Take the Next Step
The GreenStep Cities Program is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Launched in 2010, the program has five levels of recognition for city action:
Step 1: Commit to working on implementing sustainability best practices through a city council resolution.
Step 2: Implement 4, 6, or 8 best practices, depending on a city’s GreenStep Category designation.
Step 3: Implement 8, 12, or 16 best practices and complete a handful of specific high-impact actions, depending on a city’s GreenStep Category designation.
Step 4: Measure and report a minimum number of core and optional metrics for the previous calendar year or the most recent available data (specific metrics are described below).
Category A communities: In addition to the CORE metrics, include 5 additional metrics of choice.
Category B communities: In addition to the CORE metrics, include 3 additional metrics of choice.
Category C communities: In addition to the CORE metrics, no additional metrics are necessary.
Step 5: Demonstrate improvement three eligible metrics measured in Step 4, from one data year to the next.
Category A, B, and C communities: Improve upon 3 eligible metric elements.
Metrics for Steps 4 & 5
In order to receive Step 4 or 5 recognition, cities will record all of the CORE metrics listed in the table below under “Step 4 Metrics,” along with a handful of additional metrics chosen by the city (see the second table below). Each metric contains multiple metric elements. Every element within a metric must be completed in order for a metric to be completed for Step 4 recognition. Click on the links in the table to see the complete list of elements for each metric, as well as explanations of each metric element and how to record it. Certain metric elements from these lists are considered “eligible metric elements” for Step 5 recognition. Cities may improve upon any three of the eligible metric elements listed in the Step 5 column to receive recognition for Step 5. Recognition will be awarded each year, so cities must continue to show improvement to maintain their Step 5 status.
Use the 2021 Step 4/5 Worksheet to take notes or assign tasks to colleagues. To record city metrics for Steps 4 or 5, you need to use the unique username that was emailed directly to Step 3, 4, and 5 GreenStep Coordinators (If you are not Step 3/4/5 but are ready for Step 4, please let us know so we can add you to the email list). Then use the reporting tool (sent to all Step 3-5 communities by December 2020) to submit your data. If you have questions about the reporting tool, contact Kristin Mroz at email@example.com or 651.757.2793.
Use the Step 4&5 Worksheet to get started.
- City Buildings and Lighting (CORE)
- Green Buildings
- City Fleets (CORE)
- Infrastructure for Biking and Walking
- Car, Transit, and Bike Options
- Transportation Modes & Miles (CORE for A & B communities)
- Land Use
- Open Space, Parks & Trees (CORE)
- Stormwater (CORE)
- Drinking Water
- Waste Water (CORE)
- Surface Water
- Solid Waste
- Renewable Energy (CORE)
- Local Food
- Jobs & Employment
- Climate (CORE for Regional Indicators Initiative communities)
- Additional Metrics
- CO2e - City Operations (for blue metrics A-M)
- Volunteer and Neighboring Communities Guidance - List of Step 4/5 metrics that can be supported with the help of community volunteers and/or may be combined with neighboring communities.
Steps 4 & 5 Metrics Submittal
To submit your data, use the Step 4/5 Reporting Tool that was emailed to GreenStep Coordinators (if you need the link again, let Kristin Mroz know). You do not need to submit the worksheet to us. Please see the metric sheets in the table above for descriptions of the metrics and how to record them. If you have any questions about reporting your metrics, contact Kristin Mroz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651.757.2793.
Like best practice action reports, Step 4 & 5 metrics must be submitted by April 1 for recognition at the annual League of Minnesota Cities conference in June.
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.
Steps 4 & 5 Rationale
The primary purpose and benefit of Steps 4 and 5 is for cities to gather data against which a city can compare itself over time. We are, however, aware that sustainability is a very local condition and unique elements in each city make it difficult to set one number as “the number” to which every city must aspire. Recognizing that there are different ways to package metrics, cities should, in addition to submitting these GreenStep metrics, feel free to present the metrics to their residents in a way that makes the most sense to the community, and to add in relevant additional metrics that the city has historically been tracking and perhaps not communicating to community members. GreenStep’s attention to metrics is inspired by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler who wrote:
“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.”
Special thanks are due to the consultants and pilot cities who helped develop Step 4: Michael Orange of Orange Environmental and Sarah Rudolf (now at the MN Dept. of Transportation), and the cities of Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Elk River, Maplewood, Saint Anthony and Shoreview.
Please direct all critical comments and suggestions for improvement to the GreenStep coordinators via http://greenstep.pca.state.mn.us/contact.