The Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program

History and development

Minnesota GreenStep Cities CoverDuring fall 2007, Minnesota's Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) held regional listening sessions around the state to discuss community-based energy opportunities and the state's Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The idea was raised of creating a sustainable cities program, free to cities, that would challenge, assist and recognize cities that were "green stars." This idea was taken up by the 2008 Legislature, which directed the MPCA, the Division of Energy Resources at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and CERTs to recommend actions cities could take on a voluntary basis.

Those recommendations are contained in the report Minnesota GreenStep Cities. Representatives from dozens of cities, non-profit organizations, the University of MN, businesses and state government agencies provided the outline for what has been developed as the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, which began in June 2010. As a non-regulatory program, GreenStep learns from Minnesota cities and assistance providers, and continually refines the best practice actions and the resources for taking action. The program also benefits from contact with a dozen other GreenStep-like programs across the nation, and helped create the National Sustainable States Network in 2015.

In May 2012 the GreenStep Cities program received awards in the categories of Sustainable Communities and 2012 Partnership of the Year from the Minnesota organization Environmental Initiative. The awards honor partnerships, inspire other organizations to create similar projects, and encourage collaborative approaches to environmental problem solving. Over 340 attendees at the awards dinner voted among the 15 finalists nominated for the 2012 Partnership of the Year.

GSC Award

In 2016 the Humphrey Institute School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota presented GreenStep with a State Government Innovation Award: one of ten awards to recognize state government entities engaged in innovation and service redesign.

Humphry Award.jpg

Partner organizations

Of the organizations that created the 2009 report to the Legislature, this working group below meets monthly as the GreenStep Cities steering committee, contributing time and funding to implement the GreenStep Cities program.

MPCA logo Minnesota Pollution Control Agency 
Philipp Muessig, GreenStep Cities Coordinator
GreatPlains Logo Great Plains Institute
Lola Schoenrich, Vice-President, Energy Efficiency 
CERTs Clean Energy Resource Teams
Lissa Pawlisch, Statewide Coordinator
Urban Land Institute Minnesota Logo Urban Land Institute Minnesota
Peter Lindstrom, Mayor, Falcon Heights
League of Minnesota Cities Logo League of Minnesota Cities
Don Reeder, Public Relations Manager 
Izaak Walton League - Minnesota Division Logo Izaak Walton League - Minnesota Division
Jill Crafton (Mark Owens) 
Commerce Minnesota Dept. of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources
Lindsay Anderson, Energy Project Manager
Rethos Logo Rethos: Places Reimagined
Erin Hanafin Berg, Director of Outreach and Policy
EQB Logo Minnesota Environmental Quality Board
Kristin Mroz, Local Government Coordinator

Program funders

In addition to staff time and funding contributed by the state agencies above to work on the GreenStep program, several funders support the staff time of personnel from the six non-profit GreenStep partner organizations. Others wishing to support the program may contact Lola Schoenrich [ ] of the Great Plains Institute. The GreenStep program greatly appreciates the support of the following major funders:

 McKnight Foundation Logo McKnight Foundation The Metropolitan Council Logo The Metropolitan Council