City Detail

Background Information

City of Vadnais Heights
County: Ramsey
Population: 12912
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 33
Participating township, county, school: Vadnais Heights Green Team

GreenStep Coordinator

Erin Spry
City Staff
651-204-6056
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 1 ( )

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: 12
1 star actions: 4
2 star actions: 4
3 star actions: 3

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

Pending - 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: 2024
Implementation details:
B3 benchmarking data has been reported for all occupied City buildings. Data has been input for natural gas and electrical consumption from 11/2022 to present time. City staff will continue to input data monthly.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Erin Spry (City Staff) | erin.spry@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6056
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: 2018
Implementation details:
The City has been incrementally converting all city facility lighting to LED as funds are available since 2018. Recently, city leadership has allocated $50,000 in its budget every year from 2024 – 2028 for LED light replacement to complete the process.
Occupancy sensors have been installed throughout the North Service Center building. City staff and Voss Energy have collaborated with Xcel Energy and Connexus to secure energy rebates for multiple efficiency projects.
All large City buildings operate on heating schedules. Boilers and HVAC systems within City Hall and North Service Center are checked on a weekly basis and maintained regularly.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The City has received $7379.51 in energy rebates through this effort.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jim Hamann (City Staff) | jim.hamann@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6052

Efficient Existing Private Buildings {BP no.2}

1 star - Action 5:

Conserve/protect drinking/groundwater resources by creating a water-wise landscaping ordinance/guidance, WaterSense purchasing program, or guidance on rainwater harvesting and home water softener use.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2024
Implementation details:
The City of Vadnais Heights adopted a sprinkling policy that prohibits watering between 12:00 to 6:00 pm from June 1 to September 15 in 2008.

The City website has a Water Conservation tips page where residents can learn about ways to conserve water via changes to turf grass maintenance habits, transitioning turf grass to native drought-resistant plants, improving vegetable garden drought resilience, and using rain barrels. Residents are provided with links to financial resources for rain barrels and native plant landscaping on this page and on the natural landscapes page.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Erin Spry (City Staff) | erin.spry@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6056

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: 2019
Implementation details:
In 2019 City Council adopted the Vadnais Heights Comprehensive Plan, describing the vision and strategy for Vadnais Heights through 2040. The Plan includes discussion of future goals and policies to support sustainable land use, increased bicycle and pedestrian transportation opportunities, and sustainable practices for groundwater use.
The Parks and Trails Chapter examines the City's pedestrian and bicycle trails and includes goals to expand and improve trail facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists within the City. The Plan also commits to collaboration with Ramsey County and the Connected Ramsey Communities Network to expand regional trail access and connectivity.
The Land Use Chapter identifies natural resource considerations including climate change impacts to the local ecosystem, threatened and special concern species, and climate change impacts to groundwater resources. The Plan includes a policy to protect and preserve Vadnais Heights' environmental resources, and a policy to maintain and improve water quality and wetlands within the City.
A series of public meetings and open houses were held between May 2017 and December 2018 to review the various elements addressed within the Comprehensive Plan. An interactive page on the City’s website was developed to provide information and updates on the planning process. Stakeholders could also respond to a survey containing community opinion questions and map areas of concern.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Nolan Wall (City Staff) | nolan.wall@cityvadnaisheights.com | 651-204-6027
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: 2019
Implementation details:
The Comprehensive Plan is referenced in the Zoning, Planning, and Development Code as a means to protect public health, safety, and general welfare of its residents:

"Section 38-2: Intent and Purpose: The intent of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of the city and its people through the establishment of minimum regulations governing development and use... Such regulations are established to protect such use areas; to promote orderly development and redevelopment; to provide adequate light, air and convenience of access to property; to prevent congestion in the public right-of-way; to prevent overcrowding of land and undue concentration of structures by regulating land, buildings, yards and density of population; to provide for compatibility of different land uses; to provide for administration of this chapter; to provide for amendments; to prescribe penalties for violation of such regulations; and to define powers and duties of the city staff, the planning commission, and the city council in relation to this chapter"

"Section 38-4: Zoning (4): Relation to the Comprehensive Plan
It is the policy of the city that the enforcement, amendment, and administration of this chapter be accomplished with due consideration of the recommendations contained in the city comprehensive plan, as developed and amended from time to time by the planning commission and city council"


The Comprehensive Plan is also referenced throughout the Zoning, Planning, and Development chapter of City Code, most often in the "intent and purpose" subdivision:

"Sec. 38-447. - Intent and purpose.
The city center district is intended to help implement the goals and policies of the city comprehensive plan and the city center plan, including subsequent updates to both plans. District regulations are designed to provide flexibility for development that ensure the ability to require that development plans meet the spirit of the city center plan and city comprehensive plan"

The Planned Unit Development (PUD) and conditional use sections of City Code requires land use and site plans to meet the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan. This requirement is also referenced in Planned Use Development Applications.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nolan Wall (City Staff) | nolan.wall@cityvadnaisheights.com | 651-204-6027

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

2 star - Action 1:

Eliminate barriers and actively encourage 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: 2019
Implementation details:
The City of Vadnais Heights' Zoning Code/Comprehensive Plan permits single family and two-family dwellings at a density of 5-9 dwellings per acre in the R2 zoning district, and detached and attached multifamily housing at up to 22 units per acre in the R3 district. These areas are located near transportation corridors and commercial districts.

Several Planned Use Development districts/mixed use districts allow a maximum of 30 units per acre.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Since publication of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan the City has approved two high-density housing developments within PUD/R3 districts, one of which is located directly on a public transit route:
Reserve at Sono
Ansel Residences
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nolan Wall (City Staff) | nolan.wall@cityvadnaisheights.com | 651-204-6027

Transportation Transportation

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

2 star - Action 3:

Prominently promote mobility options: public transit; paratransit/Dial-A-Ride; cab services; rental cars; bike lanes; trails; airports.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
The City of Vadnais Heights’ Transportation web page contains information and links to Metro Transit bus routes, a Metro Transit park-and-ride, and Transit Link dial-a-ride services. Additional links to Metro Mobility and Newtracks are provided for residents who cannot use regular fixed-route buses due to disability, age, or health conditions.
Carpooling and bicycle trip planning web links, and printable parks and trails map are provided as well.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jessie Currier (City Staff) | jessica.currier@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6012

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

3 star - Action 5:

Set minimum sustainability standards to reduce the impact of your concrete use, asphalt, roadbed aggregate, or other construction materials.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
Road construction manuals refer to MnDOT Specification 2360 on the use of recycled asphalt and shingles in mix designs, allowing use of 30% RAP by weight.
All new pavements contain a percentage of RAP.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nick Ousky (City Staff) | nick.ousky@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6095

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

3 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: 2021
Implementation details:
The City of Vadnais Heights adopted an Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan in August of 2021. City staff are trained to identify trees infested with EAB.

The City is currently working to remove all EAB damaged trees from City parks and rights-of-way. The City plans to replace all removed trees using 20-10-5 biodiversity guidelines, meaning that future tree populations will be made up of no more than 20% of a single family, 10% of a single genus, and 5% of a single species.

All ash trees on City property and rights-of-way were inventoried in 2022; a GIS database is maintained on the status of all known diseased trees.

Residents are provided with information on recognizing EAB infested trees and are encouraged to contact arborists to determine treatment or removal options.

Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Kaylin Clement (City Staff) | kaylin.clement@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6013

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

1 star - Action 6:

Improve smart-salting by reducing chloride use in winter maintenance and dust suppressants to prevent permanent surfacewater and groundwater pollution.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2023
Implementation details:
The City and the Vadnais Lake Area Watershed Management Organization (VLAWMO) hosted a smart salting workshop in January of 2023. All primary winter maintenance staff are certified Smart Salters Level 1; some staff are certified on roads while others are certified on parking lots & sidewalks.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Reduced use of salt as part of City operations.
Descriptive File:
Vadnais Lake Area Watershed Management Organization (VLAWMO)
For more information contact:
Ken LaCasse (City Staff) | ken.lacasse@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6053

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems {BP no.20}

3 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: 2017
Implementation details:
City activities:
The City of Vadnais Heights has an active Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) program that relines an average of 5181 feet of sanitary sewer every year. The City is currently participating in the MCES I&I grant program to line or replace structures in tandem with street construction projects 2024-2025 and has participated in past programs, receiving over $1 million in funding to reline its sanitary sewer system.
Residential sanitary lines:
Rebates on sanitary sewer televising inspections are offered to residents as part of street improvement projects.
Ordinances:
The City prohibits the discharge of stormwater, surface water, roof water, or groundwater into sanitary sewers via City Code Sec. 36-373.


Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Nick Ousky (City Staff) | nick.ousky@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6095
2 star - Action 7:

Create a demand-side pricing program to reduce demands on water and wastewater systems.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
Implementation details:
The City has adopted a conservation-based water rate structure. Users are charged more per 1,000 gallons of water supplied if meeting higher thresholds of use. All irrigation meters are charged the highest rate.
Sewer rates are determined by water use; users are charged per 1,000 gallons of drinking water.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Reduction in irrigation water use, increased interest in water conservation, and reduction in overall water use.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jim Hauth (City Staff) | jim.hauth@cityvadnaisheights.com | (651) 204 6050