Minneapolis Greenprint report outlines five years of successes and challenges
The City of Minneapolis released its fifth annual Greenprint report at a presentation to the Minneapolis City Council Committee on Regulatory, Energy & Environment on Monday, April 5. In releasing this report, City staff experts described progress and challenges around major components of a healthy and environmentally responsible city. The report details steps that the City is taking as it continues developing sustainability indicators, data and policies that are helping systematically make Minneapolis a cleaner, healthier, more responsible city with an even better quality of life.
The innovative and nationally recognized Minneapolis Greenprint provides a realistic framework for protecting and enhancing our environment based around 12 key environmental indicators measurable targets showing how the City will know when it has succeeded in reaching its sustainability goals. The indicators track issues measuring our environmental health and quality of life, such as using more renewable energy, improving our air and water quality, and improving bicycling as a transportation option.
As part of its 2009 efforts, the City of Minneapolis:
- Added new indicators and established new targets on local food and waste reduction/recycling.
- Projected reaching the bikeways target years early and increased the target. Staff began expanding data tracking on bikes to include greater focus on how much bicycling is actually being done in the city through bicycle counts and using the Bike Ambassador program to promote and expand bicycling education throughout the city.
- Met the target for no combined sewer overflows for the third year in a row. The City has a target of no combined sewer overflows (CSO) by 2014, in which heavy rains can cause stormwater contaminated with raw sewage to be conveyed into the Mississippi. As of the end of 2009, the City has now had three years without any CSO events.
- Expanded a pilot residential organics composting collection program to a second neighborhood.
- Engaged more than 100 residents in the Homegrown Minneapolis initiative focused on expanding efforts to grow, sell, distribute and consume more fresh, sustainably produced and locally grown foods.
The City also saw the completion of several important green infrastructure investments:
- The Xcel Energy Riverside Plant was converted from coal to natural gas to reduce polluting emissions.
- The downtown Marquette and Second avenues transit project now provides side-by-side bus-only lanes for less idling of buses in downtown, decreased stormwater runoff, more efficient lighting and new trees with improved growing conditions for healthier and larger trees.
- The new Northstar Commuter Rail connects downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake, and a new Hiawatha light rail transit station opened in downtown.
- The Target Center green roof was completed. The largest in the state and the 10th largest in the world, it will capture 1 million gallons of stormwater each year.
The Greenprint also identifies challenges so the City may focus on addressing them, including:
- The emerald ash borer, an invasive pest that attacks and kills ash trees, is a special threat to maintaining no net loss to our tree canopy. This beetle was recently discovered in Minneapolis, so we expect to lose our 200,000 ash trees. That’s more than 20 percent of all the City's trees.
- Our high consumption of fossil fuels for transportation and home heating and cooling is an ongoing challenge.
- Regional transit ridership fell in 2009 after several years of growth.
Published Apr. 6, 2010