Jeff Vetsch, Regional Coordinator for CERTs presents
On Tuesday the North Star Chapter sponsored a GreenStep Cities seminar in New Ulm. GreenStep Cities is a program of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that encourages participation and cooperation within our communities, bringing together businesses, the city, county, and citizens, helping to reduce our carbon footprint and find innovative ways to shape our future.
Over 70 people from the region came to the New Ulm Public Library to hear about the program. Although most attendees came from New Ulm, residents from St Peter, Mankato, North Mankato, Sleepy Eye, Lake Crystal, and Blue Earth came out for the event as well!
Minnesota local governments are facing serious economic challenges because of increased costs as well as decreased revenue. The GreenStep Cities program is a volunteer municipal sustainability program that was launched at the 2010 summer meeting of the League of Minnesota Cities. It is a vision leading our communities into the 21st century and includes actions that could be taken by citizens, citizen groups, business groups, cities, churches, schools and others interested in working towards civic improvement. The program encourages implementation of best management practices in five areas: 1) improved energy efficiency in buildings and facilities, 2) transportation and street improvements, 3) land use planning, 4) environmental management, and 5) economic and community development.
Minnesota GreenStep Cities has the support of MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Division of the Izaak Walton League, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) and League of Minnesota Cities.
Speakers & Sponsors
New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy & the Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League hosted the event with a variety of speakers to talk more about the program & highlight green projects across the state.
● Sue Kimmel & Charles Stephens, residents of New Ulm and representatives from New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy, opened the event by welcoming people to New Ulm and thanking everyone for coming to learning about opportunities for New Ulm and surrounding communities to
●Jeff Vetsch, Regional Coordinator for CERTs (Clean Energy Resource Teams) came from New London to give an overview of the GreenStep Cities, which helps cities achieve their sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. Each best practice has a variety of options for cities – all tailored specifically to Minnesota cities – focusing on cost savings and energy use reduction.
●Michelle Schroeder, Director At Large for the Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League, gave examples of local projects that promote sustainability and save cities money. She included New Ulm’s tree planting reimbursements as trees make pavement last 10 percent longer.
●Brian Ross, Consultant with CR Planning, Inc. went over the nuts & bolts of the program, identifying one best practice – renewable energy – and talked about all the different ways a city could meet that best practice.
●Reggie Edwards, Executive Director of the Region 9 Development Commission, and Jim Dontje, Director of Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation at Gustavus Adolphus College, highlighted the economic opportunities of renewable energy in rural Minnesota. They talked about a Small Wind Bulk Buy Program designed for small organizations, businesses and agricultural enterprises to build their own small wind generation turbines. Rural entities like schools, churches and farms can take advantage of Minnesota’s wind resources to offset electric bills and generate revenue.●LuAnn Nelson, Energy Services Representative for the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), talked about conservation improvement programs for businesses, including rebates for lighting & cooling equipment and other energy efficiency upgrades. She also discussed a CERTs VendingMiser bulk purchasing program that gives discounts on motion sensors for vending machine.
●William Swanson, Energy Services Representative for the New Ulm Public Utilities, provided information on rebate programs for New Ulm residents. Residents can qualify for rebates on efficient air conditioners & furnaces along with air conditioning and furnace cleaning, Energy Star Appliances, Programmable Thermostat, CFLs, Seasonal LED Holiday Lights, and more! The New Ulm Public Utilities also offers residential energy audits at no cost so individuals can identify ways to conserve energy and save money on their electric bills
Communities that are interested in signing on to the GreenStep Cities program must pass a City Council resolution signing on to the program. Before that happens, CERTs can help communities identify what steps they have already taken that meet program requirements, and what other best practices they are interested in pursuing.
New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy hopes to work with the city to pursue the program; contact Sue Kimmel to get involved.