City of Minneapolis Q1 Sustainability Newsletter

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Spring 2018

Welcome to the first Minneapolis Sustainability Update of 2018. This quarterly newsletter contains resources, initiatives, and opportunities to get involved.

As the daylight grows longer, Minneapolis climate and energy initiatives are also looking bright. With a new City Council and Mayor, City Hall is buzzing with new innovative work. Minneapolis was just named the first City to be perc free as the last dry cleaner switched over to a cleaner process thanks to efforts from the Green Business Cost Share! Moving towards the Spring don't forget to enter the City Trees lottery and the Garden Lease Program.

Thank you for your help and support of Minneapolis sustainability!


38 Projects Funded for Energy Efficiency in 2017!

The Minneapolis Green Business Cost Share program funded nearly twice as many projects in 2017 as in 2016, saving businesses $385,000 in utility bills and avoiding 1614 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Lighting conversions to LEDs made up the majority of funded projects, as they are the easiest projects to do with the quickest payback. Other major projects included boiler upgrades, solar photovoltaics, air compressor optimization, and rooftop HVAC equipment replacements. The Cost Share report provides details on the program's spending, its impact, and case studies of funded projects. Read the full report here.

Green Cost Share Opportunities- Apply Now

The City of Minneapolis supports having a strong business community alongside a healthy environment. That is why the City of Minneapolis is investing in businesses that promote cleaner, healthier, and more efficient business practices in our city. The City is offering Green Business Cost Sharing awards for business willing to invest in cleaner, greener, or more efficient technologies.


  • Green Housing Energy Efficiency (up to $30,000 per project) - The Green Housing Energy Efficiency Cost Sharing Program offers funds for multifamily residential buildings with four units or more that increase energy efficiency. These cost shares are received and approved on an on-going basis and are first come, first served.  


  • Green Business Solar projects (up to $75,000 per project) - For qualifying buildings, the City will give an incentive of $0.25 per estimated annual kwh production for the 1st year of production, up to $75,000. (If you are located in a Green Zone the City will give an incentive of $0.35 KWH.)


  • Innovative Ways to Reduce Pollution (up to $100,000 per project) -  The City of Minneapolis values innovative green solutions by investing in businesses that reduce pollution in Minneapolis and as a result create a healthier place to live. The Green Business Cost Sharing  Program offers funds for green business practices that focus on air quality improvement by reducing VOC emissions, particulate matter emissions, or other harmful Hazardous Air Pollutants. Any business which pays an annual Pollution Control Annual Bill (PCAB) in Minneapolis is eligible to apply.


  • Vehicle Repair, Service and Maintenance (up to $25,000 per project) - The City of Minneapolis values green vehicle repair and maintenance services that reduce pollution in Minneapolis and as a result creating a healthier place to live. The Green Business Cost Share Program offers grants to help fund auto-body shops to switch to water-based paints that reduce air pollution exposure for workers and the surrounding community.


       Application deadlines: March 1, April 1, May 1, June 1, 2018    

If you receive a Cost Share award, Attachment A must be completed and submitted before any funds are transferred.

City Trees - Apply Now!


Working with Tree Trust the City of Minneapolis is striving to increase the City's urban tree canopy and create a healthier community for all. Until March 9th, Minneapolis residents can register for the lottery on  the Tree Trust website. If you are selected in the lottery, you will be able to pick up your tree May 19th, 20th or 21st. As a reminder, only one tree is allowed per property owner. Large shade trees cost $30 while fruit trees and smaller species cost $40.

Garden Lease Program

The City of Minneapolis invites applications to lease available vacant City-owned lots for community gardens and market gardens through Feb. 23, 2018.
The Garden Lease Program Map shows which lots are currently available and leased. 

The garden lease process provides information on the application process and what you will need to complete for each phase of the process. Once offered a lease, all gardens must submit a draft site plan before a lease will be processed. View a sample site plan. All gardens must comply with the Pollinator Friendly City Policy. If you are interested in applying for a new lot, please complete and submit a garden request form.

Check out the Garden Lease Program website here.

 For questions or to renew an existing lease, contact Phil Binns at or 612-673-5245.


Garden in a Box Program

New in 2018, the City is partnering with the Minnesota State Horticultural Society's Garden in a Box program to offer a limited supply of vegetable garden kits for gardens on City lots, with priority given to gardens on lots requiring raised beds. Support for the Garden in a Box opportunity is provided through the Minneapolis Health Department and Statewide Health Improvement Partnership of the Minnesota Department of Health. Read more about the program here - sign up by March 9th.

Community Garden Compost Program

The City of Minneapolis offers free and reduced price compost for community gardens in Minneapolis. Priority is given to new gardens and gardens who haven't received compost before.The 2018 compost application  is due by April 20 for spring compost deliveries.

Despite new construction, Minneapolis Benchmarking Report finds reduction in commercial energy and water use

In the fifth year of commercial building benchmarking, the 2016 Minneapolis Benchmarking Report shows promising trends in commercial energy and water use. Although the square footage of commercial properties increased from 2014 to 2016, weather-normalized energy use intensity (EUI) and water consumption decreased 1.7% and 5.9% respectively. Parking garages demonstrated the greatest energy savings, dropping 36% over the three years. Other commercial sectors are still rife with potential savings. Read the full report to analyze public and private building energy trends, review case studies, and identify future opportunities to save energy and gain building recognition."

Franchise fee increase approved to fund climate and energy action

The Minneapolis City Council approved two ordinances on December 8th, 2017 to support programs that will help the City accelerate toward its energy and climate change goals. One ordinance for gas and one for electricity raises the franchise fees by half a percentage point – about 59 cents monthly for the average household. The rate increase will take effect in the spring.

What is a franchise fee?
The City of Minneapolis collects a utility franchise fee from Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy in return for their agreement to operate in the city. These fees are passed on to customers as a line item on their monthly energy bills. Fees are set by ordinance as a percentage of charges: currently 5 percent for residential customers, 5.5 percent for commercial customers, and 3.5 percent for industrial customers. The amount paid on a monthly bill correlates with energy use, which can vary by season.

Why did the city raise the fee by half a percentage point?
The money will help residents and businesses participate in and make the best use of the utilities’ energy conservation programs and City programs. It will help the City reach its goal of reducing energy use by 1.5 percent each year, annually resulting in about $8.5 million in new savings that benefit residents and businesses throughout the city. Achieving the City’s climate and energy goals will help more residents afford to own or rent their homes, help more businesses succeed and create significant environmental and economic benefits to the city.

How will the costs affect rate payers?
The average residential customer previously paid a franchise fee of about $5.30 per month (about $64 a year). The increase means another half percentage point, which will cost the average residential customer about 57 cents more a month (about $7 more a year) for a total franchise fee of less than $6 a month (about $71 a year).

The average commercial customer is expected to pay about $86 more per year or about $961 total for the 5.5 percent annual franchise fee. Due to significant differences in energy use between small and large businesses, a broad range of impacts (smaller and larger) than this average can be expected.

Solid Waste & Recycling services survey


Solid Waste& Recycling wants to hear from you!  All City Solid Waste & Recycling customers are invited to participate in a 10-minute services survey.  Information gathered from the survey will help staff evaluate current outreach and educational messages and methods; and guide future conversations on potential program changes.  Survey participants will be randomly selected to win one of 40 prizes valued at $10 each.  Thanks in advance for participating in the survey.

Click here to take the survey.

Reclycling Guides Coming Soon


  Solid Waste & Recycling customers should watch their mailboxes for the 2018-2019 Services Guide arriving soon.  The guide includes a collection calendar in addition to information on all Solid Waste & Recycling services. 

Sign up for Recycling Reminders

Make sure you don’t miss your recycling pick-up day, and read up on the latest recycling and organics tips when you subscribe to Minneapolis’ Recycling Reminders; an email sent to you every other week reminding you that your recycling day is tomorrow, seasonal service reminders, recycling do’s and don’ts, and more

Become a Recycling Block Leader

Are you passionate about reducing waste? Sign up to be a recycling block leader and educate your neighbors about recycling and waste reduction. As a recycling block leader, you can give as little or as much of your time as you are able.

Learn more and sign up:

2017 Solid Waste & Recycling Residentail Waste Overview


Minneapolis Solid Waste & Recycling customers continued to divert more waste from the garbage in 2017 by participating in the City’s recycling and organics programs.  In 2017, the amount of garbage sent to the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center decreased by over 1,200 tons and residents recycled 27,235 tons of paper products and plastic, glass and metal containers that were made into new products.   

Residents composted 1,300 more tons of organics than in 2016 and an additional 3,312 homes signed up to start participating in the curbside organics recycling program, composting their leftover food scraps, paper towels, napkins, paper egg cartons, and more.  In 2017, all Minneapolis neighborhoods achieved at least 20% participation in the organics recycling program.  In addition, the citywide sign up rate surpassed 43% and six Minneapolis neighborhoods were awarded Green Partners Grow grants from Hennepin County to continue to increase participation in the organics program in their neighborhoods in 2018.  

Solid Waste & Recycling staff look forward to continuing outreach and education efforts in 2018 on preventing waste and ways to continue to increase the amount of material diverted from the trash. 

Help Keep Our City Clean


Are you tired of seeing litter on the ground outside by your bus stop or in front of your local coffee shop?  There are several ways that residents, community groups and businesses can help keep the city clean.  By adopting a litter container, recycling container or ash receptacle, Solid Waste & Recycling will place the container at a location of your choosing.  Adopters agree to empty the container(s) when full.  Bags are provided by Solid Waste & Recycling at no cost.  If you choose to adopt a block or street, Solid Waste & Recycling will provide you with free bags and gloves to assist with cleanup.  

If you can’t meet the commitment to maintain your block or street for two years, you can request supplies for a one-time litter clean up activity with friends, family, or community groups.  For more information about these and other Clean City programs, visit:

South Side Green Zone Task Force Meeting

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 
Open Arms of Minnesota
2500 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis

Email or call 612-673-3014 to receive meeting updates. 

Homegrown Minneapolis - Food Council Meeting

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
5:30-8:00 pm

Eastside Food Co-op Community Room
2551 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis

5:00 to 5:30 there will be a pre meeting presentation                                                                           from Deb Brister regarding the Eastside Food Co-op

Urban Scholars Program

Urban Scholar applications NOW OPENUrban Scholars is a twelve week paid internship and includes formal leadership and professional development training. Scholars spend four days a week working on meaningful projects and work assignments alongside organizational leaders at one of our various partner organizations. One day a week, Scholars come together as a cohort to learn and practice skills in leadership, professional development, small groups, and public speaking. Apply here.

urban scholars

MnTAP Summer Intern Program


Students: Lead Your Own Project!

Priority Application Deadline March 1st, 2018

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program is seeking qualified Junior and Senior Science and Engineering Students to lead their own waste reduction and pollution prevention projects at Minnesota businesses for the summer of 2018. This year MnTAP plans to support up to 16 projects in locations around the state. The projects are at different companies and in a variety of industries.

Link to apply:

If you’re a student with questions about the MnTAP internship program, call Nathan Landwehr at (612) 624-4697 today.

MnTAP is an outreach program at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The organization helps businesses develop and implement industry-tailored solutions that prevent pollution at the source to improve public and environmental health while reducing operating costs. The intern program is partially funded through grants from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and state utility partners, which allow us to place interns at minimal cost to Minnesota businesses.

Companies: Applications deadline extended through March 1st, 2018

Does your business have pollution prevention or conservation projects that need a skilled set of hands to get off the ground? The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program’s (MnTAP) Summer Intern Program may be the answer! MnTAP’s highly qualified engineering interns are able to dedicate their time and skills to help optimize energy, water and materials use in facilities across Minnesota.

MnTAP interns collaborate with your business and our staff of engineers and specialists to research conservation opportunities, perform assessments and develop actionable recommendations to improves process, material, water and energy efficiency. In 2017, MnTAP interns helped 17 companies identify opportunities to save $1,590,700 annually by uncovering potential reductions of:

  •      1.1 million pounds of waste
  •      9.6 million kWh and 88,000 therms of energy
  •      272 million gallons of water
  •      231 thousand pounds of chemicals

 “This is the first time that DiaSorin teamed up with MnTAP to sponsor an intern, and it was a huge success! The intern was professional, well prepared and organized. He stayed focused on mapping resource usage, collecting and analyzing data, and identifying ways to reduce resource consumption. MnTAP’s intern program is a great benefit for interns and Minnesota businesses alike.”

 – Kelly Gilliland, EHS Manager, DiaSorin

Link to apply:

If your company is interested in a MnTAP intern for Summer 2018 and would like to discuss further, call Nathan Landwehr at (612) 624-4697

Earth Hour


 Earth Hour 2018 - Saturday March 24th from 8:30pm- 9:30pm


Around the globe, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and make noise for climate change action. Let's be a shining light on the need for action on climate change. Join the movement! Check out this video.

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