Coon Rapids applies to be host site for state program

The city of Coon Rapids wants to be a host site for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s GreenCorp program.

The Coon Rapids City Council has authorized Recycling Coordinator Colleen Sinclair to submit an application that would, if approved by the state agency, provide the city with a full-time intern for some 11 months from September 2014 to August 2015.

There is no direct cost to the city; all it would have to do is furnish office space, access to a computer, telephone, various supplies and training, according to Sinclair.

The Minnesota GreenCorp program is available local, regional, state and tribal public entities as well as school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education and 501(c) nonprofit organizations, Sinclair told the council.

GreenCorp members work on projects that include air quality, for example, energy conservation and green transportation; waste prevention and recycling; green infrastructure such as local foods, stormwater management and urban forestry; and Living Green outreach.

For Coon Rapids, Sinclair is proposing that the GreenCorp intern would work on completing a citywide street light inventory to evaluate the possibility of LED conversion as an energy conservation measure.

In addition, the employee would help to research, investigate and provide data for the city’s GreenStep initiative, Sinclair said.

“Doing so would jump start this program and detail a road map for the future to accomplish improvements in sustainability areas of interest to the city,” she said.

Established by state legislation in 2008 to provide sustainable best practices focusing on local government reducing energy use and greenhouse gases, the GreenStep program is a public-private partnership involving, among others, the pollution control agency’s Office of Energy Security, Clean Energy Resource Teams, League of Minnesota Cities and Great Plains Institute.

According to Sinclair, who has been designated the city’s GreenStep coordinator, the program offers 28 sustainable development best practices in five areas – buildings and lighting, transportation, land use, environmental management and economic and community development.

Each best practice can be implemented by completing one or more actions from a list of four to eight, said Sinclair.

“This program provides clear goals for citywide sustainability in various areas,” she said. “We are able to track what areas Coon Rapids is currently doing well in and what areas we can improve in based on specific criteria.”

Under the GreenStep program, Coon Rapids is a listed as a class A city based on its size and makeup of employees and properties, according to Sinclair.

A recent audit by staff in city departments has identified that 14 of the 28 steps have been completed and Coon Rapids will qualify for step two in the three-level GreenStep program, Sinclair said.

The Green Step initiative was approved by the council earlier this year on the recommendation of the Coon Rapids Sustainability Commission.