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    City of Columbia Heights  


Background Information

County:   Anoka
Population:   20,000
GreenStep City category:   A

Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.):   150

Participating township, county, school:


GreenStep City resolution:   Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date:   STEP 2 (06/23/2015)

GreenStep Coordinator

Jesse Davies
City staff
Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us
763-706-3706

City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
http://www.ci.columbia-heights.mn.us/

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 Files below summarize completed city actions in a short Word file. Step 4 recognition is awarded each June to cities who report a minimum number of optional (and a few high-priority/core) metrics for the previous calendar year. These metrics - see guidance documents for them at http://www.betterenergy.org/step4 - aim to show the aggregate, quantitative results of taking multiple GreenStep actions. Step 5 cities show improvement beyond minimum thresholds in the Step 4 metrics. See yearly data in the Metrics Files below.

Assessment Files
2017 - click to view assessment

 


Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars. Mouse over a star for its definition.
Total completed actions: 16     1-star actions: 8     2-star actions: 7     3-star actions: 1    







Buildings and Lighting   Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings
{ BP no. 1 }

Complete the Building Editor for each city-owned building; identify the person responsible for routinely entering data; enter current (at least once/90 days), consecutive monthly energy use data ongoing; also best to enter 12 consecutive months of historical energy use data.
Complete 1 Star criterion and enter 24 consecutive months of historical data; routinely validate newly entered data by looking at patterns/trends and inconsistencies; correct inaccurate entries and identify potential opportunities for energy savings.
Complete 1 and 2 Star criteria, routinely ID energy-related operations and maintenance issues and poorer performing buildings for follow-up action; routinely enter current and consecutive (monthly or quarterly as available) water use data ongoing.
Action 1: Enter building information into the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking database and routinely enter monthly energy, water use data for all city-owned buildings.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Implement changes in one poorer-performing building and summarize the actions taken: updating temperature, ventilation and lighting schedules and setbacks; installing building-wide computer and office equipment power management software; assigning responsibility for turning off manual lights and other shared equipment; assuring that routine HVAC maintenance schedules are thorough and implemented at appropriate intervals; revising janitorial schedules to day-time hours; adjusting janitorial responsibilities to include regular cleaning of sensors, lamps and HVAC vents; installing lower-flow faucet aerators, dish sprayers, and showerheads to reduce hot water use.
Complete 1 Star criterion for two buildings. Post the Print Screen of the Baseline tab for one of the buildings with the Energy gauge showing at least a 5% decrease in energy use compared to the baseline period [12 months immediately prior to implementing changes]. Continue fine-tuning operations and maintenance procedures and monitoring energy usage to identify opportunities for additional savings.
Complete 1 and 2 Star criteria for two buildings. Use B3 to report at least a 10% decrease in energy use compared to the baseline period.
Action 2: Make no/low cost indoor lighting and operational changes in city-owned/school buildings to reduce energy costs.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Complete retrocommissioning and/or retrofitting work on one building. Summarize the actions taken. Update the B3 Building Editor as needed and change the Baseline Time Period to report energy/cost savings.
Complete retrocommissioning and/or retrofitting work financed by an energy performance contract, utility rebate or other means on two or more buildings. Post a print screen of B3 data to report energy/cost reductions.
Complete 1 and 2 Star criteria. In addition, use GESP or implement an internal program or use an external program/vendor that institutionalizes, and provides funding / incentives for, ongoing reductions in energy use by city-owned buildings (e.g. internal loan fund, shared savings with employees, capital budgeting based on energy savings, performance incentives and accountability, etc.).
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.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Land Use   Land Use

Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans
{ BP no. 6 }

Adopt a comp plan/amended comp plan that is less than ten years old or adopt a land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity less than 15 years ago, or Category B & C cities may adopt a city vision that looks at least 20 years into the future.
Include in your plan a sustainability section/chapter, an active living/placemaking/bike-ped section, or integrate sustainability goals and strategies into all chapters of your comprehensive plan, or articulate land development principles for creating a complete, compact and connected community. Report climate protection or energy independence goals and objectives under action 6.5
Adopt a development goal that new/infill projects generate enough tax revenue to pay for the related public infrastructure maintenance/replacement over multiple life cycles; reference a capital improvement plan that catalogues public system maintenance obligations by date and cost; create 'green zones' that focus environmental improvements in under-served areas of the city; adopt the Precautionary Principle.
Action 1: Adopt a comprehensive plan or (for Category B & C cities) adopt a land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Document where in the zoning code or development regulation the comprehensive plan is referenced as a foundational document or that the purpose of the code is to implement the comprehensive plan.
Comprehensive plan referenced in all land use and development ordinances and regulations in addition to zoning code ordinances; zoning decisions are required to reference/be in compliance with the comp plan.
Conduct an audit of ordinances; individual ordinances or ordinance sections should be introduced with a "Purposes" section that includes language such as the following: "The XXX regulations specifically implement the following goals from the Comprehensive Plan:"
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.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Resilient City Growth
{ BP no. 7 }

Use a process/ordinance (planned unit development or other) that allows increased density and approves development on substandard lots through flexible frontage and lot sizes; create a density bonus in one residential or commercial zoning district; allow accessory dwelling units in one single-family zoning district or overlay area.
Have a residential cluster development ordinance/process; have a density bonus in multiple areas in the city; bonus for underground parking or proximity to transit or multifamily playground space; allow accessory dwelling units and/or co-housing developments in multiple single-family districts; allow tiny houses (~400 sq. ft.) on small lots or small (~350 sq. ft.) apartments.
Create an additional density bonus linked to a transfer of development rights program that protects agricultural or natural resource land on the fringe of the urban area. Tie ADUs explicity into a plan for increasing affordable housing and/or reducing homelessness. Allow rooming or boarding houses; uncap the number of roommates who may share a dwelling unit.
Action 2: Achieve higher density housing through at least two of the following strategies:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Incorporate a flexible lot size/frontage requirement for infill development.

b. Use density and floor area ratio (FAR) bonuses in selected residential zoning districts.

c. Clustered residential development; tie a regulatory standard to comprehensive plan language defining compact city expansion zones that limit low-density development.

d. Allowing accessory dwelling units, senior housing, co-housing or tiny houses / apartments by right in selected zoning districts.


Efficient Highway- and Auto-Oriented Development
{ BP no. 9 }

Work with community members in establishing design goals or designs standards, publish the standards, and ensure that the standards are provided to everyone proposing development in the corridor/cluster; plan for at least 1 EV charging station.
Adopt an overlay district; in the public process to set design standards, use visual preference tools (such as a door-to-door iPad-enabled survey) to develop both goals and designs; zone residential beyond 300 meters of a corridor with annualized average daily traffic greater than 10,000 vehicles.
Require or provide incentives (design assistance, permit fee reductions, etc) for new development and redevelopment to adhere to the goals and designs.
Action 1: Establish design goals for at least one highway/auto-oriented corridor/cluster.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Transportation   Transportation

Living Streets
{ BP no. 11 }

Measures such as streetscaping, bump-outs, raised cross walks, intersection markings, medians and narrower lane widths. Report temporary or permanent parklet installations under action 14.1
Measures such as roundabouts, and road diets where 3 lanes replace 4 lanes of a road with under 20,000 average annual daily traffic counts; adopt a traffic calming policy.
Measures from street reclaiming, naked streets, shared space, woonerfs, and Paint the Pavement approaches; diverging diamond interchange, J-turn lane, reverse diagonal parking; a multi-modal Level of Service metric developed and applied to road projects; conversion of underused/redundant roads to gravel roads, stormwater management, energy generation, etc.
Action 6: Implement traffic calming policy/measures, including road diets, roundabouts, shared space and depaving, in at least one street redevelopment project.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Environmental Management   Environmental Management

Urban Forests and Soils
{ BP no. 16 }

Certified for current year.
Certified for 30 or more years, or recent recipient of a Growth award.
Certified for at least 10 years with an annual tree budget (for maintenance, planting, replacements, removals) of at least $8 per resident (4X the Tree City requirement) or have calculated and publicized the financial and other benefits of trees to your city.
Action 1: Certify as a Tree City USA.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


For smaller cities: at least one volunteer is a Minnesota Certified Tree Inspector or a Minnesota Forest Pest First Detector.
City has written and begun implementing a community emerald ash borer preparedness plan/climate change adaptation plan for urban forests including resilient tree species; city tree canopy goal aims for a "5-10-15" rule-of-thumb.
At least one city staff member is a Certified Forester, a landscape horticulture professional, or holds Tree Inspector and First Detector certification; city staff provide free assistance to residents/businesses, or support volunteer forestry efforts.
Action 6: Build community capacity to protect existing trees by one or more of:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Having trained tree specialists.

c. Adopting an EAB/forest management plan or climate adaptation plan for the urban forest.

b. Supporting volunteer forestry efforts.


Stormwater Management
{ BP no. 17 }

pending pending Star rating not yet assigned to city Action 6: Reduce de-icing salt use to prevent permanent surfacewater and groundwater pollution.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Surface Water
{ BP no. 19 }

Have a shoreland ordinance approved by the DNR or one consistent with state-wide shoreland standards (MR 6120.2500-06120.3900).
Adopt the Alternative Shoreland Standards or similar alternatives reviewed and consistent with recommendations of the DNR Area hydrologist that exceed the minimum standards of the DNR shoreland rules.
Document 60-75% forested shoreland; achieve 2 Star rating and include one or both of: (1) a menu of mitigation measures, one or more of which to be attached to shoreland variances; (2) provisions for restoration of shore impact area and vegetative buffer with permanent protection for all new shoreland development.
Action 4: Adopt a shoreland ordinance for all river and lake shoreland areas.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems
{ BP no. 20 }

Calculate your waste water plant's benchmark by dividing average daily energy use by typical flow in MGD (millions of gallons per day); report energy use for drinking water produced and delivered in kWh per 1,000 gallons (typically between 0.25 to 3.5 kWh). Report water system losses under action 20.3; report protection efforts that sustain facility function during extreme weather under action 29.7
Use B3, Portfolio Manager or the like to report several years of historic data; note how your water and waste water facilities compare to similar plants.
Report that the Sewer, and Drinking Water, Enterprise funds (using data from https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/maps ) have had 5+ years Positive Net Income; rank in the best 25% of Upper Midwest peer plants.
Action 1: Compare the energy use and financial performance of your facilities with other peer plants using standardized, free tools.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Create a motor replacement plan for key motors, to at least maintain efficient operation and preferably improve it; utilize utility conservation improvement program for motors.
Upgrade SCADA systems to use existing flow and amperage or kilowatt measurements as a real-time efficiency measure for key equipment.
Review energy use for proposed plant upgrades at current volumes of water treated as well as at design capacity to verify the plant will run efficiently over the range of expected flow rates.
Action 2: Plan and budget for motor maintenance and upgrades so as to assure the most energy efficient, durable and appropriate equipment is available when upgrades or break downs occur.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Create a program backed by ordinance for inspecting household/business gutters, foundation drains, sump pump connections, drain tile, lateral service lines, and/or inspections of city-owned sewer lines; report types of water system preventive maintenance. Report an adopted wellhead protection plan under action 6.3
Make sewer inspections mandatory at the time of property transfers, street reconstructions; require repairs or provide incentives such as 50% reimbursement to property owners to make repairs or enact utility bill surcharges for owners who are non-compliant with I&I standards; report water system leak detection and water meter calibration, replacement and automation.
Report outcomes from I&I and water loss programs, such as miles clay pipes relined, # of disconnects, % clearwater reduction, GPD removed, water supply leaks (unaccounted/non-revenue water loss; should be under 5%), money saved at the wastewater treatment plant, capital costs avoided by being able to defer capacity additions.
Action 3: Establish an on-going budget and program for decreasing inflow and infiltration into sewer lines and losses in drinking water systems.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Resilient Economic & Community Development   Resilient Economic & Community Development

Green Business Development
{ BP no. 25 }

Document steps beyond regulatory requirements to remediate a brownfield, using MPCA/other best practices.
Document how the redeveloped parcel has created jobs; is redeveloped as a mixed-use site.
Document the "green" nature of businesses locating on the redeveloped parcel; add renewable energy generation capacity on a brownfield; finalist/winner of MN Brownfield's Rescape award. Note if a land bank was used for site acquisition/parcel assembly and redevelopment.
Action 5: Lower the environmental and health risk footprint of a brownfield remediation/redevelopment project.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Local Food
{ BP no. 27 }

Remove restrictions to food gardening/raising of chickens/bees in residential areas. Report beehives on city property under action 18.5
Proactively zone for & allow by right food gardening/raising of chickens/bees; report one or more developments that have dedicated, permanent and managed growing space, such as resident garden space, and/or related facilities (such as greenhouses). Report under GreenStep action 3.5 adopted city guidelines that prevent the restriction of food production through homeowner (HOA) agreements (CC&Rs).
Work with a rental building owner to establish a community garden, farmer's market or CSA/food buying club drop-point within 1/2 mile; establish tax incentives to use vacant lots for urban agriculture.
Action 2: Facilitate creation of home/community gardens, chicken & bee keeping, and incorporation of food growing areas/access in multifamily residential developments.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]