Greening Minnesota ~ April 2010

This is the Land of 10,000 Lake and millions of trees. We take our environment seriously. Read on to learn about environmentally friendly news that happened recently around the Twin Cities and Minnesota!

Anoka County Highway Department is working on ways to get fewer people driving on Highway 65 in Blaine. The county has received a $7 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant from the Federal Highway Administration to improve mass transit on the corridor. With $1.5 million in matching money, the county has issued a request for proposals for consultants to help create a plan to ferry nine busloads of commuters from Blaine's northern edge into downtown Minneapolis and back.

Also in Anoka County, employees may have saved a few jobs by saving energy (and money). First, lights were dimmed. Utility costs at the government center were reduced by $58,000 in 2009. In 2010, the county is expected to save more than $65,000. Next, Facilities Management and Construction team is changing the heating and cooling set-points in county building from 70/73 to 68/74. That means the heat will kick in at 68 degrees rather than 70 in the winter and the cooling system will trigger on at 74 degrees rather than 73 during the summer. Each degree of change will result in a 3% savings to the annual utilities budget of $720,000. The facilities management and construction team also has turned off most of the government center's lobby lights. The idea is to use natural daylight for lobby activities.

Mulroy’s Body Shop at the corner of 39th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis has the largest array of solar panels in the Twin Cities, generating 30% of the building’s power. The installation of the shop’s 174-panel, 40-kilowatt system was completed in early April as part of a project run by South Minneapolis-based Solarflow Energy. The company offers solar electricity leasing. The company is under contract with Xcel Energy for the project, which involves installing solar panels on 20 residential and five commercial properties in the metro. It is partially funded through an Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund grant.

Heartland restaurant will relocate from its Mac-Groveland location to the St. Paul Farmers Market. chef/co-owner Lenny Russo will be taking over much of the first two floors of the Market House at 289 E. 5th St. The menu will feature foods from the farmers' market and the restaurant will bring a watch-them-work butcher shop that will specialize in house-made charcuterie. Shoppers will be able to purchase locally raised foods, along with prepared products and grab-and-go lunch items produced in the Heartland kitchens.

St. Paul officials recently awarded 10 recipients the annual Sustainable St. Paul awards recognizing innovative conservation initiatives. You can read about the recipients here. Saint Paul is a national leader in sustainable, urban living through acting locally to help reverse the negative effects of climate change. The City has implemented the Sustainable St. Paul initiative to focus development of a more natural, more urban, and more connected Saint Paul.

Minneapolis-based Target is installing permanent recycling stations to its 1,740 stores in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The program allows shoppers to drop off traditionally recyclable items such as glass, plastic and aluminum, as well as items like cell phones, MP3 players and ink cartridges. Drop-off bins are in the front of each store.

By the end of 2010, Brooklyn Center-based Caribou Coffee Co. will become the first U.S. coffee chain to commit to buying 100% of its coffee from growers that use sustainable farming practices developed by the Rainforest Alliance. Caribou currently buys about 80% of its coffee from farms certified by the alliance. The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit group which works with farms that adhere to sustainable agriculture. The Rainforest Alliance uses 150 different criteria in certifying various agricultural and forest operations for sustainable practices, including soil conversation, minimizing waste and water use, protecting wildlife, curtailing chemical use and improving economic and social conditions for farm workers.

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