|| Minnesota GreenStep Cities
||green step, green star, greensteps, sustainable city, climate action, sustainable communities
Government, Citizens, Nonprofit
|| A statewide sustainability best practices program launched by the League of MN Cities and others for all MN cities.
During 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 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 Office of Energy Security and CERTS to recommend municipal actions and policies that could be taken to help meet the State's greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.
Those recommendations resulted in development of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program:
A challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. Each best practice can be implemented by completing one or more specific actions from a list of four to eight actions. These actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage innovation.
Other partners currently on the GreenStep steering committee are the League of MN Cities, the Urban Land Institute-MN, the Great Plains Institute and the Izaak Walton League-MN.
This program has the following goals:
- Achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases and other positive environmental outcomes;
- Provide assistance for local governments to achieve best practices in energy use reduction and sustainable development;
- Provide a "Pathway to Sustainability" that is cost-effective, pragmatic, and achievable for all cities;
- Highlight specific existing state agency staff and others who are committed to and technically able to help cities implement each specific best practice;
- Promote innovation;
- Inspire and assist residents, businesses, and community
institutions to take action; and
- Recognize local governments for their past accomplishments and their new efforts spurred by the program.
CERTS staff and over 50 people from an advisory, working and technical committees helped develop the program, which is currently coordinated out of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Prevention and Assistance Division. See http://www.MnGreenStep.org for more information.
GreenStep development efforts were based upon other similar work nationally and internationally. First listed are over a dozen state-level (and a metro regional level) green city programs, most of which focus on energy and reducing carbon emissions:
An initiative of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities' Mayors' Committee for a Green Future.
Wisconsin Energy Independence Community Partnership
http://energyindependence.wi.gov/section.asp?linkid=1514&locid=160 Managed by the Wisconsin State Energy Office.
Wisconsin Green Tier Legacy Communities Charter
A program being managed by Wisconsin DNR and 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.
Iowa Green Streets
A community development program of the Iowa Department of Economic Development
The Virginia Green Government Challenge
Managed by the Virginia Municipal League
The North Carolina Green Challenge
Managed by the North Carolina League of Municipalities
Michigan Green Communities Challenge
Florida Green Local Government Standard
Managed by the Florida Green Building Coalition
New York Climate Smart Communities
Managed by the Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Massachusetts Green Communities Program
Managed by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
Connecticut Climate Change
A menu of municipal climate actions and resources from the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change.
Green Cities California
A coalition begun with ten local governments that have implemented groundbreaking environmental policies, who are challenging other cities to take sustainable best practice actions.
California Local Action for Climate Change
Managed by the California Air Resources Board
California Climate Action Network's Best Practices Framework
A program of the non-profit Institute for Local Government, an affiliate of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties.
For a list of over 100 detailed best practices, see Model Policies for Greenhouse Gases in General Plans at http://www.capcoa.org/ (download this 250-page document at http://www.ca-ilg.org/sites/ilgbackup.org/files/resources/CAPCOA_Model_Policies_for_Greenhouse_Gases_in_General_Plans_-_June_2009.pdf ) Prepared by the the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, this guide and summary listing of best practices - while written for cities and counties in California - was prepared in 2009 and is a very complete listing of best practices in the categories of GHG reduction planning, land use and urban design,
transportation, energy efficiency, alternative energy, municipal operations, waste
reduction and diversion, conservation and open space, and education.
Atlanta Regional Commission's Green Communities Program
http://www.atlantaregional.com/environment/green-communities A voluntary certification program for jurisdictions in the 10-county Atlanta Region.
See also a Comparative Analysis of Sustainability Community Frameworks (http://www.icleiusa.org/action-center/affecting-policy/Sustainability%20Framework%20Analysis.pdf), produced in 2010 by ICLEI to support its work on a national Star Community Index for large cities: see http://www.icleiusa.org/sustainability/star-community-index/
On a national scale, see the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, signage of which commits cities to strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution by taking 12 actions in their our own operations and communities ( see http://www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/agreement.htm). See a best practices guide at http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/best_practices/EandEBP07.pdf
See also How Green Is My Town? at http://www.howgreenismytown.org/ which provides a checklist in three sections, with 28 categories, of 142 actions a village, town or city can take to become more "green." This checklist and accompanying resosurces is a project of Grassroots Environmental Education, a non-profit organization based in Port Washington, New York.
The City Carbon Index from Global Green USA lists dozens of policies a city could adopt, under the categories of Buildings, Energy Sources, Green Economy, Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation: http://citycarbonindex.org/actions/policy
On an international scale, the United Nations Environment Programme launched a City Green Star Program in 2005, challenging cities to implement 21 actions: see http://www.sfenvironment.org/downloads/library/accords.pdf