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    City of Elk River  


Background Information

County:   Sherburne
Population:   23,231
GreenStep City category:   A

Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.):   114

Participating township, county, school:
City of Elk River Elk River Municipal Utilities

GreenStep City resolution:   Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date:   STEP 5 (06/15/2017)

GreenStep Coordinator

Amanda Bednar
City staff
ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov
763-635-1068

City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
http://www.elkrivermn.gov/index.aspx?NID=759

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

Metrics Files
2017 - click to view Metrics
2016 - click to view Metrics


Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars. Mouse over a star for its definition.
Total completed actions: 61     1-star actions: 46     2-star actions: 13     3-star actions: 2    







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 ]  


Action 4: Implement information technology efforts and city employee engagement to reduce plug loads and building energy use.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Report one city building or school, or county/other government building, and which framework was used. Report park buildings under best practice action 18.7; report policies that require green building certification under action 3.1
Complete 1 Star criteria for two buildings, and list at what level the buildings are certified. Report energy use reduction in remodels.
Show that a new or remodeled building has met or been certified at gold-equivalent or better; report at least one building that meets the SB 2030 energy standard.
Action 5: Document that the new construction or major remodeling of a public building has met the SB 2030 energy standard or has met or qualified under a green building or energy framework.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Geothermal systems should meet a minimum coefficient of performance of 3.3 for closed loop systems.
Use a waste heat stream to heat one or more buildings; create a district energy system/microgrid for several buildings (using waste wood, geothermal energy, gas turbine, fuel cell); harvest rainwater.
Integrate solar thermal or other renewable production into a combined heat & power system; use the constant temperature of drinking water pipes in a geothermal system.
Action 7: Install for one or more city-owned/school buildings one of the following efficiency measures:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] b. A district energy/microgrid system.

a. A ground-source, closed loop geothermal system.

c. A rainwater harvesting system for building water use.


Efficient Existing Private Buildings
{ BP no. 2 }

Program activities include but are not limited to: information/education efforts via newsletters and the like; work with the local utility, local Community Action Program or others; program participation reports. Report a rebate program to promote purchases of WaterSense-rated appliances under action 2.5; report work with businesses under action 25.2; report broad sustainability campaigns that go beyond energy efficiency under action 24.4
One or more of: provide more in-depth energy use reports; explicitly focus on improved indoor air quality; report on number of households participating (e.g. took advantage of rebates, attended workshops, received home energy audit) and dollars or BTUs or therms saved; resident participation in the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation.
Create a program and report on number of households participating (e.g. took advantage of rebates, attended workshops, received home energy audit) and dollars or BTUs or therms saved.
Action 1: Create or participate in a marketing/outreach program to promote/achieve residential energy/water use reduction and energy efficiency.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Summarize watering ordinance; provide education/information around lawn watering and home water conservation and rain barrels. Report conservation rate structures and dynamic user feedback under action 20.7, rain gutter disconnects from sewers under action 20.3; education about home water softeners under 20.4
Report residential water use under 75 gal/capita/day; modify and adopt a model landscaping ordinance that encourages low water-use landscaping; assist owners of automatic or underground irrigation systems to install the state-required rain/moisture sensors; report water use reductions; become a WaterSense Partner.
Create and report on a rebate or feebate program to promote purchases of WaterSense- and/or Energy Star-rated appliances; review building water conservation strategies during development reviews; as code allows facilitate household/building site rainwater harvesting/reuse; prohibit city water from supplying lawn irrigation systems.
Action 5: Conserve/protect drinking/groundwater resources by creating a watering ordinance, water-wise landscaping ordinance/guidance, WaterSense purchasing program, or guidance on rainwater harvesting and home water softener use.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals
{ BP no. 4 }

Install at least one LED/solar-powered flashing sign, for example, warning flashers and wayfinding/signage lighting.
Install PV-powered or LED lighting as a pilot in a street, parking lot or park project. Examples include seasonally used park lighting (ice rinks, lighting in flood-prone areas, etc.).
Install routinely, as matter of policy, LED or solar powered lighting in street, parking lot or park projects.
Action 5: Use LED/solar-powered lighting for a flashing sign or in a street, parking lot or park project.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Replace 1/3 of city's existing traffic signals.
Replace 2/3 of city's existing traffic signals; replace half and document savings.
Replace 100% of city's existing traffic signals.
Action 8: Replace the city's existing traffic signals with LEDs.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Building Redevelopment
{ BP no. 5 }

For cities with traditional downtown areas, describe city involvement in Minnesota Main Street revitalization and preservation (for example, attend trainings) or describe the participation of business assocations that join Minnesota Main Street as Associate Members.
Main street assistance explicitly addresses green building practices including appropriate rehab of existing buildings, OR city becomes an Associate Member of Minnesota Main Street.
City is a Designated Main Street community of MN Main Street.
Action 2: Implement the Minnesota Main Street model for commercial revitalization.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Land Use   Land Use

Comprehensive Plans
{ BP no. 6 }

Adopt a 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.
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 }

Have at least one single-family zoning district or selected area that requires or allows 7-unit/acre (or greater).
A mixed- or single-use zoning district that sets a minimum density for single family at 7 dwelling units/acre and minimum gross density for multi-family at 15 DUA (a level that supports 1 bus/15 min.). Multi-family housing includes attached housing, apartments and condos.
A minimum residential gross density of 20 units/acre when adjacent to a permanent transit node or pedestrian-oriented commercial retail district.
Action 1: Limit barriers to higher density housing by including in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Neighborhood single-family density at 7 units/acre or greater.

b. Multi-family housing at a gross density of at least 15 units/acre adjacent to a commercial zoning district or transit node.


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 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: Encourage 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. Tie a regulatory standard to comprehensive plan language defining compact city expansion zones that limit low-density development.

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


Document the existence of a district meeting the FAR standard and/or zero-lot line.
Achieve 1 Star rating AND locate the higher intensity district near higher density housing, assuming the allowed commercial land uses are compatible.
The number of retail entrances per 330 feet in a downtown retail district ranges between 8 and 13; employment density of 25+ jobs/acre in compact areas; a maximum block perimeter of 2000' in a downtown zoning district.
Action 3: Encourage a higher intensity of commercial land uses through at least one of the following strategies:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Include in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map a commercial district with reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks, or a FAR minimum of 1.

b. Set targets for the minimum number of employees/acre in different commercial zones.


Mixed Uses
{ BP no. 8 }

Explain which attributes are met.
Parking spaces are significantly below the parking standard due to bike/ped/transit access, shared parking, municipal lot.
A public school is located along a public transit line and provides incentives (such as discounted bus passes) for students to use the line.
Action 2: Locate or lease a school, city building or other government facility that has at least two of these attributes:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Adjacent to an existing employment or residential center.

b. Designed to facilitate and encourage access by walking and biking.

c. Accessible by regular transit service.


Ordinance allows mixed uses.
Ordinance requires residential-only PUDs to be adjacent to commercial development or to be served by frequent transit.
Ordinance requires a mix of uses.
Action 3: Modify a planned unit development ordinance to emphasize mixed use development or to limit residential PUDs to areas adjacent to commercial development.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Describe to what degree the district used the Minnesota Model Ordinances for Sustainable Development.
Existence of horizontal mixed use; a downtown overlay district; light industrial uses.
Allow mixed use of office, retail, educational, civic, and residential units all located within the same building.
Action 5: Have a downtown zoning district that allows residential and compatible commercial development.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Two or more uses in multi-story buildings favored in the comp plan with overall goals or design guidelines.
Adopt incentives (density bonus, development assistance) for vertical mixed use development such as housing above commercial, shared parking in the downtown core.
An incentive and/or requirement for inclusionary (affordable) housing in at least one development; live/work vertical units allowed by right.
Action 7: Create incentives for vertical mixed-use development in appropriate locations (downtown, commercial districts near colleges or universities, historic commercial districts).     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


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

Adopt zoning language that defines auto-oriented land uses, limits where they are allowed, and encourages commercial development that can rely on bike/walk/transit access to locate in the downtown and mixed-use commercial/residential districts.
Achieve 1 Star rating AND define other commercial zoning districts to allow non-auto-oriented uses to complement the Highway Commercial or auto-oriented district.
Achieve 1 Star rating AND adopt an adequate public facilities ordinance that stages commercial development concurrently with infrastructure and residential or transit expansion.
Action 4: Adopt a commercial zoning district that permits only auto-oriented land uses.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Natural Resource Conservation Design
{ BP no. 10 }

Complete an NRI or NRA and use findings in the decision-making process when evaluating land use options. Report individual tree replacement ordinances in best practice action 16.5
Adopt ordinance language that utilizes findings in the inventory/assessment; adopt an incentive for conservation design in your zoning or subdivision ordinance, in which at least 50% of developable land is permanently protected, or create a conservation design district that requires the use of conservation design practices such as permanent protection of high quality habitat/open space, explicit wildlife corridors.
Create city-wide protections for natural systems/resources (e.g., groundwater, uplands, forest bats), such as mandatory natural resource design standards for priority natural resource and open space areas, or for rezonings of agricultural or other undeveloped land, require a finding of fact that undeveloped residential land in the city is insufficient to meet market demand.
Action 1: Conduct a Natural Resource Inventory or Assessment (NRI or NRA); incorporate protection of priority natural systems or resources such as groundwater through the subdivision or development process.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Transportation   Transportation

Living Streets
{ BP no. 11 }

A city council resolution to develop standards; a policy governing city-owned streets; routine consideration of complete streets elements in all streets projects; explicit complete streets comp/strategic plan direction, that expresses the city's intent to facilitate multi-modal transportation (at least one route for each mode); include consideration of EV charging stations.
A city-council-adopted complete streets policy and implementation criteria.
A Living Streets policy; modify street design standards/practices according to policy, addressing multimodal transportation, trees and stormwater; possible additional elements include align new streets to give buildings energy-efficient passive solar orientations; address public art in the street right-of-way; use a sustainable infrastructure tool; give consideration to growing use of ridesharing services and shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) by, for example, planning for more drop-off road sections.
Action 1: Adopt a complete streets policy that also addresses street trees and stormwater.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Remedy at least one complete street gap, including using alleys. Report green alley interventions under action 17.5
Inspect, evaluate, inventory and map your roadway network for complete streets insufficiencies and develop a prioritized transition plan and timeline for remedying the insufficiencies and gaps. Pay particular attention to multimodal conflict areas and transit connections to serve users and destinations.
Routinely budget complete streets improvements through roadway & bridge capital improvement & maintenance projects; show project cost-savings through innovative/collaborative efforts with other jurisdictions/stakeholders; address street corridor issues by infill, adding bridge liner (retail on a bridge to be rebuilt in a walkable corridor), etc.
Action 4: Identify, prioritize and remedy complete streets gaps and lack of connectivity within your road network by, for example, adding a bike route/lane, truck route, sidewalk or mid-block alley.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Make functional/recreational walking/biking possible between at least one park/open area and city streets. Report remedies for gaps entirely within your city's system of parks, off-road trails and open spaces under best practice action 18.1
Add a walking/bike trail that significantly improves access between two areas without a full network of streets, e.g., connecting cul-de-sacs within a housing development that has very long blocks.
Fully integrate your street and off-road trail network to facilitate bike/ped commuting; report under action 18.1 a walking/biking trail that connects your city to a key destination/area/trail outside the city.
Action 5: Identify and remedy street-trail gaps between city streets and off-road trails/bike trails to better facilitate walking and biking.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


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.
Measures from street reclaiming, naked streets, shared space, woonerfs, and Paint the Pavement approaches; diverging diamond interchange; 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 measures, including road diets, roundabouts, shared space and depaving, in at least one street redevelopment project.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Mobility Options
{ BP no. 12 }

A basic map that shows (by neighborhood if a larger city) key civic/commercial sites, best bike and pedestrian routes, and transit routes and schedules; as needed distribute print materials in different languages; report increases in walk/bike counts.
Installed infrastructure such as designed bike or pedestrian or transit facilities like park and ride lots (report sidewalks/bike lanes under action 11.4), OR document the increase in employeer-offered transportation fringe benefits, OR report a Walk Score of 70+ or an increase in your city's Walk Score.
Be recognized as a Bicycle or Walk Friendly Community, OR require routine installation of infrastructure, such as bike parking, for all new multifamily and non-residential developments, OR allow property owners to substitute bike parking spaces for required car parking spaces.
Action 1: Promote walking, biking and transit use by one or more of the following means:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Produce/distribute route maps, signage or a web site.

b. Document increased bike facilities, such as racks, bike stations or showers.

c. Add bus infrastructure, such as signage, benches, shelters, park and ride lots, and real-time arrival data-streaming.

d. Increase the number of employers promoting multiple commuting options, including offering qualified transportation fringe benefits instead of only a tax-free parking fringe benefit.

e. Be recognized as a Walk Friendly or Bicycle Friendly Community.


Page on chamber of commerce site includes links to one or more services.
Page on city web site includes links to one or more services; note discounts for different populations (children, students, elderly, low-income).
Information includes or has easy links to costs, routes, operation hours, etc.; promote a peer-to-peer taxi service.
Action 3: Prominently identify mobility options: transit; paratransit/Dial-A-Ride; cab service; rental cars; bikes.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Develop and/or distribute education materials.
Develop a rideboard or partner with a ridesharing online service to create a rideboard/carpool matching service.
Facilitate carpooling/ridesharing by creating a park and ride lot.
Action 4: Promote carpooling or ridesharing among community members, city employees, businesses, high schools and institutions of higher education.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Environmental Management   Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing
{ BP no. 15 }

Have a written policy/guidelines/practices specifying at minimum the purchase of Energy Star equipment/appliances and recycled-content paper (at least 30% post-consumer). Don't report street lighting/traffic signal policy/purchases here, report them under action 4.2; vehicle policy/purchases under 13.2 and 13.3
Have a formal policy adopted by the city council; note if this includes centralized purchasing into one office/person.
For the city’s top 10 categories of spend, track the purchases of sustainable products/services purchased annually compared to non-sustainable products/services purchased; join with other cities in joint purchasing of environmentally preferable products and summarize EPP purchases.
Action 1: Adopt a sustainable purchasing policy or administrative guidelines/practices directing that the city purchase at least:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. EnergyStar certified equipment and appliances and

b. Paper containing at least 30% post-consumer recycled content.


Purchase at least 30% renewably generated electricity: grid power plus either purchasing renewable energy credits ("green tags") and/or electricity from a solar garden and/or city PV installation. Report bulk-buying of renewables equipment for city employee installation under action 26.4; report city promotion of resident/business purchases from a community solar garden under 26.4 or 26.6
Purchase electricity, natural gas, liquid fuels & steam heat such that in total energy content renewables make up at least 35%.
Purchase up to 120% of electricity for city operations from a solar garden; purchase electricity, natural gas, liquid fuels & steam heat such that in total energy content renewables make up at least 50%; join the Green Power Partnership.
Action 2: Purchase energy used by city government with a higher renewable percentage than required by Minnesota law.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Adopt a policy or adopt practices for meetings and events hosted by city government addressing issues such as solid waste generated (e.g., paperless city council packets), transit/carpooling to meetings/events. This could include distributing educational materials about holding a no-waste event for use at city-supported events such as National Night Out / Night to Unite. Report broad educational material distributed at events under action 24.4
Achieve 1-star rating and also include a policy for meetings and events taking place on city property, including parks and libraries; include healthy/local/organic food elements.
Achieve 2-star rating and work with at least the largest private venue in the city (such as a conference center) to cut waste generation by at least 1/3 and to increase recycling by at least 1/3.
Action 7: Lower the environmental footprint of meetings and events in the city.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Urban Forests & Soils
{ BP no. 16 }

Street trees are provided on both sides of at least 60% of the main downtown street at intervals averaging no more than about 40 feet, excluding driveways, utility vaults and street portions inhospitable to trees. Report living snow fences under action 9.3
Major effort providing or offering residents / businesses trees to plant on private property.
Maximize tree planting/landscaping on the entire blocks along mainstreet by, for example, funneling money from a business improvement district to alley plantings, pocket/corner parks, parking lot plantings behind buildings, a community depaving party, and the like.
Action 4: Maximize tree planting along your main downtown street or throughout the city.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Enact an ordinance that preserves/replaces trees and soils and encourages resilient, non-invasive landscaping. Report protection of large wooded areas by means of zoning or development review under best practice action 10.3
Address tree preservation and soils conservation on both public and private lands; enact requirements such as removing requirements to establish turf grass (this does not refer to removing maintenance standards for turf grass) and permitting resilient, non-invasive native landscaping throughout the city.
Adopt quantitative performance metrics; require approval of a tree preservation plan before development (tree inventory, tree saving zones, soil preservation measures, tree replacement for damaged/destroyed trees at a 2:1 ratio or greater).
Action 5: Adopt a tree preservation or native landscaping ordinance.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Stormwater Management
{ BP no. 17 }

Have a stormwater utility with variable fees.
Achieve 1-star rating and offer property owners decreased fees based upon percent impervious surface coverage.
Achieve 2-star rating and use 100% of fees for stormwater program.
Action 4: Create a stormwater utility that uses variable fees to incentivize enhanced stormwater management, minimize the volume of and pollutants in runoff, and educate property owners.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Action 6: Reduce road salt use to prevent permanent surface and groundwater pollution.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Parks and Trails
{ BP no. 18 }

There exist at least 7 acres of municipal park land per 1000 residents.
At least 20% of total city land area is in protected green infrastructure (parks and protected natural resource areas, trails, publicly accessible school green space).
90% or more of residents are within a 10-minute walk, or within one-half mile of, a park or other protected green/blue space; report your ParkScore
Action 3: Achieve minimum levels of city green space and maximize the percent within a ten-minute walk of community members.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Create an annual event or ongoing 'adopt a park' effort for volunteer trash cleanup of open space, buckthorn removal, etc. for parks or selected public open space areas. Event can be in cooperation with other organizations. Report gardens plots in city parks under BP 27.3
In addition to cleanup and removal of exotics (1 Star), engage community members in annual restoration of natural areas (replanting shoreland buffers, restoring prairie, etc.).
Create and fund an annual city-wide event for cleanup and restoration, engaging residents in most neighborhoods and creating a public promotion around the event.
Action 8: Develop a program to involve community members in hands-on land restoration and stewardship projects.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Surface Water
{ BP no. 19 }

Work with other organizations to determine quantitative/qualitative targets for lakes, streams, wetlands.
Report at least annually to community members on targets - which must include more than TMDLs - and the status of achieving them. Report use of citizen volunteer lake/stream monitors and the Wetland Health Evaluation Program volunteer monitors.
Report % of lake, river, wetland and ditch shoreline with at least a 50' vegetation buffer; report at least three years improvements toward the targets.
Action 3: Adopt and report on measurable, publicly announced surface water improvement targets for water bodies, including the percent of lake, river, wetland and ditch shoreline with at least a 50 foot vegetation buffer.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


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 all water and waste water facilities compare to similar plants.
Report that the Sewer, and Drinking Water, Enterprise funds 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.
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 ]  


Septic Systems
{ BP no. 21 }

Periodic or ongoing tracking, inspections, report review, and/or outreach to system owners.
Require inspections on a set timetable, at time of sale or when a building permit is pulled; require failing systems to be upgraded within 12 or fewer months.
Provide financial assistance for bringing systems into compliance.
Action 1: Report to landowners suspected noncompliant or failing septic systems as part of an educational, informational and financial assistance and outreach program designed to trigger voluntary landowner action to improve septic systems.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Promote/assist in the design and construction of clustered/shared septic systems; extend central sewer system service.
Constructed wetland treatment, recirculating ozone system in place.
Composting toilets and greywater system in place.
Action 6: Work with homeowners and businesses in environmentally sensitive areas and areas where standard septic systems are not the least-cost option to promote innovative waste water systems, including central sewer extensions.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Solid Waste Reduction
{ BP no. 22 }

Summarize waste reduction in percent or tons per year, and whether a resource management contract (covering recycling and garbage) was involved, for government operations.
Summarize waste reduction in percent or tons per year, and whether a resource management contract (covering recycling and garbage) was involved, for a system of schools, libraries, parks, or municipal health care facilities.
Summarize waste reduction in percent or tons per year, and whether a resource management contract (covering recycling and garbage) was involved, for at least one larger venue, such as a manufacturer or a conference center. Document business energy/water efficiency at best practice action 2.4
Action 3: Document significant waste reduction/recycling, through a resource management contract (covering recycling and garbage) or other means, for one or more of:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. City government operations.

b. Schools, libraries, parks, or municipal health care facilities.

c. A commercial or industrial business.


Identify and provide city economic development support to relevant businesses; promote events such as fix-it clinics; encourage community members to shop at and donate to such businesses.
Publicize and promote reuse/repair/rental businesses on your city website, in newsletter articles; facilitate neighbor-to-neighbor reuse of large items before annual 'curbside cleanups.'
Document increased use of these businesses; organize volunteers (or support others) to run at least one "fix-it" clinic for community members.
Action 4: Publicize, promote and use the varied businesses/services collecting and marketing used, repaired and rental consumer goods in the city/county.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Provide participant numbers and/or tons managed of one or more programs: food-to-people, food-to-animals, compostables collection, and backyard composting. Mention any yard waste collection program (note that it it banned by state law from landfills).
Organics collection by one hauler; facilitate multiple businesses to collect compostables; include a public outreach program to prevent food waste; assist with or directly manage yard waste so as to produce and sell a value-added wood chip and/or compost product.
Manage organics via small site composting, drop-site composting, or anaerobic digestion, and/or set and meet an aggressive program goal, such as % residents/businesses participating or profitability of program.
Action 5: Composting & Organics Collection: Arrange for a residential or business/institutional source-separated organics collection/management program.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Require organized collection of residential recyclables, OR publish hauler rates on the city's web site and require waste/recyclables tonnage reports as a condition of licensing, OR assist residents on a percentage of city blocks to arrange for at least 75% of the houses to contract with the same hauler. Report compostables collection under action 22.5
Require garbage haulers to follow the city-organized recycling collection schedule; report the city recycling rate AND either mandate collection of recyclables from multi-unit residential buildings OR mandate collection of 3 or more recyclable materials from commercial entities.
Organize garbage collection; note estimated cost savings to residents and from decreased truck traffic. Also note if trucks use compressed natural gas (and if CNG is favored/required as a city license condition).
Action 6: Implement one or more city-wide solid waste collection/recycling systems:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Require collection of recyclables from multi-unit residential buildings.

b. Require collection of 3 or more recyclable materials from commercial entities.

c. Organize regular, ongoing residential solid waste collection by private and/or public operations to link one (or more) geographic district(s) to only one hauler.


For cities that provide direct or contract waste collection services, set the price differences large enough so as to increase recycling/composting but not illegal dumping, OR provide a financial or other incentive (such as a larger container) for recycling.
Offer a bi-weekly trash collection rate; set at least a 35% price differential among 4 cart size/frequency categories (~30, 60, 90-gallons, and bi-weekly).
Achieve a 50% recycling rate & 10% composting; document participation rates including % households using smaller garbage bins & bi-weekly collection.
Action 7: Offer significant volume-based pricing on residential garbage and/or incentives for recycling.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Economic and Community Development   Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks & Community Engagement
{ BP no. 24 }

A staff green team, or small working group (e.g., city manager, council member, citizen commission chair) exists; annual news article/media to community members referencing GreenStep (& other programs as relevant); city web has a link to city's GreenStep web page.
A citizens group, or a citizens commission or committee of city staff/officials exists to lead and coordinate GreenStep implementation; a report available online with details on city's GreenStep accomplishments.
A committee of city staff/officials and community members (business, education, religious) exists; annual report includes some metrics, such as dollars spent/saved, energy saved, and any sustainability indicators measured, and energy/carbon inventory data or ecological footprint data if gathered.
Action 1: Use a committee to lead, coordinate, and report to and engage community members on implementation of GreenStep best practices.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Report goals/outcomes annually from plans such as comprehensive, parks, library, housing, stormwater, drinking water, transportation, economic development, energy, sustainability. Issue a city Performance Management Report; use a simple form at http://tinyurl.com/24-2template
Achieve 1 Star rating AND identify specific steps from city departments on how to improve performance or meet goals that were not met in the previous year.
Integrate goals/outcomes reporting explicitly into the city capital improvement planning process, identifying how public dollars are targeted to meeting sustainability goals in the plans.
Action 2: Organize goals/outcome measures from all city plans and report to community members data that show progress toward meeting these goals.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


At least two informational/educational activities or creation of a group to work on such; promotion of/assistance with Friendly Front Yards, block clubs, neighborhood associations. Report under action 2.1 marketing & outreach programs that are limited to promoting/achieving residential energy use reduction and energy efficiency; report business outreach campaigns under BP 25; report youth/student engagement in city government under 24.6; report other targeted campaigns under topic-specific actions, e.g. 23.3
Sustained activities covering a range of topics (active living, food, water, energy, etc.) that have some challenge, assistance and/or measurement elements; documented accomplishments such as Green Ribbon School recognition, Friendly Fronts apartment building certification (coming in later 2017); city work that supports schools/youth to improve their schools (through an ecology club, school green team, IPL youth team).
Sustained activities and multiple reported outcomes such as increased multi-modal commuting, reduced water and energy use, increased local food production, increased business vitality, etc.
Action 4: Conduct or support a broad sustainability education and action campaign involving:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. The entire community.

b. Homeowners.

c. Front yards, block clubs, neighborhood associations.

d. Congregations.

e. Schools, colleges.


Green Business Development
{ BP no. 25 }

Provide incentives such as targeted loans, grants, streamlined permitting processes; participate in coordinated marketing and business assistance efforts, or provide similar such support; actively support women- and minority-owned businesses.
Provide or link businesses to incubator space, local/MN suppliers, or other tangible assests.
Utilize an economic gardening approach; support the creation of co-operatively owned businesses (report retail food co-ops under action 27.4); develop workforce training opportunities with community colleges and job training centers to credential, for example, energy auditors.
Action 1: Support new/emerging green businesses and green jobs through targeted assistance and new workforce development.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Identify how area tourism is featuring green aspects of the area/their business, and/or how the city has contacted businesses (and how many) about making internal green changes within their business.
Create or participate in an ongoing green tourism initiative; facilitate follow-up with at least 5 businesses to assist them/arrange for assistance to them in greening their business.
Document the financial and environmental outcomes from these green tourism efforts on your city web site. Report any green tourism business certifications earned in action 25.6.
Action 3: Actively promote sustainable tourism in your city, and green tourism resources to tourism and hospitality businesses in/around the city.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Report businesses that reuse, remanufacture, recycle and compost local material and arbitrage surplus capacity of existing service/product businesses. Report under action 22.4 efforts to publicize, promote and use reuse/repair/rental businesses, and report under action 12.6 bike/car sharing.
City BR&E (business retention and expansion) efforts explicitly assist value-added businesses.
Provide explicit incentives such as loans/grants to such businesses.
Action 4: Strengthen value-added businesses utilizing local "waste" products and renting products/services.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Recognize and promote (for example, on your city web site) businesses whose environmental actions are recognized by a local, regional or statewide program, such actions as recycling, reducing materials use, lowered toxicity in products, selling locally created compost, energy efficiency, EV charging station for employees/patrons, etc.
Recognize and promote businesses that are certified under a GreenStep-linked or national green business program.
Provide a city preference for support and use of certified green businesses.
Action 6: Promote green businesses that are recognized under a local, regional or national program.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Collaborate with local organizations, such as a local business group or a business assistance provider, to produce a multi-pronged branding effort (beyond just information on a city or chamber web site) promoting diverse businesses located in/nearby the city. Report local tourism, local purchasing by the city, and local food under action 25.3, and best practices 15 and 27, respectively.
Compile a list of locally owned businesses located in/nearby the city and promote them and their products (such as compost, books, arts & crafts).
Create incentives for buying and investing locally; for example, create a local currency or (discounted) local dollar gift certificates. OR report results of your buy local efforts, including specific benefits to the local economy.
Action 7: Conduct or participate in a buy local campaign for community members and local businesses.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Renewable Energy
{ BP no. 26 }

Report methods used, such as information included in a city newsletter and on the city website, and active ongoing promotion (twice or more per year) at city events, through city loan programs and the like. For green power purchasing through a municipal utility, report total kWh per year subcribed along with the number of participating households.
Partner with utility and local organization/community groups to promote this information (at least quarterly) through city utility bill inserts, workshops, community education courses, local lectures, etc.
Be recognized as an EPA Green Power Community, or report installed capacity as a result of a city-supported campaign.
Action 2: Consistently promote at least one of the following means of increasing renewable generation:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. A local utility's green power purchasing program that allows residents/businesses to order/buy new renewable energy.

b. Local, state and federal financial incentives for property owners to install renewable energy systems.


Describe any public sector project and report installed capacity in kW. Report wastewater biogas projects under action 20.6, solid waste anaerobic digestion under action 22.5, and geothermal under action 1.7
Install at least two different RE technologies and report installed capacity in kW; show that a RE installation has shaved off peak energy demand and allowed the monthly utility demand charge to be decreased.
Install RE capacity in excess of 100 kW; report combined heat and power generation, parking lot PV canopies.
Action 5: Install a public sector/municipally owned renewable energy technology, such as solar electric (PV), biomass, solar hot water/air, micro-hydro or wind.     [Click here for self-reported city details ]  


Past collaboration on a private sector project. Report industrial wastewater biogas projects under action 20.6
Current collaboration on a private sector project; report installed kW capactiy.
Current collaboration on a private sector project that is utility-scale; for example, city government signing a significant financial subscription agreement on a 1-MW community solar garden project.
Action 6: Enable a new or demonstrate prior city collaboration for installed private sector renewable energy / energy efficient generation capacity with at least one of the following attributes:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Fueled by flowing water, sun, wind, or biogas.

b. Fueled in part or whole by manure or woody biomass, optimized for minimal air and other environmental impacts and for energy efficiency and water conservation.

c. Distributing heating/cooling services in a district energy system.

d. Producing combined heat and power; using a microgrid.


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 ]  


Summarize what exists in the city: a farmer's market, urban ag businesses, etc.
Report on supportive actions taken by the city such as use of city land for a farmer's market, garden plots in city parks, hiring a garden/market coordinator, supporting season extension techniques such as hoop houses or greenhouses; donations from markets/gardens to food shelves.
Report on percent of housing units within a 1 mile of a healthy food source (farmer's market, community garden, CSA drop point, and stores with an NAICS code of 445110 or 445230); convert top level of a parking ramp for a local food growing business.
Action 3: Create, assist with and promote local food production/distribution within the city:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. A farmer's market or co-op buying club.

b. An urban agriculture business or a community-supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement between farmers and community members/employees.

c. A community or school garden, orchard or forest.


Business Synergies
{ BP no. 28 }

Report on the features in a business park or industrial park project and what role the city played in their achievement. Report mixed use projects under best practice 8 and shared aspects of retail projects at transit/density nodes unde action 14.2
Specify which elements were/are required by the city.
Rate the project using the Envision sustainability rating system or equivalent.
Action 3: Require, build or facilitate at least four of the following in a business/industrial park project:     [Click here for self-reported city details ] a. Shared parking/access OR shared recreation/childcare facilities.

b. Green product development, manufacturing or sales OR a green job training program..

c. Buildings located within walking distance of transit and/or residential zoning.

d. Renovated buildings OR buildings designed for reuse.

e. Green buildings built to Minnesota's SB2030 energy standard OR renewable energy generated on-site.

f. Combined heat and power (CHP) generation capacity OR shared geothermal heating/cooling.

g. Low-impact site development.