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Sustainability Snapshot: The Metropolitan Airports Commission

July 26th, 2017

Every quarter, the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition holds meetings with more than 30 members to discuss updates, our three focus areas (renewable energy, clean water, and organics), and ultimately how we’re working toward a circular economy through sustainability.

Working toward a “circular economy” is still a wonky concept to many folks, but something that’s a little easier to wrap our heads around are on-the-ground sustainability efforts by our members. Together, we’re working to combine these efforts, and the minds behind them, to make transformative results possible. In other words, no one business alone can transform the way we see waste, water, or energy.

Each business and organization in the Coalition is simply building on their existing sustainability efforts by working together to create a cumulative impact.

In our last meeting, we got to know what one of our members, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), is currently doing in their sustainability operations—and what they bring to the table for collective action. Walking through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), we all got to know the ways the MAC is saving water, promoting local business, and meeting customer needs.

SUSTAINABILITY AT MSP

Restroom Retrofits

The MAC is in the process of redesigning all MSP restrooms with the environment and patrons in mind. The estimated water savings from the restrooms redesigned to date is approximately seven million gallons per year! Bathrooms also incorporate LED lighting, but use daylighting when possible.

The MAC has also taken measures to increase accessibility to those with disabilities, such as speaker and thermal cues when a restroom is closed for cleaning. They’ve also added four lactation rooms, one nursing room with one under construction, and service animal and pet relief rooms at MSP.

Local and Sustainable Businesses

The MAC features a variety of local and sustainable businesses within the airport, furthering their sustainability goals. Below are just a few of them.

  • Open Book: A collaboration between the Loft Literary Center, Milkweed Editions, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, this local non-profit offers MSP travelers an ever-changing selection of the latest books, as well as an eclectic assortment of gifts and artwork.
  • LoLo: This locally-owned, locally-operated restaurant in MSP changes 40% of its menu with change in seasons, and serves locally-sourced food and drink.
  • Angel Food Bakery and Doughnut Bar: The MAC sets goals for bringing in Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; this woman-owned bakery is one such business, serving amazing items made from locally-sourced ingredients
  • Hammer Made: This specialty men’s shop offers distinctive, limited-run shirts and accessories by a local designer. The limited runs reduce fabric use, and any extra fabric is used as shirt trim or made into boxer shorts.
  • Stone Arch: With a concept developed by a local Minneapolis team, Stone Arch offers numerous kinds of local craft beer in partnership with the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild

Organics

All concessionaires at MSP– in Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey– participate in the MAC’s MSP back-of-house organics composting program. The MAC was able to divert and compost 354 tons of organics in 2016 through partnership with MSP concessionaires. In addition, 91.4 tons of used cooking oil was recycled, and 1,520 tons of other material were recycled or diverted in 2016.

You can learn more about the MAC and MSP’s sustainability efforts by reading their 2016 sustainability report, available here »

Sam Hanson

POSTED BY:

Director, Sustainability Program

Minnesota Power: A Champion of Regional Success

July 20th, 2017

As we head out into these bright summer mornings, many of our thoughts turn north—toward cabins, lakes, forests, fishing, boats and hammocks. Much of my work at Environmental Initiative takes place in northern Minnesota, so as my thoughts go north, I am also grateful for those who champion clean air in that part of the state, like Minnesota Power.

Minnesota Power is a founding member of Clean Air Minnesota and its support has been critical to not only our air work as a whole, but Project Stove Swap and Project Green Fleet  specifically.

A PARTNER FROM THE BEGINNING

"Schoo Bus"At the beginning of Project Green Fleet, Minnesota Power was one of our first partners to help us work with a private school bus fleet. Right after the project was announced, Mike Cashin and Margaret Hodnik, now retired, of Minnesota Power offered their offices and arranged meetings with bus companies. Again and again, Mike and his colleagues were willing and eager to put their influence to work in support of the project to reduce bus emissions.

That local connection was key. After a meeting with Voyageur Bus Co. arranged by Minnesota Power, we got to work retrofitting buses in the Duluth area that summer, starting with the Voyageur fleet– the first private fleet to work with us. It would not have happened had our friends at Minnesota Power not been willing to take a risk and stick their necks out on our behalf.

TODAY: PROMOTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN NORTHERN MINNESOTA

Fast forward to today, and Minnesota Power’s steadfast, open-minded support continues. For years, partners in Clean Air Minnesota have known that wood stove swap-outs are a highly cost-effective means to reduce a variety of air pollutants. The only barrier has been a lack of funding to run a large-scale project in Minnesota. While these projects have taken place in many other states, they tend to be relatively short-term efforts that fade once the initial funds are expended.

Minnesota Power worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice to improve the way wood stove change-out programs could work, mirroring a long-term, public-private model. Minnesota Power worked with us to suggest that these programs could have more impact if they were constructed to run a bit longer and focus more on community building, thus providing an opportunity to leverage additional public and private resources to do even more work.

With Minnesota Power’s help, we convinced the federal agencies to take a chance on our model, now a full-scale wood stove change-out effort called Project Stove Swap. I’ve been spending quite a bit of my time on this for the last year and a half and the results have been promising, from the well-covered launch to the preliminary results. In just four months of running at scale, the project has already reduced more than 10 tons of particulate matter annually, the equivalent of taking over 180,000 cars off of the road every year.

THANK YOU

We wouldn’t have seen any of these results without Mike Cashin, Josh Goutermont, Nancy Norr, Randi Nyholm and others at Minnesota Power who were willing to listen to our ideas and stick with us in talking to agencies. Undoubtedly, this made their lives more complicated. But the reward for their commitment and their company’s support is a project that will produce economic, health and environmental benefits for years to come.


A note from Environmental Initiative:

In honor of Environmental Initiative’s 25th anniversary, members of our staff will take turns throughout the year highlighting the organization’s most influential and effective collaborators. We want to say thank you to the amazing people who help us achieve all we do.

Mikey Weitekamp

POSTED BY:

Senior Project Manager, Environmental Initiative

Member of the Month: CenterPoint Energy

July 6th, 2017

CenterPoint Energy is honored to be the July featured member of the month. We value our membership with Environmental Initiative and the important message it promotes about collaborating to improve the environment. CenterPoint Energy is passionate about contributing to a cleaner environment. We work to increase energy efficiency to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs for our customers through our Conservation Improvement Program offerings. Our company has operated in Minnesota for more than 150 years, providing safe, reliable natural gas and related services. CenterPoint Energy currently serves over 840,000 customers in more than 300 communities.

CenterPoint Energy has been offering conservation programs for nearly 30 years. We work with residential, commercial, and industrial customers to help them upgrade equipment, improve building envelopes, pursue efficient building designs and change customer behavior to reduce natural gas usage.

CenterPoint Energy’s conservation program energy savings surpassed the company’s savings goal last year by nearly 30 percent. In 2016, 2,006,014 dekatherms (dth) of natural gas was saved, the equivalent of removing about 23,185 passenger vehicles from the road for one year. The company’s energy conservation efforts have been highly successful and continue to exceed our energy conservation goals. These efforts not only improve the environment, but also provide a valuable service to our customers, allowing them to reduce their energy bills.

The success of our conservation program is due largely to a number of strategic partnerships with other utilities, cities, business associations, and non-profit organizations. “More people working collaboratively towards a similar goal is a great way to maximize potential.” said CenterPoint Energy director of energy efficiency, Todd Berreman.

One example of collaboration that helps make our conservation program successful is the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), a one-of-a-kind collaboration between CenterPoint Energy, the City of Minneapolis and Xcel Energy. This partnership between the City and its electric and natural gas utility providers was established to help Minneapolis reach its goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and increase participation and energy savings through utility conservation programs in the City. In 2016, the CEP was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the unique and cutting edge collaborative approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

CenterPoint Energy looks forward to many more years of membership with Environmental Initiative as we collaborate to achieve a cleaner environment.


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.

Brad Tutunjian

POSTED BY:

Vice President of Gas Operations, CenterPoint Energy
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