City of Minneapolis Sustainability Update

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Spring 2018

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

It might not feel like spring yet....but hopefully it comes soon. With warmer weather, green grass and blooming flowers on the horizon think about how you can engage with your community this spring by getting outside and participating in events.

The Sustainability Division continues to be hard at work with climate and energy programming from the franchise fee, development of the Green Zone work plan and the start-up of the Garden Lease Program for 2018. 

Thank you for your help and support of Minneapolis sustainability!

The History of Earth Day


To understand Earth Day and how it started you first need to understand what was happening in the United States during the 1960’s. Before the 1970’s there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment; industrial pollution and toxic waste were going unchecked as the United States continued to develop. In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, raising awareness about the dangerous effects of pesticide use and accusing the chemical industry of spreading disinformation. In 1969, chemical waste released into Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught on fire serving as a visual symbol of industrial pollution impacting America’s natural resources and the link between pollution and public health.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin, was determined to convince the federal government that the planet was at risk. On April 22nd, 1970, Nelson championed the first earth day through a series of teach-ins and festivals across the United States with 20 million people participating.

Following, the 1970 Earth Day a series of important environmental legislation was passed such as the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Another fundamental step forward was the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , tasked with protecting human health and the natural environment.

Earth Day continues to be observed yearly on April 22nd and is a time to celebrate the environment and raise public awareness around pollution, climate change and advocating for environmental protection.  This year, the Earth Day Network’s campaign is to end plastic pollution. Visit their page to sign the pledge and read more about this year’s campaign. Take a moment to reflect on how much plastic waste you produce.

Get involved in Earth Day this year!

Due to weather the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board has rescheduled their Earth Day clean up event from this weekend to Saturday, May 12th, from 9:30am to noon. To stay up to date visit the event's page.

You can still join the third annual 5k Bee Run on Saturday, April 21st, at Boom Island Park to support the creation of a pollinator pathway along the Mississippi River. Dogs are welcome! Registration opens at 7:30 am and the kids run starts  at 8:30am followed by a fun run and walk at 9:00am.

Photo: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation

Earthday cleanup

Climate and Energy Programming From the Franchise Fee Increase Announced for 2018

New and expanded clean energy programming for 2018 was recently announced by the City’s Division of Sustainability at the Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights, and Engagement (PECE) Committee meeting on March 26. Through a collaborative engagement process with the Clean Energy Partnership, the following programs totaling nearly $1,000,000 were selected:

Residential Programs

  • Energy efficiency program outreach in Green Zones via community-based organizations
  • Free Home Energy Squad (HES) visits and 0% interest home insulation & air-sealing loans for residents in a Green Zone and low-cost/no-cost options for other residents
  • Feasibility and market study for an on-bill, inclusive financing program in Minneapolis
  • Green Housing Cost Share program

Commercial and Industrial Programs

  • Green Business Cost Share program
  • Fund business district / council-led small business energy efficiency engagement through the City’s Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP).
  • Workforce Development Assessment for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors

To learn more about these programs being developed, please see the March 26 presentation and stay tuned to this newsletter for more information as these programs become available in the coming months.

The Minneapolis City Council approved two ordinance amendments on December 8th, 2017 to support programs that will help the City accelerate toward its energy and climate change goals. These amendments raise the franchise fees by half a percentage point – about 59 cents monthly for the average household – with the increase taking effect this spring. The money will help residents and businesses participate in and make the best use of the utilities’ energy conservation programs and City programs. 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.

Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance

Did you know? Minneapolis is a part of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, a global collaboration of 20 cities who are committed to cutting emissions by 80% or more by 2050 or sooner. Being a part of this cohort allows Minneapolis to collaborate and share lessons in deep carbon reduction best practices with other progressive cities around the world.

Visit Minneapolis’s profile on the CNCA website to get a snapshot of Minneapolis’s emission reduction targets as well as other sustainability initiatives.


Farmers Markets Begin Opening for 2018 Season This Weekend


The first farmers market of the season will open Saturday, and the City of Minneapolis has an online interactive map that makes it easy to find farmers markets all over the city. The other large markets start to open over the next few weeks. Clicking on the map pins at will show the address, season dates and opening times for each market. The map will be updated as information becomes available on 2018 schedules for the City’s nearly 30 markets and more than 800 vendors. Most of the markets accept “electronic benefits transfer” cards as payment to give residents on federal food assistance easier access to fresh, healthy food, as well as Market Bucks, which provides $10 in additional healthy food to market shoppers using SNAP/electronic benefits transfer (EBT). Some of the farmers markets are mini markets, special small markets that the City licenses to get more fresh and affordable produce on the table in low-income neighborhoods.

farmers markets

Minneapolis Solar Co-op Opportunities

Interested in going solar? Now's your chance to make the switch and save on upfront costs for rooftop solar by joining the Minneapolis Solar Co-op!

The solar co-op works like this: bringing together a group unlocks bulk purchasing discounts for equipment and installation. Local nonprofit Solar United Neighbors is leading the effort, and their experienced team ensures you understand how solar works, how it can be financed, and how it can be installed on your home or business. Solar United Neighbors is an unbiased partner -- participants of the group choose a single installer through an open and competitive bidding process. Then, you get a personalized proposal, tailored to your specific needs, that reflects the discounted group pricing. The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, Whittier Alliance and Environment Minnesota are also partners in this effort. Still have questions? Joining the co-op is free and there is no obligation to purchase panels instead, it allows you to get more information that'll help you figure out whether this process is right for you. Learn more here:  


Green Zones Addressing Environmental Justice