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Archive for February, 2015

Why You Should Nominate a Project for the 2015 Environmental Initiative Awards

February 17th, 2015

The environmental challenges we face as a society are monumental, and at times, overwhelming. Pair that with the sometimes uphill battle 2015 Awards Logoof collaboration and you’ve got a big challenge, indeed. These are just a few of the reasons Environmental Initiative established our annual awards program more than twenty years ago.

As an organization, we feel it is important for our community to take time to celebrate our successes and honor what we can achieve when we work together. In that spirit, this message is a reminder that nominations for the 2015 Environmental Initiative Awards are open until Friday, February 27th.

If you’ve been involved in, or helped lead an innovative effort, I encourage you to apply. Here’s just a few reasons why:

If your project is selected as a finalist, you will receive:

  • Two FREE tickets to attend the Environmental Initiative Awards event on Thursday, May 21st.
  • Help sharing your story through our website, blog, and social media.
  • Tools to help make invitations to elected officials and other VIPs to attend the event and celebrate with you.

Winning projects receive:

  • A beautiful recycled glass award
  • Recognition in front of a crowd of 450+ peers at the Environmental Initiative Awards event on Thursday, May 21st
  • Professional photo of you and your project partners at the event
  • Tools to help share your story with local media, including a sample press release
  • Promotion of your winning project through our website, blog, and social media.

An independent panel of judges will review project nominations and select three finalists in mid- March. Judges look for the quality of results and environmental outcomes, how partnership was used as a tool to solve problems, and the degree to which the project is innovative, unique, or groundbreaking.

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, February 27! Don’t wait – get the recognition you deserve and celebrate your success by nominating a project.

Questions? Leave one for me here, or contact me at 612-334-3388 ext. 100 anytime.

Andrea Robbins


Director, Engagement and Systems

Midwest Bioeconomy and Safer Products Summit: Regional Innovations Solving Global Problems

February 13th, 2015

Strong manufacturing, retail, and human resources, supportive policies, abundant forestry and agriculture resources, and solid industries, summit logocompanies, and innovation make the Midwest well positioned to be a leader in the bioeconomy. How will stronger consumer (and business) demands for safer and environmentally-friendly products impact the Midwest economy?

Join the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum to explore green chemistry, innovation, and sustainability initiatives at the Midwest Bioeconomy and Safer Products Summit on February 19th.


Thursday, February 19, 2015
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library, Pohland Hall
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Register »


Laura Babcock


Director, Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

Our Values: Helping Us Make the Tough Calls for our Environment

February 9th, 2015

If you’ve spent any time around Environmental Initiative over the past twenty-four years, I bet you have a pretty clear sense of our mission. Even if you couldn’t repeat the official mission statement word-for-word (who could?), I would be surprised if you didn’t know that we bring together business, government, and nonprofits to solve environmental problems through dialogue and partnership.

It’s true – that’s the essence of our mission and we have been a consistently mission-driven organization for nearly a quarter century. Our core valuesmission is the foundation of our identity and it enables us to do things that no other group can do for our environment and our community.
Without taking anything away from that mission-based identity, though, I would suggest that we are also a values-driven organization.

I began to say this more explicitly about a year ago, mostly in response to our being invited into more and more challenging work. At the same time, we realized it had been a good many years since our board and staff took the time to talk with each other about our values, let alone articulate them to our members, our partners, and the wider community.

Be careful what you ask for. As part of our regular strategic planning process in 2014, we opened a conversation about what core values guide our work and help us make the hard calls about projects, relationships, money, and impact. It was a little shocking how quickly our board and staff coalesced around a set of core values. The process and resulting set of values, which took place over a series of conversations, was a confirmation of our solid foundation, and it was the single most energizing experience of 2014 for me!


Mike Harley


Executive Director

Asthma and Air Quality in North Minneapolis

February 6th, 2015

I’m thrilled to share that Environmental Initiative has been invited to participate in an upcoming forum on health and the environment with Congressman Keith Ellison.event flier

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Shiloh Temple
1201 West Broadway Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55411

We know air pollution, from fine particles to ozone forming chemicals, have an adverse impact on our health and quality of life. More research in recent years has shown that poor air quality is linked to asthma and other negative health impacts.

The compounding issues that lead to high asthma rates are complicated, but we also know the adverse 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.

I will be speaking about actions Clean Air Minnesota partners are taking to voluntarily address poor air quality as part of a panel discussion on the causes of asthma and what our community is doing to address the issue. Other panelists include:

  • Assistant Commissioner David Thornton, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Shirlynn LaChapelle, Minnesota Black Nurses Association
  • Dan Huff, City of Minneapolis Health Department
  • Karen Monahan, Sierra Club

I hope you can participate in this important conversation. The event is free and open to all who wish to attend. Feel free to contact me to learn more, or call Congressman Keith Ellison’s office at 612-522-1212.

Gena Gerard


Director, Clean Air Program

Thank You Lakewinds Food Co-op Customers and Patch the Planet

February 4th, 2015

On behalf of all of us at Environmental Initiative, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Lakewinds Food Co-op for having us as a recipient of their Patch the Planet program.

Lakewinds logoDuring the fourth quarter of 2014, Lakewinds Food Co-ops collected Green Patches (valued at 5 cents each) from customers who brought their own reusable bags for groceries. The Patch the Planet program reflects Lakewinds’ commitment to the environment. The program rewards shoppers who reuse cloth, paper, or plastic bags for their groceries. At all three Lakewinds Food Co-op locations, customers have the option to use the 5-cent Green Patch towards their next purchase, or to donate it.

Between October and December, Lakewinds customers raised $1,834.45 for Environmental Initiative, which is the equivalent of 36,689 bags re-used. We’re blown away by saving this many bags and by the contribution to the organization through this program.

Green patches donated between now and the end of March will be donated to our friends at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Awesome!

Thank you again to Lakewinds for having us as a recipient. We are excited about putting this money to work for Minnesota’s environment.

Sustainable and environmental organizations that would like to be considered for this program can apply via email to marketing@lakewinds.com.

Sacha Seymour-Anderson


Development Director

Member of the Month: CenterPoint Energy

February 1st, 2015

CenterPoint Energy is the largest natural gas utility in Minnesota with over 800,000 customers. We are continually looking for ways to reduce the impact on the environment by helping customers learn how      tGreenBoy_SS13774432.jpghey can save energy with high-efficiency natural gas appliances and by using natural gas wisely. We offer our Minnesota residential, commercial and industrial customers several Conservation Improvement Programs (CIP) to encourage investing in energy-efficient appliances and other measures to save energy and money both today and tomorrow. Rebates are available for high-efficiency heating systems, water heaters, fireplaces, foodservice, commercial and industrial custom equipment and more. Through rebates, as well as other energy-saving programs such as providing natural gas audits and free energy-saving showerheads, we help our customers make a real impact on their energy use, in turn, helping our environment.

Energy Savings with Impact

In 2014, Minnesota customers who took advantage of our CIP programs saved approximately 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas. That is enough to supply nearly 19,000 homes with natural gas for one year – an energy cost savings of about $13.4 million. These programs also helped the environment by reducing our customers’ total carbon footprint by just under 90,000 metric tons, or enough to remove 14,942 cars from the roadway for one year.  E Source recently recognized CenterPoint Energy’s – Minnesota energy efficiency program for achieving the greatest energy savings in the nation as a percentage of its natural gas sales (1.16 percent)!

Fueling the Future

As more and more consumers and businesses are turning to natural gas vehicles (NGVs), CenterPoint Energy is also helping to educate and promote their use as the responsible move towards a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline and diesel. Businesses such as Waste Management and United Postal Service are converting their fleets to NGVs and they, like so many other businesses, are finding solid reasons to do so:

  • NGVs are 30 percent cleaner than those that run on traditional gasoline or diesel. Carbon monoxide emissions are reduced by 70 to 90 percent and carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 20 to 30 percent. Plus, even noise pollution is reduced, as NGVs operate at an 80 to 90 percent lower decibel level than diesel fueled vehicles.
  • There are more than 1,525 fueling stations in the U.S. – half of which are open to the public, including several new stations in Minnesota
  • NGVs meet the same safety standards as gasoline models with similar fuel economy and performance.

Learn more »

CenterPoint Energy supports the work of Environmental Initiative, as our organizations values naturally align. We are committed to implementing impactful, measurable initiatives to help lessen the environmental impact of our company and of our customers.


A note from Environmental Initiative:
Each month, we feature information about one of our members on the Initiative blog and on our website. Contact Sacha Seymour-Anderson anytime at 612-334-3388 ext. 101 to learn more about this membership benefit.

CenterPoint Energy


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