The last two months has been full of green news and
initiatives that are occuring in Minnesota or the Twin Cities community
and may be of interest to residents.
Minneapolis recently studied the garbage of 100 randomly selected houses
in the Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis to determine what kind
of garbage and recycling is generated there. Officials want to know how
much recycling goes into the recycling containers and how much goes into
the garbage. They also want to see what hazardous wastes are being put
in the garbage containers. The results may be used to help the city make
future plans for recycling and waste management.
The state is drafting new rules regulating riverfront homes and other
structures built in the Twin Cities to protect the shores of the
Mississippi River. The rules would standardize things such as how close
to the top of a river bluff a structure can be built, how tall buildings
in the corridor can be, when vegetation buffers are needed, and even
how bluffs are defined. The standards already in place are not as
detailed, and cities don't always enforce them the same way.
A handful of Minneosta cities have joined a state initiative to help
grow sustainable practices in what's projected to be a "green" version
of the Minnesota Star Cities designation. Instead of being awarded for
economic development, GreenStep City designations would be given for
embracing green initiatives. Though many cities have eco-conscious
intentions, finding, funding and implementing ideas can be daunting. The
GreenStep City program's website, greenstep.pca.state.mn.us, provides
resources and goals tailored to cities' resources and needs to meet
requirements in five sustainability categories.
The American home got supersized during the housing boom. Big was good.
Not anymore. A huge house, once a status symbol, now symbolizes risk and
high overhead to many buyers. After decades of beefing up, the American
home itself is going on a diet. The average size of new single-family
homes completed in 2009 dropped to a nationwide average of 2,438, about
100 square feet smaller than 2007, according to the National Association
of Home Builders. Some say it's about time. Smaller houses tend to more
energy efficient because there is less space to heat and cool, which is
better for the environment and results in lower utility bills for their
An organics recycling (or composting) program at the Minnesota Landscape
Arboretum resumes in the spring. Some trash hauling services have
already started, or are considering starting, their own curbside pickup
programs in parts of Carver and Scott counties. The new services not
only keep organic waste like food scraps, yard waste, napkins, paper,
and even cardboard out of landfills, it redirects it to a location where
it will eventually be broken down into compost to fertilize soil. Watch
for this service in a Twin Cities community near you!
New services and growing demand for environmentally friendly roofs have
helped Stock Roofing Co. get through the recession. Though Stock Roofing
only began installing green roofs a few years ago, it already has become
a national leader in such projects, installing green roofs at the
Target Center, Minneapolis City Hall and a St. Paul Fire Department
building. The St. Paul project features a park-like setting, with a
small pond, walking paths and educational exhibits for school and public
Washington County will work with Century College's solar energy
department to install a project that will reduce the cost of heating
water at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve campground and restroom building.
The county received a grant of $18,000 from the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources for the project, which was available from the state
sales tax dedicated for parks. The project involves installing solar
panels and electrical connections to the existing water heating system,
while retaining the current power sources as a back-up to the solar
Minneapolis was named one of only 10 U.S. communities selected to pilot
in the home energy score program, which is similar to the Energy STAR
labels for appliances. The pilot program will allow Minneapolis
homeowners to get a label that recognizes the energy-efficiency
improvements they have made. Owners will also be able to determine how
energy-efficient their home is, then receive estimated savings from
energy retrofits as well as a list of recommended upgrades.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved a site permit for
a proposed wind-energy farm north of Paynesville, a major step in the
project. Paynesville Wind, a subsidiary of Geronimo Wind Energy, wants
to build up to 60 turbines that are each about 400 feet high. The
95-megawatt wind farm would cover about 15,000 acres in the townships of
Zion, Paynesville, Spring Hill and Lake Henry. Construction is expected
to begin sometime next year.
Now some bad news. A new invasive species has unexpectedly entered Minnesota. The brown
marmorated stink bug made its debut at the plant protection division of
the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Although Minnesota has been
home to other varieties of stink bugs, it is the first time this bug has
been found in our state. The insect also known as the Asian stink bug
most likely hitched a ride on a shipment of equipment from the east
coast. Officials think there might be others elsewhere in the state.
If you know about green initiatives and other environmentally-conscious
programs and events occurring in the Twin Cities or Minnesota, please
leave a comment and let us know for December's Greening Minnesota issue!