Coon Rapids to receive award for cutting energy, other costs

Coon Rapids will be recognized for its environmental sustainability efforts in cutting energy and other costs at the League of Minnesota Cities conference Friday, June 20, in St. Cloud.

The city will receive an award for becoming a Minnesota GreenStep City and advancing to become a step one city.

The award shows that Coon Rapids “is taking great steps in the direction of energy and resource sustainability,” according to Philipp Muesig and Amir Nadav, GreenStep program co-directors for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Great Plains Institute.

The city’s leadership and efforts are supporting a stronger community and a better environment for all its residents, businesses and institutions, current and future, Muesig and Nadav said.

Coon Rapids, which is one of 67 GreenStep cities in the state, joined the program through Coon Rapids City Council action March 4.

“This award shows community members and other cities across Minnesota that the city of Coon Rapids is taking great steps in the direction of resource conservation and innovation,” said Colleen Sinclair, Coon Rapids recycling and Minnesota GreenStep Cities coordinator for the city.

Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe called the award as a “great achievement” for the city.

“By being part of the program, Coon Rapids and our 66 peer cities are helping to secure Minnesota’s natural beauty for the future while also helping our cities thrive economically and socially,” he 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 Minnesota Pollutions Control Agency’s Office of Energy Security, Clean Energy Resource Teams, League of Minnesota Cities and Great Plains Institute.

The program is based on 28 best practices in five areas – buildings and lighting, transportation, land use, environmental management, and economic and community development – that are tailored to Minnesota cities.

Coon Rapids has worked hard to implement best practices in order to fulfill it sustainability goals, according to Muesig and Nadav.

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

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

Completed steps include efficient existing private buildings; efficient building, street lighting and signals; building reuse; comprehensive planning and implementation; mixed land uses; efficient highway-oriented development; mobility options; efficient city fleets; urban forests; parks and trails; efficient storm water management; solid waste reduction; and community engagement.

Among credit benchmarks Coon Rapids has not completed are new green buildings; conservation land use design; complete green streets; demand-side travel planning; surface water quality; local air quality; green business development; and renewable energy.

The Coon Rapids Sustainability Commission, one of the council’s advisory commissions, spearheaded the effort for Coon Rapids to be named a GreenStep city and has been designated by the council as the city’s GreenStep coordination team. Sinclair is city staff liaison to the commission.