The City also has 30 miles and sidewalks and is home to head of the Sunrise Prairie Trail that connects with the Hardwood Creek Trail in Washington County.

The Parks Trails and Open Spaces Commission continuously advises and work with City on all of parks improvements.

Meadows North Park is a new 5 acre park site located at 5333 399th St, near the southwest corner of 400th St and Flink Ave. The development of this park provides for the only developed park in the northwest portion of the city and the first newly developed city park in over the past 10 years!

Construction of the park began in 2021 with the walking paths, parking lot, basketball court surfacing and parking lot being completed. This spring the playground equipment, site amenities and landscaping will be completed. The City will be looking for volunteers to assist with a community build on the installation of the playground equipment and will be reaching out via the city’s website and Facebook pages in late April/early May 2022 with plans of a park grand opening to take place summer 2022!
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226
2 star - Action 5:

Create park/city land management standards/practices that maximize at least one of the following:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
The City of North Branch has adopted practices to make our city a place where pollinators can thrive. In May 2017, City Council passed a pollinator resolution. This commits the City to developing even stronger policies and practices to help protect pollinators.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226
2 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: 2021
Implementation details:
City works in collaboration with community members/associations/business such as North Branch Area Athletics, North Banch Area Community Education, Williams Parks Community Garden, Monarch Pollinators, Minnesota Design Team and others in providing hands on land restoration and stewarship projects.

The City of North Branch has adopted practices to make our city a place where pollinators can thrive. In May 2017, City Council passed a pollinator resolution. This commits the City to developing even stronger policies and practices to help protect pollinators.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems {BP no.20}

2 star - Action 1:

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

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
MPCA recognizes North Branch wastewater facilities for operational excellence. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is recognizing 334 Minnesota wastewater treatment facilities for maintaining outstanding permit compliance from October 2017 through September 2018.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

2 star - Action 1:

Inclusive and Coordinated Decision-Making: Use a city commission or committee to lead, coordinate, report to and engage community members on the identification and equitable implementation of sustainability best practices.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
City;s Greenstep membership is made up of Mayor, two councilmembers and the City's GreenStep Coordinator to facilitatem coordinate and implement GreenSteo best practices.

St. Croix River Education District presented Innovation in Education to the North Branch City Council 2021
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228
1 star - Action 4:

Public Education for Action: Conduct or support a broad sustainability education and action campaign, building on existing city & community relationships, networks & events involving:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Social media tool such as facebook will be used to conduct & support a broad sustainability education and action campaign.

Currently City has used social media facebook to promote annual recycling and compost and others. This will be futher expanded to other sustainability issues.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

1 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:
City collaborate and support the efforts of The North Branch Beautification Association,

The Beautification Association, through its members, volunteers and other community organizations and businesses share the common purpose of beautifying as well as preserving the physical surroundings of North Branch. The value of beautification is clearly recognized as a major factor in attracting new residents, elevating tourism and sustaining the economy. Enhancing the "curb appeal" in our area by strategic plantings, banners, hanging baskets, memorial benches & trees as well as many other projects and enhancements will benefit us all!
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226
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:
Implementation details:
Council supports buy local campaign and encourges residents to buy local. With the help of Minnesota Design Team collaboration this will be developed further.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ragini Varma (City staff) | raginiv@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5228

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

3 star - Action 6:

Report installed private sector-owned renewable energy/energy efficient generation capacity with at least one of the following attributes:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The 100 MW (AC) North Star Solar Project is located in Chisago County, Minnesota – approximately four miles southeast of North Branch, MN. The project connects to the grid at the Chisago Substation, a point of significant transmission infrastructure and strong electrical ties to Xcel Energy load. The North Star Solar Project provides Xcel Energy with a cost-effective and efficient solution to meeting their 1.5 percent solar energy requirement in Minnesota. The Project was approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The North Star Solar Project is the largest solar energy facility in the Midwest, producing enough energy to power approximately 20,000 homes.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:

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:
Implementation details:
City actively supports a local farmer's market and community garden within the city limits.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nathan Sondrol (City staff) | nathans@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5226

Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience {BP no.29}

2 star - Action 1:

Prepare to maintain public health and safety during extreme weather and climate-change-related events, while also taking a preventive approach to reduce risk for community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
City uses service such as CodeRED and social media such as facebook to inform, alert and educate community on all safety concerns.

CodeRED is a free community notification system that keeps citizen's informed of emergency notifications, general community notifications, and severe weather warnings. If you want to sign up to receive free texts alerts.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Chief Dan Meyer (City staff) | danm@ci.north-branch.mn.us | 651-277-5237