GreenStep Cities Quarterly Newsletter

MyLMC MemberLink listserv for GreenStep city coordinators

Energy Equity for Renters initiative - due 11/22

Reducing rental housing energy use is vital for tackling climate change. These homes are less energy-efficient than others, consuming 15% more energy per square foot on average than owner-occupied homes—leaving their residents with high bills. 

To help tackle the challenge of reducing energy waste in rental housing, ACEEE’s Energy Equity for Renters initiative is offering no-cost technical assistance services to at least five local governments and their community-based organization (CBO) partners. This opportunity will be available for communities that are seeking to improve the energy efficiency of local rental housing while also preserving or expanding housing affordability. Technical assistance work must involve CBOs working alongside local governments to ensure that any initiatives launched as a result of this work are community driven. 

Local governments must submit their application for technical assistance by Monday, November 22, 2021. Visit our website for more information about this opportunity and a link to our online application; email with any questions.  

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, develops policies to reduce energy waste and combat climate change. Its independent analysis advances investments, programs, and behaviors that use energy more effectively and help build an equitable clean energy future. 

Post on: 10/15/2021

Webinars: Energy Data Management 10/7, 11/4, 12/2

A robust and sustainable energy data management program can help states, local governments, and K-12 school districts reduce energy use, save taxpayer dollars, and more. Join us Thursday, October 7, 2021, as we explore DOE's Energy Data Management Guide, a web-based resource that provides public-sector organizations with a 7-step approach for taking control of their energy data.

This 3-part series is intended for public sector officials who are responsible for managing energy and/or energy-using assets in their organization. Each installment is focused on one of the guide's 3 pillars; click the links below to register:

Each webinar is free to attend. View the full series online on the Better Buildings Solution Center.

Related to: Energy, Training
Post on: 10/12/2021

Safe Routes to School Grants - due Oct. and Nov.

Apply now! Four funding opportunities for your SRTS work

Safe Routes Boost Grants for non-infrastructure strategies

Boost Non-Infrastructure (program implementation)

Safe Routes to School Boost Grants are intended to help boost programatic SRTS efforts! Through these grant awards, MnDOT will support communities with existing SRTS plans, or other comprehensive SRTS approaches, in advancing programming strategies for schools that support making it safe, easy and fun for students to walk and bicycle to school. Project ideas include walking school buses, bike fleets and curriculum, bike racks, crossing guard supplies, or innovative ideas. Boost Implementation grants are funded with State SRTS dollars and no local match is required.

Grant application closes at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. SRTS Boost grant awardees are intended to begin work in spring 2022.

Informational webinar

A webinar will be provided to review SRTS Boost application requirements:

SRTS Planning Assistance funding now available

SRTS plans have been used to engage community stakeholders to successfully identify barriers and opportunities for youth to walk and bicycle to school and to leverage significant investments in infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions. Now is your chance to bring these improvements to your community! MnDOT’s Planning Assistance Grants provide planning expertise and plan development support to schools. Planning is completed by the local regional development organization, metropolitan planning organization or the statewide SRTS planning consultant team. MnDOT will contract directly with the planning organizations and consultant. In alignment with our five year strategic plan, we will be directing funds to priority populations that include individuals, groups and communities who are more likely to rely on walking, biking or transit for transportation; are more vulnerable to unsafe traffic conditions; or have suffered historic disinvestment in safe, comfortable walking and biking infrastructure.

Grant application closes at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. Planning efforts will commence in August 2022 through June 2023.

Informational webinar

A webinar will be provided to review SRTS Planning Assistance application requirements:

SRTS infrastructure solicitation now open for Greater Minnesota

Minnesota communities, schools and their partners are invited to apply for funding on local projects that enhance transportation safety goals around schools.

State SRTS Funds - No local match required

Safe Routes to School state bonding funds and general funds are available as appropriated by the MN legislator to implement safety improvements around schools to support children walking and biking. MnDOT will support communities with existing SRTS plans, engineering studies, or other comprehensive SRTS approaches, in constructing infrastructure that make it safer and easier for studetns to walk and bicycle to school, and in daily life.

Federal Transportation Alternatives Program funding – 20% local match required

The Transportation Alternatives Solicitation is a competitive grant opportunity for local communities and regional agencies to fund projects for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation, Safe Routes to School and more.

  • Greater MN Annual Solicitation - Greater Minnesota applicants must submit a letter of intent describing the key components of their project. A regional representative will contact applicants to help review the project proposal and the steps necessary for delivering a federally funded project prior to local communities and regional agencies submitting a full grant application.
  • Metro Biannual Solicitation – Metro areas applicants must submit a letter of intent describing the key components of their project. A MET Council representative will contact applicants to help review the project proposal and the steps necessary for delivering a federally funded project prior to local communities and regional agencies submitting a full grant application.
Post on: 10/12/2021

Host a Climate Conversation until 12/15

Climate conversations lead to bold action

Every Minnesotan has a role in addressing climate change and identifying solutions. Government cannot do it alone. By working collaboratively, we will build resilient communities, protect natural spaces, reduce risks to our farms and businesses, and create a homegrown clean economy. We want to hear from Minnesotans across the state about their concerns about climate change, their vision of the future, and what actions they are interested in taking.

We are looking for Minnesotans willing to host a Climate Conversation this fall. These conversations will help connect you with people in your community who care about our climate so you can learn from one another and catalyze action. Hosting a conversation (virtually or in person) will require approximately a four-hour commitment for preparation, hosting, and follow up. Conversations can be held anytime between September 20 – December 15, 2021. You don’t need to be an expert to host a conversation, just interested in climate change and what it means for Minnesota. We will provide a conversation guide and other resources about climate in Minnesota.

If you are interested in hosting a conversation, please go to our Climate Conversation host signup page. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Maggie Wenger, 651-757-2007.

Post on: 10/12/2021

Smart Salting Trainings - Oct. and Nov.

Upcoming Smart Salting Trainings – October & November 2021

The MS4 General Permit includes new requirements for MS4 permittees aimed at reducing chloride pollution, including:

  • Education and outreach about the water quality harm posed by excessive salt use
  • Implement a written snow and ice management policy
  • Require annual training, for those who perform winter maintenance activities for the permittee, such as staff or those they hire
  • Proper deicing salt storage practices
  • Additional measures for permittees subject to a chloride TMDL

If you are an MS4 permittee, one way to meet the new requirements is to have your winter maintenance staff, or those you contract for winter maintenance, attend an appropriate MPCA Smart Salting Certification training class. The trainings touch on the new requirements and offers practical and technical information for better application and maintenance practices, salt storage, policy examples, and resources for community outreach.

Watch the MPCA Smart Salting Training for Winter Maintenance Professionals video to hear from maintenance pros that are now using less salt and still offering a high level of service!

Oct. & Nov. Smart Salting Training Classes

Smart Salting for Roads

Learn how to integrate science with practical winter maintenance on roads while minimizing impacts on the environment. Covers technical aspects such as application rates, calibration, using weather conditions to more accurately plan and apply, converting to de-icing and anti-icing, storage and more.


  • City, county, or state plow drivers
  • Private winter maintenance contractors and staff


  • Thursday, October 7 Register HERE (FULL)
  • Wednesday, October 27 Register HERE
  • Thursday, November 4 Register HERE

Smart Salting for Parking Lots & Sidewalks

Learn practical, more efficient winter maintenance practices for parking lots and sidewalks that can help save on costs and time while minimizing environmental impacts.


  • Hands-on public or private winter maintenance staff (e.g., staff at parks, hospitals, or colleges)
  • Those who hire or supervise winter maintenance staff
  • Private contractors


  • Thursday, October 14 Register HERE
  • Wednesday, October 20 Register HERE
  • Friday, November 5 Register HERE
  • Tuesday, November 9 Register HERE

Smart Salting for Property Management

Learn how to reduce damages caused by salt, that reducing salt use can save money while providing safe surfaces, ways to encourage your maintenance crew to use sustainable practices, address liability concerns, and the basics of snow and ice management tools.

Annual property damage from salt use is high. Uncover ways to use less salt safely on your properties by getting Smart Salt certified. Hear more: Smart Salting training for property management video


  • Management-level property managers
  • Environmental professionals and advocates
  • Business owners
  • MS4 and Wastewater permit staff


  • Wednesday, October 6 Register HERE
  • Tuesday, November 2 Register HERE
  • Wednesday, November 17 Register HERE

Visit the MPCA Smart Salting Training website for the training calendar and list of certificate holders. 

Questions about the trainings? Email

Related to: Water, Training
Post on: 09/30/2021

Small Cities Development grants - due 11/17

The MN DEED Small Cities Development Program Unit is accepting preliminary proposals, the first stage in the grant application process for eligible activities addressing community needs for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation, rental and/or commercial building rehabilitation or public facility improvements through the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP). The deadline for the submission of preliminary proposals is 4:00 p.m. on November 17, 2021.

Cities with fewer than 50,000 residents and counties with fewer than 200,000 residents are eligible.

Projects must meet one of three federal objectives:

  • Benefit people of low and moderate incomes
  • Eliminate slum and blight conditions
  • Eliminate an urgent threat to public health or safety


Post on: 09/29/2021

NEW: A Green Team's Guide to Best Practice 24: Benchmarks & Community Engagement

Check out the NEW 2021 Green Team Guide

What’s a Green Team Guide?

Great question! A Green Team Guide takes a deeper dive into best practices from the Minnesota GreenStep Program. It highlights communities that have implemented the best practice in a unique way and gives Green Teams some implementation ideas. The 2020 edition focused on BP action 1.1 (B3 Benchmarking) and BP 6 (Comprehensive Plans). This 2021 Guide tackles BP 24: Benchmarks and Community Engagement.

Why Benchmarks and Community Engagement?

If we want sustainability to be sustainable, then BP 24 is the place to start. When you think BP 24, think PEOPLE!

“People” are one of the three Ps of sustainability: people, planet, and prosperity. (It’s in a graphic, so you know it’s true. It’s also in the American Planning Association’s report, Assessing Sustainability: A Guide for Local Governments.)

When people participate in decision-making, they bring information about on-the-ground conditions. That can mean the difference between success and failure of a policy or program. It can also lead to more holistic and innovative solutions to thorny and interwoven challenges.

Community members also bring to the table another important component of decision making: their values. If those values are included, the resulting decisions enjoy greater legitimacy. Finding shared values can help bridge social divisions, and framing sustainability conversations around those shared values helps increase acceptance.

Making sure that community members can engage in a productive way requires that we bring thoughtfulness and intention to designing our processes. This is essential for all to benefit equitably from improvements to community quality of life. Using an equity lens can be helpful for this. (For more information on using an equity lens, see the publications by the International City and County Managers Association listed in the BP 24.1 Resources section.)

Designing for equity can make the outcomes for all residents better. Everyone is not affected equally by a community crisis, but improving the conditions of those most affected by structural inequity will make our communities better for all, an effect sometimes called the “curb-cut effect.”

In “The Curb-Cut Effect,” Angela Glover Blackwell describes what happened when curb cuts--the ramps designed to make sidewalks more accessible to people in wheelchairs-- became the norm in US cities: “a magnificent and unexpected thing happened. When the wall of exclusion came down, everybody benefited—not only people in wheelchairs. Parents pushing strollers headed straight for curb cuts. So did workers pushing heavy carts, business travelers wheeling luggage, even runners and skateboarders.”

In other words, when we design spaces to make sure that they are accessible to our most vulnerable populations, we all benefit. And it’s not just the physical accessibility of spaces that see this effect; this principle applies to policies, programs, and processes too. In other words, “laws and programs designed to benefit vulnerable groups, such as the disabled or people of color, often end up benefiting all of society.”

So, what kinds of “curb-cuts” could benefit your community?


A big THANK YOU to authors Melissa Birch (central regional coordinator) and Chris Meyer (SE regional coordinator) with Clean Energy Resource Teams for researching, collaborating, writing, and reviewing this content. 

Post on: 09/21/2021

Conservation Partners Legacy Grants - Due 11/16

The ECP grant cycle funds eligible activities that restore or enhance forests, wetlands, prairies, or habitat for fish, game, and wildlife on public lands/waters in Minnesota. Grant requests may range from $5,000 to $50,000, with a maximum total project cost of $575,000. Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to apply, and a 10% match of non-state funds is required. Apply online by 3:00 PM on November 16, 2021. Funding for the CPL program comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund.

Additional Information:

FY2022 Request for Proposal

FY2022 CPL Funding Schedule

Questions? Please email for more information.

Post on: 09/21/2021

NEW: Addressing the Sustainability Gap in the Development Process

NEW guidance available from RETAP consultant, Michael Orange and GreenStep Cities! 

Empower your environmental/sustainability committees to be more effective at making your city more sustainable, resilient, and equitable by advocating for an environmental focus throughout the city’s development review process by using the Addressing the Sustainability Gap in the Development Review Process. Also find it as an implementation tool under BPA 24.1.

The guide has 8 main sections:

  • climate change future - a call to action
  • the third “E” in Sustainability - equity, and climate refugees
  • environmental advocacy and the development review process
  • Minnesota programs for local governments
  • municipal development code
  • case study: site plan for a laundry mat
  • case study: environmental review of a shopping center expansion project 
  • resources 

Learn more at the upcoming GreenStep Cities Workshop on October 20 (9:00-11:00am): How City Commissions can Advance Sustainability  

Related to: Announcement, Planning
Post on: 09/16/2021

Workshops: Building Performance Standards and Equitable Policies 9/16, 10/21, 11/18

Building Performance Standards: A New Framework for Equitable Policies to Address Existing Buildings

A new framework is available for local governments, community and industry stakeholders interested in Building Performance Standards (BPS) to improve existing buildings. The policy tool can help cities reach climate goals while integrating equity and economic inclusion.

At its most basic, a BPS policy establishes targets for buildings to reduce energy use or greenhouse gas emissions, or to improve other metrics, over time. In addition, successful BPS policies include complementary support programs and assistance for covered buildings, local workforce, and historically underserved populations.

Webinar 1: Building Performance Standards for Local Governments
Thursday, September 16th, 2021 from 1:00 - 2:00 PM Eastern

Webinar 2: Building Performance Standards for Community
Thursday, October 21st, 2021 from 1:00 - 2:00 PM Eastern

Webinar 3: Building Performance Standards for Industry Professionals
Thursday, November 18th, 2021 from 1:00 - 2:00 PM Eastern 


Post on: 09/14/2021