Environmental Initiative - Home

Archive for January, 2016

Introducing Brian Columbus – Business Manager

January 27th, 2016

My name is Brian Columbus and I’m a fresh addition to Environmental Initiative. As the new Business Manager, I’ll handle much of the “back office” work of finance and administration.

I’m a city kid with a love for the outdoors, which I guess comes from growing up in Chicago and having Lake Michigan practically outside my window. For literally decades, my family’s traditional vacations were trips up to a small lake in central Minnesota where we’d spend the week swimming, boating, and fishing. I’ve always been drawn to water and find I’m usually happiest when I’m in it, on it, or along side it. Since moving to Minneapolis—City of Lakes itself—I’ve further explored our state’s forests, waterways, and hiking trails, and fallen in love with our North Shore.

Several years ago my husband and I took a road trip to find that little lake in rural Aitkin County where so many of my childhood memories live. I hadn’t been there in over 25 years so, of course, it had changed but as I wandered on to the public dock, remembering the many times I’d leaped off to swim or stepped into a boat, I was overjoyed to discover the water was still absolutely crystal clear. Swarms of minnows and small fish were easily spotted swimming above the sandy bottom.

While my admiration for our natural resources had grown since moving here, it was at this moment when I had a personal and deeply felt realization about the health of our lakes, streams, and rivers. I wondered about the fragility of our watershed system, and what’s being done to maintain it.

And now I find myself here! I look forward to supporting the programs and projects that will help keep our environment healthy for future generations.

Brian Columbus


Business Manager, Environmental Initiative

33,000 Reasons to Say Thank You

January 19th, 2016


We really can never say it enough. THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone who made donations to Environmental Initiative in 2015. Our approach is different – and bringing people together to find common ground wouldn’t be possible without the financial support of many individuals and organizations.

We had a year-end goal of raising $15,000 from individuals between Give to the Max Day and December 31st. Our current and past Board of Directors raised $15,000 to match those donations dollar for dollar. And guess what? We received $18,195 in contributions! Taken with the board match, that’s over $30,000 in about six weeks.

On behalf of the whole Environmental Initiative team, thank you to everyone who donated in 2015 and to those who helped us meet our $15,000 year end fundraising goal:


Sacha Seymour-Anderson


Development Director

Member of the Month: Best Buy Co., Inc.

January 15th, 2016

We are proud to be featured as Environmental Initiative’s member of the month. As the foremost provider of consumer technology products and services, Best Buy is committed to positively impacting the environment and our communities. We believe that effectively managing our environmental and social impacts, setting science-based goals and advancing energy-efficient consumer solutions creates long-term value for all of our stakeholders.

It’s been an exciting past few months for Best Buy sustainability, with carbon reduction taking center stage. Best Buy recently committed to reduce our carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020 from operational improvements and renewable sourcing. This science-based goal, builds on our 2014 achievement of a 26 percent carbon reduction in our operations. Our commitment is evident in our pledge to the American Business Act on Climate Change, and in our perfect score of 100A for carbon reduction and disclosure from CDP.

Laura Bishop COP21Just a few weeks ago, 187 countries gathered in Paris and unanimously agreed to reduce their carbon emissions to confront climate change. I witnessed this historic achievement and returned home both energized and hopeful.

Best Buy has the unique ability to address the issue of climate change both within our own business and for our customers. Building on the momentum of COP21, we will continue to improve our operations to achieve our carbon goals, and we’ll also expand our renewable sourcing. As importantly, we’ll work hard to remain our customers’ trusted resource for sustainable solutions that can easily be adapted into their lives.


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. 8108 to learn more about this membership benefit.

Laura Bishop


Vice President of Public Affairs & Sustainability, Best Buy

From Brownfields to Brightfields: Renewable Energy on Redevelopment Sites

January 4th, 2016

Minnesota Brownfields is hosting a session to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with developing solar energy on brownfield sites. This session, intended for solar developers and redevelopment professionals, will explore:

  • Solar energy trends in Minnesota and what it means for brownfields,
  • Legal considerations specific to developing solar energy on infill sites,
  • Incentives, policies, and programs available for brownfields and solar energy development.

Speakers will also share information from real-world cases like the Rice Creek Commons in Arden Hills, Former Ford Plant Site in Saint Paul, and a 400 megawatt landfill-mounted solar PV system in Hutchinson.

EVENT DETAILShutch-solar-array.jpg
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., Registration and light breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Event program (includes lunch)

Wilder Center
451 Lexington Parkway North
Saint Paul, MN
Directions »

Registration is $75 for Minnesota Brownfields members and $115 for nonmembers. The deadline to register is noon on Friday, January 29. Register »

I hope you will join Minnesota Brownfields for this session to explore the unique opportunities available to develop solar energy on redevelopment sites. For more information, including a list of speakers, visit Minnesota Brownfields website, or feel free to contact me directly with questions.

Natalie Brown


Program Coordinator, Minnesota Brownfields
Environmental Initiative - Home