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Air Pollution Advisory: Five Things You Can Do

July 20th, 2016

With this week’s heat wave in full swing, forecasts for ground level ozone, or smog, are forecast to spike, peaking this Friday with an air quality index of 101, a level classified as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” The air quality levels have triggered the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue an air pollution advisory for the Twin Cities Metro and some outlying areas. While ozone is essential for life when it exists 10 to 30 miles above the earth’s surface in the stratosphere, ozone at ground level can best be compared to a sunburn on the lungs, causing irritation, triggering asthma, and contributing to reduced lung function over time.air alert map

Why does the spike coincide with the heat wave, you might ask? Ground level ozone, or smog, forms when Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) (pollutants from wood burning and internal combustion engines) react with volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) (what you smell when paint dries, when you fuel up, or when you have a bonfire) in the presence of heat and sunlight. With this week bringing an abundance of both heat and sunlight, the reactions that create smog will be running in high gear.

The good news is that there are some easy things that we can all do can do before or on air alert days to reduce  pollution and help us all breathe easier.

Reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips
Cars are a source of both VOCs and NOx, especially if they are in need of a tune-up. Consider avoiding single-occupancy trips by carpooling, taking public transit, or working from home on poor air quality days. Taking your car into the mechanic? Have them check to make sure your car’s pollution controls are running smoothly.

Avoid Burning Wood
Wood fires, both recreational and for heating purposes, are a substantial source of VOC’s, NOx, and particulate matter (another harmful pollutant). Skip the bonfire and go for a swim on air alert days.

Re-fuel after 6 p.m.
The smell of gasoline is actually the smell of volatile organic compounds that come out of your gas tank when you fill it up. By waiting to fuel up, you can avoid VOC emissions during the heat of the day when ozone formation is at its peak.

Postpone lawn/landscape maintenance
Small, two-stroke engines like those on most lawn equipment, can be a substantial source of both VOCs and NOx. In addition, cut grass itself emits VOCs. Consider holding off on mowing until the heat wave passes and save yourself a wicked sunburn.

Reduce/Defer use of Paints, Solvents, and other VOC-containing products
The volatile organic compounds in paints and solvents allow them to dry quickly and do their job, but they go into the atmosphere as they evaporate. Painting with a 105-degree heat index is no fun anyway, so consider holding off on that household project.

Have questions or want to learn more about what you can do to reduce your air pollution impact? Check on air quality forecasts on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s website and consider signing up for alert e-mails and downloading their mobile app.

Visit Environmental Initiative’s website to learn about what Clean Air Minnesota partners are doing on an ongoing basis to improve air quality and how you can help.

Air pollution advisory map credit:  Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

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Mikey Weitekamp

POSTED BY:

Senior Project Manager, Environmental Initiative

A Big Mid-Year Campaign Thank You

July 12th, 2016

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  A BIG thank you goes out to the more than 85 individuals who donated to Environmental Initiative during our first ever mid-year individual donor campaign.  We raised $8,625 in just four weeks and we can’t wait to put these dollars to great use.2015-11-12 13.21.57

We really could not do our work without help from all the individuals listed below and everyone else who gives to Environmental Initiative throughout the year. On behalf of everyone here at Environmental Initiative, thank you all again and happy summer!

Thank you mid-year campaign donors:

DyAnn Andybur
Cindy Angerhofer
Emily Balogh
Marian Bender
Peter Berglund
Ginny Black
Patti Brown
Alison Byrant
Rick Carter
Mikel Cashin
Anne Clanton
David Crisman
Eric David
Megan Dobratz
Greg Downing
Kathryn Draeger
Chris Duffy
Brett Emmons
Judy Erickson
Joe Erjavec
Dick Fowler
Nick Franco
Emily Franklin
Robert Friend
Mark Friske
Denis Fuchs
Margaret George
Debbie Goettel
Bill Grant
Lloyd Grooms
Bill Hefner
Erin Heitkamp
Calder Hibbard
James Hietala
Heather Ilse
John Jaschke
Jan Joannides
Kevin Johnson
Jeremy Kalin
Sam Ketchum
Mark Kjolhaug
Tim Koehler
Stephen Korstad
Kirk Koudelka
Anne Kraft
Charley Kubler
Tony Kwilas
Tom Landwehr
Heidi Larson
Jeff Ledermann
Eric Lillyblad
Charlie Lippert
Judy Lissick
Lorrie Louder
Linda Meschke
Sally Mills
Tim Montgomery
Pat Mulloy
Chris Nelson
Lee Nelson
Terrylea Ness
Keith Newhouse
Rolf Nordstrom
Miluska Novota
Evelyn Oberdorfer
Douglas Owens-Pike
Kirk Pederson
Jeffrey Peterson
Sara Peterson
Andy Polzin
Tim Power
Raj Rajan
David Rapaport
Jake Reint
Mary Kay Ryan-Boehm
Chris Schoenherr
Karen Schultz
Doug Shoemaker
Shelley Shreffler
Al Singer
Christene Sirois Kron
John Stine
Maria Surma Manka
Pete Swenson
Leisa Thompson
Angus Vaughan
Donald Verbick
Judy Voigt
Wesli Waters
Jason Willett
Devin Zeller

 

Didn’t have a chance to donate in June? No worries. You can support us anytime with a gift of any size. Learn more about where your dollars go, or make a contribution here. Questions? Drop a comment here or send me an email anytime.

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Sacha Seymour-Anderson

POSTED BY:

Development Director

MAWQCP: Protecting Agricultural Water Quality Through Certification and Collaboration

July 6th, 2016

All Minnesotans want access to clean water and all Minnesota farmers want clean water to be part of their legacy.

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a new, voluntary, state-federal program that offers Minnesota’s farmers the chance to certify their legacy of stewardship and protect the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ greatest natural resource. After a brief pilot phase, MAWQCP went statewide in July 2015. Since then, the program has certified 198 farms and we just recently celebrated a 100,000-acre milestone for the program.

The program’s unique structure is crucial to its success. MAWQCP is delivered in partnership with Minnesota’s 89 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and it’s easy for farmers and landowners to navigate. Minnesota’s SWCDs are trusted partners and frequent collaborators among the state’s farmers. The process for getting certified is straightforward and personalized – all a farmer needs to do to get started is contact their local SWCD.family next to farmstead sign

There are four steps to the water quality certification process:

  • Assessment – a certification specialist conducts an assessment of a farm’s current risk to water quality on a field-by-field basis using an online tool;
  • Collaboration – the certification specialist meets with the farmer to go over the results of the baseline assessment and collaborates on a plan for mitigating any risks to water identified in the assessment;
  • Verification – the certification specialist conducts a field verification to ensure all risks to water quality have been treated, or that a plan is in place to address the risk;
  • Ongoing Support – the certification specialist and farmer stay in touch as the farmer continues to make improvements and changes.

The process is not one-size fits all. When risks to water quality are identified, farmers are eligible to receive priority technical and financial assistance to make the improvements that make the most sense, economically and environmentally, for their operation. Once they are certified, farmers and landowners receive regulatory certainty and are deemed to be in compliance with any new water quality laws or rules for 10 years.

Traditionally, conservation has been delivered in a piecemeal fashion with a farmer implementing one conservation practice at a time. While individual practices can provide real environmental benefits, they often don’t treat all the risks to water quality on a farm all at once. MAWQCP’s model of conservation delivery overcomes this shortfall. The program works in collaboration with farmers and addresses risks to water quality for every field and every crop on their operations. This field-by-field, crop-by-crop methodology allows small acts of conservation to aggregate quickly, creating meaningful water quality benefits for all Minnesotans.

To date, the program has generated more than 300 new conservation practices, from cover crops to improved nutrient management that are annually:

  • Stopping 7.7 million pounds of sediment from entering our waters,
  • Preventing more than 4,700 pounds of phosphorus from entering our lakes and streams, and
  • Keeping more than 10 million pounds of soil where it belongs, in Minnesota fields.

As more farmers learn about the program and become certified, its positive impact on Minnesota will continue to grow. MAWQCP will help ensure Minnesota’s farms and waters can prosper together, which is a legacy all Minnesotans can be proud of.

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A note from Environmental Initiative:

We’ve partnered with MAWQCP through our Field Stewards program. Farmers who are certified through MAWQCP (currently only in Stearns County) are eligible to receive a per acre payment for their conservation practices by enrolling in Field Stewards. This partnership with MAWQCP avoids duplicate certification standards and ensures farmers are recognized and rewarded for their conservation efforts. Learn more about Field Stewards »

MAWQCP is a partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Learn more about MAWQCP »

POSTED BY:

Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program Manager, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Meet Great River Energy: Member of the Month

July 5th, 2016

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative which provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives located in Minnesota. Those member cooperatives distribute electricity to approximately 665,000 families, farms and businesses. With $4 billion in assets, Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota, and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States.

Great River Energy takes great pride in conducting our business with a high concern for the environment.

We are committed to conserving resources through environmental stewardship, pollution prevention, waste minimization, recycling and reuse. This dedication is demonstrated by the inclusion of environmental sustainability in our mission.

As a cooperative, Great River Energy holds commitment to community in high regard. One of the ways we do that is through re-establishing native habitat.

We are excited to be announcing a new project!HQ prairie solar.jpg

Together with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the city of Elk River, Great River Energy will be converting nine acres into pollinator prairie habitat at its Elk River campus off U.S. Highway 10. With more than 27,000 cars driving by daily, this well-traveled area is perfect for educating the traveling public about the importance of pollinator friendly, prairie plantings.

Past native prairie projects

Great River Energy, for the last decade, has invested in over 200 acres of re-established native prairie.  Some of Great River Energy’s native prairie projects include:

  • Establishing native prairie along transmission lines outside of Savage, Minn., and in the city of Ramsey, Minn., both with park systems.
  • Planting pollinator friendly habitat along Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center’s solar array and in their interpretive center in fall 2015.
  • Incorporating pollinator prairie as part of the landscape architecture at Great River Energy’s headquarters building in Maple Grove, Minn.
  • Restoring more than 120 acres of prairie near Lakefield Junction Station, Pleasant Valley Peaking Station, Cambridge Peaking Plant, and near Great River Energy’s New Prague office.

More resources

For more information about the Elk River pollinator project, visit greatriverenergy.com/elkriverbees.

For more information and links to resources about native plantings, visit greatriverenergy.com/pollinators.

Great River Energy has had a long-term commitment to Environmental Initiative. We have been a member of the Convener Partnership Circle for some time, and this year marked our ninth year as a presenting sponsor of the Environmental Initiative Awards program held each May. Great River Energy is a proud supporter of Environmental Initiative.

Mary Jo Roth

POSTED BY:

Manager, Environmental Services at Great River Energy

Great River Energy Partnership Provides Pollinator Habitat

June 21st, 2016

It’s no secret that our insect pollinators are in danger. We know if we don’t do something soon, we risk losing many of our domesticated bees and entire species of wild pollinators.

In fact, Environmental Initiative held a summit earlier this spring in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to gather real and meaningful ideas from the community to protect pollinators from stressors like habitat loss, pesticides use and a changing climate.Monarch on flower.jpg

We were excited to learn that Great River Energy, one of our longstanding members and supporters, is working to help create valuable habitat for bees and butterflies.

In honor of National Pollinator Week, June 20 to 26, I sat down with Craig Poorker, manager, land rights at Great River Energy to learn more about their work and get their advice for businesses that are considering doing the same.

To get started, what is Great River Energy doing to provide pollinator habitat?

Great River Energy, along with the city of Elk River and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), is working to bring back nine acres of vibrant, ecologically-diverse pollinator friendly native habitat at our Elk River campus on U.S. Highway 10. It is a unique opportunity for us to add to the nationwide effort to restore pollinator populations, while also working with partners who are committed to doing the same.

Where did the idea come from?

Great River Energy has been a leader in restoring native habitat for more than a decade. We have restored about 200 acres of native habitat across Minnesota, including at our headquarters facility in Maple Grove, near our peaking stations and along a transmission line near Savage, Minn. We also recently worked on a small planting and educational event with Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, where fifth graders participated in a prairie planting near a solar array.

While Great River Energy has long been committed to native habitat re-establishment, there is so much public support for pollinator habitat projects that we began looking for more opportunities again last year.

The Elk River campus is a unique location for pollinator habitat. We’re able to educate more and increase environmental awareness simply because our project is located near the Mississippi River along one of Minnesota’s most heavily traveled roads. An estimated 27,700 motorists will pass by the new prairie every day.

What was your biggest challenge with this project?

Our lawn has always been well manicured and appreciated by our employees and the community. It is a noticeable landmark in Elk River so we knew that it was important to start talking with community leaders and employees in advance to help them understand the “why’s” behind the change.

Awareness of the decline in pollinator populations is high and many people are excited about the project. We are hearing a lot of positive support. On the other hand, we also know that the lawn will be missed.

We are working with highly experienced landscape architects and prairie experts to make sure we do it right. We also know it will take some time before the native habitat is fully established.

Restoring pollinator habitat will give the campus a new look, and an important new purpose. Once the plants mature, the campus will be a beautiful new source of pride. It will not happen overnight. Fortunately, we do have an underground sprinkler system that will help the prairie mature more quickly than it otherwise would.

Why did Great River Energy decide to do this?

This is the right project at the right time for the right reasons. Both MnDOT and the city of Elk River, through their Energy City plan, also have pollinator habitat goals, and this is a great way to support each other and the environment. Four of the nine acres of this project are in MnDOT’s right of way.

And the time is right. The decline in pollinator populations is widely recognized now, and public awareness of the importance of native habitat has significantly increased.

Approximately 25 percent of Great River Energy’s employees work and live in Elk River. This is an opportunity for us all to support the nationwide effort.

What one piece of advice would you give other businesses and organizations that are looking to try something similar?

Help people understand why your project is important, find experienced vendors to work with, and find like-minded partners. We can do more together than individually. We appreciate our partnership with MnDOT and the city of Elk River. This partnership and project supports important environmental goals that that we all share.

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Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications

It’s Smog Season: What It Means and What You Can Do

June 9th, 2016

If you step outside today, there’s no denying that summer is officially here. Along with the good things that summer brings, like beaches, grill-outs, fishing, and freeze pops, summer also brings some not-so-good things, like mosquitoes and (drumroll please…) air pollution.

Ground level ozone (you probably know it as smog) forms when Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s (the stuff that you smell when you run your lawnmower, have a bonfire, or use spraypaint) combine in the atmosphere with Nitrogen Oxides, or NOx (the stuff that comes from your car’s tailpipe) in the presence of heat and sunlight.MNAQAlert6-9-16

But wait, ozone is a good thing, right?

It is…as long as it exists in the stratosphere, protecting us from UV radiation. At ground level, it is best compared to a sunburn on your lungs, causing burning and irritation and triggering asthma attacks and cardiovascular problems. Over time, that irritation can contribute to chronic respiratory diseases and decreased lung function.

Right on cue, the warm-up over the next few days is causing ground level ozone forecasts to spike, peaking Saturday at a 97 on the air quality index, and triggering an air pollution health advisory for portions of western, central and southern Minnesota. While the high temperatures create a challenging situation, there are still some easy steps that you can take to help reduce your pollution contribution over the next few days.

  • Avoid single-occupancy car trips and gas up at night
    Cars are a source of both volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, especially if they are in need of a tune-up. Consider avoiding single-occupancy trips by carpooling, taking public transit, working from home, or, better yet, taking a summer Friday off of work. While we’re talking about cars, consider putting off gassing up until the evening, when the heat of the day has passed and ozone concentrations are declining.
  • Don’t mow your lawn
    That wonderful smell of fresh cut grass is actually volatile organic compounds being emitted into the air. These emissions come from the small engines on lawnmowers and weedwackers and from the grass itself. Be a good neighbor and consider putting off mowing for a couple of days.
  • Put off that painting project
    Again, that smell of fresh paint is actually the smell of VOC’s. If you’re planning home improvement or painting projects, consider holding off on any painting or staining until the weather cools.
  • Be Air Aware
    Knowledge is power, right? Learn about current air quality conditions, forecasts, and actions that you can take both on air quality days and in your everyday life to reduce your air pollution footprint at beairawaremn.org, a website built and curated by Clean Air Minnesota’s partners. Consider downloading the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s mobile app or signing up for e-mail or twitter alerts.
Mikey Weitekamp

POSTED BY:

Senior Project Manager, Environmental Initiative

Community Meeting on Equitable Air

June 8th, 2016

On Monday, June 20, Congressman Ellison will gather leaders working on air pollution to discuss equity and air quality.EquitableAirFlyer

EVENT DETAILS

Monday, June 20, 2016
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Nellie Stone Johnson Community School
807 N 27th Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Map & Directions »

The air we breathe is something many people take for granted. But in the industrial parts of North, South, and Southeast, the air is too frequently anything but fresh.

A joint Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health study estimates air pollution contributes to roughly 2,000 deaths, 400 hospitalizations, and 600 emergency room visits in Minnesota every year. We also know the negative health impacts of air pollution are not shared equally. One study found that 8% of childhood asthma cases in Los Angeles were a result of living within 250 feet to major roadways.

We hope to see you along with our staff and Clean Air Minnesota partners for this important conversation about air quality and equity. Panelists will include Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine and Minneapolis Commissioner of Health Gretchen Musicant, as well as organizers working on environmental justice. There will be a large amount of time dedicated to answering questions and listening to testimony from the community.

Questions? Contact Nicky Leingang, Community Representative and Staff Assistant for Congressman Keith Ellison at (612)-522-1212.

Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications

Project Green Fleet Removes 17,000 Cars from the Road

June 7th, 2016

A little less than two years ago, Environmental Initiative announced completing all eligible school bus retrofits in Minnesota; an effort that in partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reduced emissions equivalent to removing 750,000 cars from the road each year. At that time, we daringly declared our intention to match school bus emission reductions by retrofitting 100 heavy-duty, off-road pieces of diesel equipment. As we approach the 2-year anniversary of this new phase of Project Green Fleet, I thought it would be an appropriate time to report and reflect on our efforts.

For those unfamiliar, retrofitting a school bus means installing a DOC and/or a FOH. Say, what? DOC stands for Diesel Oxidation Catalyst. Essentially, it’s like the catalytic converter on your car, but bigger. FOH stands for Fuel Operated Heater. When buses need to warm up in winter or during school trips, they idle the engine to provide heat. An FOH is a small heater that heats the engine and the bus while reducing fuel use by 90%. As retrofits go, DOCs and FOHs are easy: quick to install, cheap, and compatible with most buses. Plus, Environmental Initiative and our partners paid for 100% of the retrofit costs. Tough to turn down, amirite?

From Buses to Big (Really Big) Diesel Vehicles

Heavy-duty, off-road retrofits are a “horsepower” of a different color. Basically, there are three options: you can upgrade an engine, replace an engine, or replace the whole piece of equipment. These retrofits result in massive emission reductions, but they also cost much more. While Project Green Fleet offers a match incentive, fleets often invest tens of thousands of dollars of their own resources for a heavy-duty retrofit. These bigger jobs also require more “down-time” to install along with specialized and technical expertise, which can complicate work schedules.frontloader, construction vehicle

However, despite these challenges and an audacious goal before us, the response has been incredible. Since completing the school buses in 2014, Environmental Initiative has eliminated diesel emissions equivalent to removing 17,000 cars from the road each year through heavy-duty reduction projects. We’ve also got potential projects in the works that would amount to an additional 28,000 car-equivalent removal by the end of 2016. New projects range from Sleepy Eye to Duluth, with a heavy concentration of work slated to happen in the 7-county metro area. In fact, demand for diesel emission reduction projects has been so great we’ve already committed all of our available resources for 2016. (We’re currently busy raising more funds).

Our partners at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have received similar response to funding for clean diesel projects through their Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program. The MPCA program covers 40% of diesel upgrade costs and funding is expected to increase to $400,000 for next year. Learn more »

So, where do we go from here?

In the words of Big Tom Callahan, “…you’re either growing or you’re dying.” Three things will determine the future success of Project Green Fleet: fleet participation, increased awareness of air pollution and the need for emission reductions, and funding.

We’ve got a lot of work to do. Here are three ways you can help:

  • Know a company or fleet manager who may be interested in upgrading their older diesel equipment? Contact me for program information to pass along.
  • Raise awareness about air quality. We’re looking for guest bloggers, story ideas, social media sharing, and more to support a coordinated campaign to raise awareness about air quality in Minnesota. If you’re interested in communicating about air quality, contact Emily Franklin in our office to plug in.
  • Donate. Between June 8 and July 1, any contribution made to Environmental Initiative will be matched dollar for dollar. Donations from individuals like you help make work like Project Green Fleet, and our other collaborative projects, possible. Donate here »

 

Bjorn Olson

POSTED BY:

Senior Environmental Project Associate

Flint Hills Resources: Member of the Month

June 3rd, 2016

The Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery, located in Rosemount, produces transportation fuels used throughout the Midwest, including most of Minnesota’s gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel, as well as other products such as propane and asphalt. Pine Bend is among the cleanest, most efficient oil refineries in the country. It has reduced total onsite emissions in 11 of the last 15 years, and its emissions per barrel are approximately 19% lower than other U.S. refineries.

Flint Hills Resources and its employees partner with a variety of local organizations where they contribute their expertise, time and resources to benefit the community. Environmental Initiative one of those organizations.

Flint Hills Resources is a founding sponsor and ongoing supporter of Project Green Fleet, a collaborative effort with Environmental Initiative to install pollution control equipment in thousands of Minnesota school buses, heavy-duty trucks, and other diesel vehicles. In 2014, Flint Hills provided a $1 million donation which allowed us to complete Project Green Fleet’s school bus retrofit program (3,000+ buses) and expand the program to other diesel-powered equipment.

Now we are retrofitting construction equipment and even tugboats! Becky Sue, a riverboat used on the Mississippi River, received upgrades to its 600-horsepower engines which push barges in Saint Paul’s harbor. This effort reduced emissions equivalent to removing 12,000 cars from the road each year. Exciting milestones have happened and continue to happen with this award-winning voluntary program.

Flint Hills is also an Environmental Initiative award winner for its work to restore 1,650 acres of natural prairie and oak savanna known as the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area along the Mississippi River. This area provides critical habitat for both resident and migratory animals and is a migration corridor for millions of songbirds and 40% of North America’s waterfowl and shorebirds. In addition, Flint Hills’ 30-year collaboration with Ducks Unlimited has resulted in 36,000 acres of restored wild rice lake habitat, 144,235 acres of wetland protection and restoration, 54,097 acres of grasslands protection, and five miles of sensitive shoreline protection.

Together, Environmental Initiative and Flint Hills have made meaningful contributions in Minnesota. To learn more about the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery, visit PineBendRefinery.com.

Sacha Seymour-Anderson

POSTED BY:

Development Director

Winners Announced at 2016 Environmental Initiative Awards Ceremony

May 27th, 2016

At Environmental Initiative, we create a safe space where people with different perspectives come together to learn, discuss, reach agreement, and implement environmental solutions in partnership. It’s no easy task bringing together unlikely partners to solve environmental problems. We created the Environmental Initiative Awards to honor those working in the spirit of our mission and to inspire others to collaborate.

Without further ado, here are the 2016 Environmental Initiative Award winners. Congratulations to all of the individuals and organizations involved in these outstanding projects!

Also, be sure to check out some of the great photos and social media posts shared live at the event.

2016 Partnership of the YearAgPlastic

Recycling Agricultural/Marine Plastics
With the use of plastic films on the rise, a diverse group of stakeholders identified and established environmentally and economically sustainable methods for properly managing agricultural (like bale wraps) and boat plastic wrap waste.

Community ActionSun Ray Library

Sun Ray Nature-Smart Library
The newly renovated Sun Ray Library is changing the way the community thinks about literacy, environmental stewardship, and youth leadership by becoming a hub for nature learning and recreation. The library transformed both its physical environment and programming to serve as a place for families to learn and engage with nature.

Energy & ClimateTheRose526

The Rose
A model of the next generation of multifamily housing, The Rose successfully  incorporated ultra-sustainable design, energy efficiency, and healthy building materials into a Minneapolis apartment complex accessible to low-income families.

Environmental EducationRace2Reduce

Race 2 Reduce
Race 2 Reduce is engaging the public and educating youth in the surrounding communities of White Bear Lake on the importance of local water conservation. Last year, Race 2 Reduce reached over 2,155 students and 870 adult community members and engaged more than 62 classrooms and 5 clubs.

Food StewardshipFeastLocalFoods

Feast! Local Foods Network
The Feast! Local Foods Network is a partnership committed to growing a sustainable, local and regional food system. While Feast! works to expand markets for local foods businesses and helps those businesses to grow, it also encourages businesses to move towards environmentally-responsible practices.

Natural ResourcesCoffeeCreek

Coffee Creek Daylighting and Restoration
Project partners restored a severely damaged section of Coffee Creek in the City of Duluth. The new stream channel provides valuable habitat for trout, is more resilient for future flood events, and promotes sustainable redevelopment of urban land.

Sustainable Business

Metropolitan Airports Commission’s Sustainable Solar PV and LED Lighting Project
The Metropolitan Airports Commission and Ameresco partnered to install the largest (non-utility) solar PV project in Minnesota and the largest integrated solar and lighting project at a U.S. airport.MAC - Blog

Congratulations again to all of the finalists and this year’s winning projects. Be sure to share the good news about your favorite project on social media by using #16EIAwards.

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The Environmental Initiative Awards annually honor innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership. From large statewide efforts to small-scale locally based projects, many of Minnesota’s most innovative environmental efforts have succeeded as a result of collaboration.

Nominations for the 2017 Environmental Initiative Awards will open in January.

Andrea Robbins

POSTED BY:

Director, Engagement and Systems
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