Data is important in understanding where you community is at in its sustainability efforts. Some of the main data tracking and visualization tools are below. 

“If you don’t measure results, you can’t tell success from failure. If you can’t see success, you can’t reward it. If you can’t see failure, you can’t correct it.”

Step 4 and 5 metrics 

You can view 21 of the key metrics that Step 4 and 5 communities have reported on the Step 4 & 5 Metric Dashboard. The primary purpose and benefit of Steps 4 and 5 is for communities to gather data based on the best practices that the community has taken and identify areas of improvement over time. The tool is updated annually as communities voluntarily report their  metrics. For more information on data related to metrics reporting, see the Step 4 & 5 guidance documents


Step 4 & 5 Metric Dashboard

B3 Benchmarking

Developed by the State of Minnesota as a free tool to assist Minnesota public building owners to manage and reduce energy costs. B3 Benchmarking provides benchmarking energy modeling, peer comparisons, ENERGY STAR® scores, target tracking, and dynamic reporting. GreenStep communities are encouraged to use the tool regularly and have their own account to review detailed information about the performance of their buildings. To see how GreenStep Cities compare according to the public data, see the B3 Benchmarking Rankings


B3 Benchmarking Rankings

Minnesota Sustainability Index

Track governmental units in Minnesota who have analyses, goals, and/or plans related to climate, energy, and equity. The index includes local, tribal, regional, and statewide examples and hyperlinks to materials.

  • Energy: Goals related to renewable energy and renewable generation.
  • Greenhouse gases and climate mitigation: Greenhouse gas inventories and greenhouse gas reductions goals.
  • Planning: Climate Action Plans, Energy Action Plans, Adaptation/Resilience Plans, and Sustainability Reports/Recommendations. Looking for an in-depth overview of Climate Plans in Minnesota? Check out the 100% Campaign’s 2021 review.
  • Vulnerability and Equity: Equity Planning/Action Plans, Vulnerable Population Assessments, and Vulnerability/Risk Assessments.
  • Formal Commitments: Commitments to initiatives such as Cities Race to Zero, We Are Still In, and Climate Emergency Declarations.
  • Green Teams and Commissions: Green Teams and Environmental/Sustainability or Equity/Human Rights Commissions.




Minnesota Sustainability Index

Community-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tools - Minnesota specific

The Regional Indicators Initiative measures annual performance metrics for Minnesota cities committed to increasing their overall efficiency and level of sustainability. The initiative, developed and managed by LHB, collects city-wide data to measure progress of four indicators: energy, water, travel, and waste. The data is then analyzed to provide a free carbon baseline assessment for greenhouse gas emissions. Cities may request a data update for a fee. 

The Twin Cities Greenhouse Gas Inventory summarizes the sources of emissions by jurisdiction and tracks how greenhouse gas emissions are changing over time. The inventory, developed by the Metropolitan Council, is available to all metropolitan area cities and townships (counties to come) and includes seven sectors: transportation, energy, solid waste, wastewater, agriculture, land use, and environmental justice. NOTE: This tool is still under development. Only 2018 data is provided for only some sectors. 


Regional Indicators Initiative

Community/Municipal Operations Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tool - Minnesota specific

Step 4 & 5 cities reporting metrics include data for operations (facilities, fleet, renewable energy production) that provide a free, basic operations assessment. Data can be entered in the Step 4&5 Metrics Worksheet and guidance is available for more details. 

Example graph showing city operations emissions by energy type by year