Coming to a city near you: A game plan for a greener community and a more competitive business environment. Minnesota GreenStep Cities is an action-oriented voluntary program offering a simple pathway to implementation of sustainable development best practices that focus on cost savings, energy use reduction, and innovation. Thirty-three cities across the state have opted in to the program since 2010, and that number is growing.
Participating cities select and implement strategies from a list of 28 best practices in five categories: transportation, buildings and lighting, environmental management, land use, and economic and community development.
“Among the best practices we’ve included are approaches for green business development, and creating business synergies in participating cities,” remarked Philipp Muessig, Minnesota GreenStep Cities program coordinator. “Improved energy efficiency in private buildings is also a key component.”
Minnesota Energy Smart is one resource for businesses interested in making improvements like these that offer measurable business benefits. When a business reduces its operating costs through more efficient lighting and HVAC, for example, the money saved can be used to increase the quality of products and services, invest in new technologies, or add employees—giving that business an advantage over a competitor in a nearby town.
Muessig noted that business leaders can help shape a city’s GreenStep plans. Municipalities are encouraged to offer financial or regulatory incentives for actions such as using energy efficient building standards. It’s an opportunity for companies to develop innovative approaches and realize competitive advantages.
“Business groups can approach their city councils about participating in this program,” Muessig said, adding that business leaders in communities such as Austin and Elk River are already working to advance the GreenStep Cities initiative.