GreenStep Cities Quarterly Newsletter

MyLMC MemberLink listserv for GreenStep city coordinators

CERTs Seed Grants - due 10/8

Every two years, CERTs seeks seed grant applications for clean energy projects. They have awarded over $1.3M to 393 projects since 2006. Could yours be next?

CERTs is accepting applications through October 8, 2021 for clean energy projects that:

  • Encourage community-based clean energy projects in each Minnesota CERT region. Clean energy projects include those related to energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage.
  • Spur projects that are highly visible in their community and can be replicated by others
  • Provide an opportunity for community education about clean energy and its many benefits

Catalyze a project in your community! Learn more and apply:

Post on: 07/07/2021

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 you 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

Equitable Solar Access Project - 9/17-30

You are invited to a kick-off meeting about the Equitable Solar Access project. The Minnesota Department of Commerce and Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is leading the development efforts for this project. Work is just getting started and they want to hear what you think and gather your input. The goal of the Equitable Solar Access project is to ensure that low-income communities can access and share in community solar development. The project aims to develop two low-income community solar pilot projects in Minnesota in 2022, outside of Xcel Energy service territory, and to utilize these pilot projects to inform future replication efforts.

Actively recruiting additional partners: this first session is intended as an introductory session during which we will present the project's primary goals and key areas of focus. Following this introductory session, smaller group discussion meetings will be scheduled to solicit ideas, input, and feedback on opportunities you may know of or concerns you may have. Please consider joining to hear more about the project, and then plan to attend a follow-up session to dig into further conversations.  


Friday, September 17, 1:00-3:00 pm: Equitable Solar Access Meeting, via zoom webinar (zoom link will be provided to registrants). 


Note: Session recorded and sent to everyone who registers. 

Small Group Feedback sessions:

  • September 21, 2:30-4:00: Community Action Agencies, Weatherization Assistance Providers, and Energy Assistance Providers
  • September 22, 3:00-4:30: Utilities and Solar Developers
  • September 28, 3:00-4:30: Community-based Organizations and Non-profit Organizations
  • September 30, 2:00-3:30: Governments– Tribal Nations, Cities, County, State Agencies

Have questions? Please contact us at:

Post on: 08/30/2021

Regenerative Communities Summit - 9/24-10/10

As the climate emergency, social crises, natural and everyday disasters continue to rock our communities, Transition and the broader movement for regenerative, just and resilient communities offer inspiration and hope through practical local action. Transition US invites all doers and dreamers, activists and community leaders, farmers and entrepreneurs, educators and artists, and everyday people eager to reimagine and rebuild our world.

Learn More and Register. 

Post on: 08/27/2021

Tree Inspector trainings - 10/15

Are you interested in obtaining your MN Certified Tree Inspector license, or do you need to obtain continuing education credits to maintain your certification? We are currently planning for an in-person event on October 15, 2021 in St. Louis Park. This event will offer the certification exam and also satisfy recertification education hours. For those who need recertification and are not able to attend this event, an online recertification option will be available starting in September. An online certification course and exam is currently available. If you are interested in either the in-person workshop on 10/15/21 or online recertification, please complete this basic online form to receive direct updates: To receive all updates and notices from the MN Tree Inspector Program, consider signing up for the Tree Inspector email list


Please reach out with any questions to Ryan Murphy at

Related to: Forestry, Education
Post on: 08/23/2021

Webinar Series: FEMA funding- 7/28-10/13

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Program Webinar Series.

The 2021 BRIC and FMA Programs’ Webinar Series will bring FEMA subject-matter experts and partners together to provide technical information, best practices, tools and resources regarding these grant programs. There will also be a review of the fiscal year 2021 Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for BRIC and FMA.

The webinars are designed for leaders in states, local communities, tribes and territories, as well as private sector entities, private non-profit organizations, and individuals interested in learning more about the BRIC and FMA grant programs and strategies for how to apply for them.

FEMA will coordinate with the regional offices to host "office hours" for states, tribes and territories to answer questions about subapplications for the Fiscal year 2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities and Flood Mitigation Assistance grants.

Learn more and access the webinars

Post on: 07/22/2021

MN Wetland Professional Certification Program - July-Oct.

Minnesota Wetland Professional Certification Program

MWPCP 2021 Training Course Schedule

  • July 22 - Regulation and Delineation Regional Training, Rochester
  • July 28 - Regulation and Delineation Regional Training, Alexandria
  • Aug 26 - Wetland Delineation Refresher Course, Maple Lake
  • Sept 13-17 - Basic Wetland Regulation and Delineation Class, Brainerd
  • Sept 20-24 - Basic Wetland Regulation and Delineation Class, Brainerd
  • Oct 4-8 - Basic Wetland Regulation and Delineation Class, Arden Hills

 Technical Training & Certification Program Trainings

 Tech Talk WebinarsMondays at 1:00 pm

  • July 19 - Roof Runoff Structure (CPS 558): Gutters
  • July 26 - Environmental Markets 101
  • August 2 - Windbreak Fundamentals (CPS380)
  • August 9 - Managing GIS Layers
  • August 16 - Windbreak Planning Considerations (CPS380)
  • August 23 - Livestock Pipeline Project Example

July 27-Aug 5 - Conservation Planning Course, Online and Field

Related Partner Training Opportunities

Extended Training Opportunities

Through October 22

Silvopasture Workshops and Field Days, Sustainable Farming Association

Through December 31

MinnFARM, Self-Paced Online Training, UMN Extension

Post on: 07/15/2021