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Posts Tagged ‘Water’

Rice Creek Commons is Common Sense— Meet the Natural Resource Winners

April 25th, 2017

The Natural Resources category award is given to collaborative efforts that implement sustainable solutions to preserve, protect, or restore Minnesota’s land, water, biological diversity, and other natural resources.

In the land of 10,000 lakes, you can see why recognizing efforts to restore waterways and landscapes is so important.

Ramsey County, the City of Arden Hills, Wenck Associates, Inc. and many other partners are currently working to restore a piece of polluted land that has been around since World War II: The Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.

AMMUNITION PLANT TO  VIBRANT COMMUNITY

 

 

Four years ago, Ramsey County purchased a contaminated parcel of land in Arden Hills with the goal of making it a community asset. The land once held the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant, built to manufacture small arms ammunition during World War II, and had sat dormant for nearly four decades. Partnering with the City of Arden Hills, the county began redeveloping the brownfield into a livable space for homes and businesses.

Over a 32-month period, existing buildings were demolished, and the soil was remediated to residential standards. We removed hazardous waste and recycled or reused materials like concrete and asphalt. This past summer, the county collaborated with the Rice Creek Watershed District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to transform Rice Creek, which runs through the site, back to its original, meandering path and stabilize it with surrounding trees and plants.

With the site demolished and soil restored to residential standards, infrastructure construction is set to begin this year. Soon Rice Creek Commons (named after the site’s stream) will be a walkable, vibrant commercial and residential development, creating economic and social opportunity for Arden Hills and the region.

FROM THE PROJECT PARTNERS

“When the county purchased the land, it was the largest superfund site in Minnesota. The large cost and difficulty associated with cleaning up the site had discouraged previous developers for many years. Because the property presented unique challenges, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners recognized the land would probably stay polluted and empty for many more years unless they took action.

The project is also unique in that Ramsey County is a fully developed county. With few opportunities to grow and increase the area’s tax base, developments like Rice Creek Commons present an important opportunity for economic development.” – Heather Worthington, Deputy County Manager

“I’m proud that this project respects the history of the site and what was there before. Redeveloping the area is about honoring its past and making it a safe, economic engine once again.” – Heather Worthington, Deputy County Manager

Read the Pioneer Press piece: A cheer for Rice Creek Commons »

CELEBRATE THIS EFFORT

Join us on Thursday, May 25 to congratulate and celebrate these project partners, their positive environmental outcomes, and the lasting benefit of collaboration. To shake things up, we’re also honoring three individuals in honor of our 25th anniversary, so it’s sure to be a night of reflection and festivities for Minnesota’s environmental community. Purchase your tickets or tables here »

 


A note from Environmental Initiative:
In honor of Environmental Initiative’s 25th Anniversary, four organizational and two individual awards will be presented on May 25, 2017 at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Get your tickets before they’re gone »

Damian Goebel

POSTED BY:

Communications Director

Growing Clean Water at the ACES Conference

December 14th, 2016

There’s been a lot happening in Environmental Initiative’s Agriculture and Environment program lately—I mean a lot. Field Stewards continues to build momentum and we’ve been hard at work bringing together agricultural interests to talk about and collaborate on creating new opportunities to improve water quality.

ACESBecause of Environmental Initiative’s work to promote market solutions for clean water through Field Stewards, I was asked to speak at the ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services conference in Jacksonville, Florida, which was held last week. Besides having the opportunity to share our work with an exciting, growing community of practitioners, I got to learn from others around the country on how to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making in ecosystem services. (The term “ecosystem services” is meant to describe the ways humans benefit from functioning ecosystems. Pollination is an example of an ecosystem service).

ACES 2016 brought together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American tribes, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in environmental decision making and practice.

MY THREE TAKEAWAYS

1. The science is there (mostly). Ecosystem services is a way of looking at how natural processes and landscapes contribute human health, economy, and quality of life. In recent years, the science and tools available for estimating ecosystem services have gotten much better and there is more confidence in how we are using them.

2. Agriculture has a huge role to play. If you want to have an impact, go work with farmers. But be ready to listen.download film Mother’s Day

3. Ecosystem services is a new way to make money. I heard from a speaker about how a custom made municipal bond that funded the creation of green landscapes in DC was bought by Goldman Sachs. Goldman didn’t invest because it looked good on their corporate sustainability report, they bought it because it made them money (sort of a big part of their business model).

Along with Paul Helgeson from GNP Company, I shared information about our Field Stewards program, particularly how the idea of a whole-farm, holistic approach to water quality protection is good for farmers, good for food companies, and good for the environment. We are doing things a little different with Field Stewards, and there is a lot of interest in how our approach can crack the nut of untraceable commodity crop supply chains. You can learn more about the ACES conference here »

Greg Bohrer

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

An Interview With Paul Helgeson: Sustainability Manager, GNP Company

April 19th, 2016

Environmental Initiative has a network of environmental leaders across all sectors of the economy – from businesses, all levels of government, nonprofits, academia, and more. In a new series, we’ll be interviewing environmental and sustainability leaders from our diverse community to share their passions and how they lead.

I’m kicking off the series with sustainability leader and Environmental Initiative board member, Paul Helgeson. Paul is currently the Sustainability Manager with GNP Company and is the founder and visionary behind the Field Stewards program.Greg interviewing Paul

To start us off, can you tell us a little bit about how you became sustainability manager at GNP Company?

I grew up in central Minnesota surrounded by the agricultural industry. My great-grandfather started what became Gold n’ Plump as one of hundreds of small hatcheries in Minnesota in the 1920’s.  For most of my life my dad was CEO and he, along with our team members, worked very hard to grow the company into the largest chicken company in the Upper Midwest.

This inspired me to pursue a business education and during my undergrad days I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. There I visited Carlsberg, the big beer company. This was my first exposure to a large company advocating for sustainability. Beverage companies had worked with the Danish government to put a high deposit on bottles. So those bottles were getting turned back in and Carlsberg was reusing them to bottle beer. This reduced litter, saving the government money, and saved Carlsberg from having to buy expensive new bottles. Seeing this win-win for business, government, and the people of Denmark sparked my interest in harnessing the profit motive of business to achieve social and environmental goals.

I remained interested in sustainability while earning my MBA from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota and working outside the company. When I joined GNP Company in 2010 I helped my family’s business to consider sustainability and together we developed the 4 P Framework: people, poultry, progress, and planet. We set aggressive planet goals for improving the resource efficiency of our operations and made a commitment to working with our supply chain.  During this time, I also helped develop the Field Stewards idea and I’m the liaison from GNP Company on the project.

For folks who haven’t heard about it before, how would you describe the Field Stewards project?

At the core, it’s a way to connect consumers and farmers who care about water quality.fieldstewards

Functionally, it is a certification and market system that recognizes and rewards farmers for their environmental protection efforts.  Food companies can buy certificates to offset some of the environmental impacts of their commodity crop inputs. The market system allows us to support farmers in our local area who have gone above and beyond the norm to protect water quality on their farms.

Consumers increasingly care about their food and how it was produced. The underlying sentiment is “Do the people creating my food share my values?” However, the commodity crop system isn’t set up for food companies to track sustainability at the farm level. Like a lot of food companies, we buy the grain used in our feed off of what is essentially an international commodity market.  The grain markets and the commodity crop systems are not designed for food companies or consumers to track on-farm sustainability practices.  So, we have no way to know what practices were used in the fields that our grain came from.

This is the opportunity for Field Stewards. It is a program that gives food-marketing companies like GNP Company the ability to create a more sustainable supply chain for their most critical inputs. (more…)

Greg Bohrer

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

Global Water Issues and Minnesota Business: Values, Risks, and Opportunities

March 31st, 2015

The Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region has been described by one CEO as the “Silicon Valley of Water” with a unique network of businesses, talent, and thought leadership well positioned to contribute solutions to regional and global water challenges.

Join the Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC) at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business on April 29 to hear from global water expert Dr. Peter H. Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute. Gleick integrates technical expertise on water and the environment with a profound commitment to social justice, human rights, and sustainability.

Two Minnesota executives will also share their insights on water risks and opportunities: Emilio Tenuta, Vice President of Sustainability at Ecolab, and Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills.

This event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

EVENT DETAILS

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Registration:  4:00 p.m.
Program: 4:30 p.m.
Networking Reception: 6:15 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Register »

Thornton Auditorium, Terrence Murphy Hall
University of St. Thomas – Minneapolis Campus
1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Map & Directions »

I hope you will join CEBC for this important conversation to explore global water perspectives and implications for Minnesota businesses. For more information about the event, speakers, or to register visit CEBC’s website.

David Rodbourne

POSTED BY:

Vice President, Center for Ethical Business Cultures - University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business

Weekly Wrap-Up – 10/11/13

October 11th, 2013

This week’s wrap-up is all about water – from scarcity, to treatment, to invasive species. What water issues should we be thinking about as we plan our events and projects? What water news caught your attention this week? Share with us here or connect with us on social media.

  1. Water from PolyMet mine site would require 500 years of treatment. (Duluth News Tribune)
  2. Microplastic waste is a problem for lakes as well as oceans. (Nature World News)
  3. Asian carp: Can we solve this invasive species problem? (MinnPost)
  4. United Nations chief warns of water scarcity worldwide. (Inter Press Service News Agency)
  5. Is White Bear Lake a symptom of larger water supply problems in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area? (MinnPost)
Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications

It’s Not Just About Minnesota Anymore

June 27th, 2013

On July 17-18 the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) will host its annual Environmental Health and Safety Compliance Excellence conference at General Mills Inc.’s headquarters in Minneapolis. As part of this event, the members of NAEM’s Upper Midwest chapter will take the opportunity to discuss how local, regional and global compliance issues affect Minnesota business. Here are a few of the issues I expect we’ll address at the chapter meeting next month:

Karen Yeadon

POSTED BY:

Manager - Environment, Health, & Safety at Emerson Process Management

Weekly Wrap-Up – 6/7/13

June 7th, 2013

With all the rain, this week’s wrap-up is all about water. What water stories have I missed? Drop me a note and let me know or leave a comment here.

  1. Did you know that 45 trillion gallons of water is used for the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year worldwide? (Minnesota Public Radio).
  2. U.S. water systems and infrastructure need $384 billion in improvements according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Bloomberg BNA).
  3. Great Lakes Governors discuss ways to better manage the economy and ecology of some of the world’s most important freshwater resources. (Editorial, The Detroit News).
  4. Rushing waters and rainbows at Grand Portage State Park. Check out this amazing video. (MinnPost)
  5. Dreaming of a family trip to the Boundary Waters? Here’s 10 ways to get your kids canoeing. (Sanborn Canoe Company)
Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications

What’s New at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair?

August 28th, 2012

Did you know the Eco Experience is the second most popular exhibit at the State Fair? (Second only to the Miracle of Birth Center). This is the seventh year the Eco Experience has been at the State Fair and it wouldn’t be possible without partnerships.

This exhibit is a partnership between the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota State Fair and more than 150 organizations and businesses across the state. This year all of the partners have done a great job pulling together the exhibit and we’ve brought in some new and exciting features. (more…)

Britt Gangeness

POSTED BY:

Eco Experience Coordinator, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Game On! Enter the Minnesota Idea Open Challenge II

June 29th, 2011

Minnesotans have good ideas—it’s time someone listened.  The Minnesota Idea Open brings everyday Minnesotans together to help solve our state’s most critical issues. This year the Idea Open is looking for answers to the question, “How would you use $15,000 to help your community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota?”

Challenge II aims to address the broad spectrum of water issues facing different communities across the state, including but not limited to:

  • Water quality
  • Conservation
  • Household usage
  • Watershed management
  • Invasive species
  • Recreation

The possibilities are endless! Now, it’s up to you to think about what water issue is facing your community, and how could you make a difference in moving the issue forward? This is the second Idea Open Challenge I have worked on, and I could not be more excited to see the range of ideas we will receive. (more…)

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