GreenStep Cities

GreenStep Cities Opportunities

This page lists current opportunities for resources, funding, and technical assistance to help cities go deeper with the best practices. This page will be updated as new offerings become available.

Brownfields + Health Planning Tool

Opportunity: Revitalizing brownfield sites offers an opportunity for communities to spur economic growth, resolve neighborhood blight, increase community connectivity, restore ecological balance and promote public health. The benefits are tremendous, but often the task of transforming these sites into productive community assets can present challenges, including the complicated process of identifying and prioritizing the redevelopment strategies that will best meet the long-term needs of the environment and community. Minnesota Brownfields and the Minnesota Department of Health have developed a Brownfield and Health Indicator Tool to help community planners, landscape architects, developers and community leaders overcome this challenge.

The Brownfield and Health Indicator Tool incorporates a series of indicators that address community health factors and aims to streamline project decision-making process by providing a framework for stakeholders to identify and prioritize redevelopment goals. Designed as a self-guided tool by those who influence and work on brownfield projects, the Brownfield Health Indicator Tool’s framework supports existing project decision-making processes. To access the Brownfield Health Indicator Tool, visit “Brownfield Health Indicator Tool“ or Brownfields and Public Health. To learn more about the tool’s launch and current pilot project by the City of Duluth, click here.

Contact: Natalie Brown, Program Manager at Minnesota Brownfields


GreenStep Cities Workshop Series

Opportunity: These workshops delve into topics related to the best practices of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program.. We finished up the 2016-2017 series on June 7th with a workshop on pollinators and local food (Best Practice 27). Click here to see resources from June’s workshop and the rest of this year’s series. Workshops will resume in September 2017.

Timing: These workshops will be held the first Wednesday of every month from 9:00am to 11:00am (September through June) at the League of Minnesota Cities building in Saint Paul. Attend in person or via webinar!

Contact: Have an idea for a workshop topic? Interested in sponsoring a workshop? Contact Abby Finis


Climate Vulnerability Assessment July 2017 Workshop

Opportunity: Minnesota is facing the challenge of a rapidly changing climate. Local approaches to Climate Vulnerability Assessment can identify the sensitivity of communities/systems to climate change impacts and provide strategies for mitigation and adaptation. With the current comprehensive planning process in full swing, this workshop provides an opportunity for a policy-driven approach to this work. Shalini Gupta will describe the nexus of environmental crises and our economic and social history. You will leave with policy and implementation strategies for climate assessment work, a greater understanding of the importance of community engagement around this work, and an opportunity to get started, get unstuck, and take your project to the next level. The workshop will also include key takeaways around communication/buy-in, building and retaining resource capacity, and the importance of accessing relevant data to ensure a complete and practical assessment. Facilitated by Eric Wojchik, Metropolitan Council Senior Planner and Kelly Muellman, AICP, City of Minneapolis Sustainability Coordinator. 2.25 CM credits.

Click here to register.

Timing: Friday, July 21st from 9:30 Am to 12:00 PM at Silverwood Regional Park, Great Room, 2599 County Road E, in St. Anthony


SolSmart Program

Opportunity: Earn visibility as a solar leader from the U.S. Department of Energy while completing GreenStep Cities best practices! SolSmart is a national recognition and a no-cost technical assistance program for local governments designed to drive greater solar deployment and help make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access affordable and renewable solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Click here for an overview of how SolSmart and GreenStep Cities relate to each other and how your work on GreenStep Cities can help you become a SolSmart designated community.

SolSmart supports the goals of the US DOE SunShot Initiative to make it faster, cheaper, and easier to go solar.

Timing: Ongoing

Contact: Visit the SolSmart homepage to learn more about the program. Kathryn Phillips at the Great Plains Institute can help you get your application started:


National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

Opportunity: The national challenge for water conservation is back for its 6th year. Does your city have what it takes to win? The Wyland Foundation’s Annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation held every Earth Month (April 1-30) is a competition that encourages cities across the nation to see who can be the most water wise by asking their residents to take a series of informative, easy to use pledges online to conserve water, energy and other natural resources. The non-profit campaign is presented nationally by Toyota and the Wyland Foundation, in association with NLC, EPA Office of Water, U.S. Forest Service, the Toro Company, Bytelaunch, Inc., Wondergrove Kids, and mayors and water agencies across the country.

For more information, visit this website:


Free service of a youth crew available statewide this summer to install your community’s green infrastructure project and strengthen local climate resilience

Opportunity: MPCA has provided a grant to Conservation Corps Minnesota to provide summer youth crews at no cost to Minnesota communities. There is a total of 25 days available to allocate among all interested communities during 2017. Crews will assist local communities with installation of green infrastructure or other permanent improvements to public property that strengthen community connectedness and local resilience to Minnesota’s changing climate.

Eligible projects include prep and planting of resilient tree and shrub species, rain gardens, boulevard swales, and native/adapted perennial and pollinator gardens; building and planting gravel-bed tree nurseries; making improvements to park buildings, structures and installations; and other such projects on public land. Projects can provide a community amenity, protect water quality, improve local air quality, address localized flooding, and reduce urban heat. Maintenance-only projects such as invasive species removal are not eligible except as prep work for a planting project that also involves the crew.

Communities will be responsible for the cost and procurement of project materials (plants or structural materials) and supplies (such as soil and mulch). Recipient communities are expected to provide sufficient watering to establish plants, and to maintain the site in subsequent years as a permanent amenity.

Projects must request at least one full day for a crew of 6-8 high school youth and 2 young adult leaders. Multi-day projects are welcomed. The crew stays in the field for a month spending nights at campgrounds or similar facilities in the communities where they serve. Transportation and food for the crew and all necessary light equipment also are provided by Conservation Corps Minnesota.

Expressions of interest will be considered as they are received, until enough projects are sufficiently finalized to reserve all the available crew days. The timeframe for youth crew installation of resilience projects is the last week in June until mid-August. If you have a potential project that may fit this opportunity, please email an expression of interest with a brief description of the project concept to Laura Millberg (

Find out more here


How to Incorporate Energy and Climate Resilience into the City RFP Process

Opportunity: When local governments update their Comprehensive Plans, they often seek outside consulting services to provide assistance for the Plan. Before hiring consultants, communities develop an RFP, which can be an important tool for cities to clearly state their goals for the Comprehensive Plan. Because energy and resilience are new subjects for local governments, it is especially important for cities that wish to include these topics in the comprehensive plan to make it clear just what they are asking for. The Great Plains Institute developed the following document to demonstrate how to incorporate energy and/or climate resilience into the RFP process, using a basic RFP outline that includes these sections: Overview, Goals, Scope, and Qualifications.

Click here to view the RFP assistance document

Contact: If you have questions, contact Brian Ross ( or Abby Finis (


Citizens Utility Board Presentation by Request

Opportunity: CUB of Minnesota Outreach Director Carmen Carruthers is scheduling presentations and utility bill clinics for this spring and summer. Our staff can help attendees understand their utility bills, highlight ways to reduce energy costs, explain options to get renewable power, and make people aware of programs and rebates for which they might be eligible. Presentations can be customized to the local utilities and the specific interests of each group.

Timing: Ongoing

Contact: Find out more, and contact Carmen if you’re interested in requesting a speaker: 612-568-5706 or


Green City Fleet Guide

Opportunity: The City of Elk River received a grant from the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (Metro CERT) to develop this guide to help cities create greener fleets. The guide focuses on electric vehicles, including information on different types of EVs, available financial incentives, and more.

View and download the guide here


FREE Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance for Local Governments

Opportunity: The Great Plains Institute is welcoming its third Minnesota GreenCorps Member: Katie Hosch! Katie’s work includes assisting local governments to track and reduce their energy use through energy efficiency measures. One of the main focuses of her work will be implementing the Energy Efficient Operations Manual, a web based tool that uses existing infrastructure within a building to minimize the building’s energy usage. Katie can also assist local governments with:

  • B3 benchmarking
  • Identifying opportunities for conservation and efficiency in buildings
  • Basic retrofitting of public structures
  • Helping to direct to the correct resources
  • Other general energy questions

Timing: Ongoing

Contact: Katie Hosch, phone: 612-767-7293, email:


Free Assistance Integrating Health (Especially Food!) and Equity into Comprehensive Plans

Opportunity: Eric Weiss — a community health planner with Blue Cross Blue Shield MN — and Nadja Berneche — a healthy comprehensive planning coordinator with Terra Soma — will be partnering with cities over the next 2.5 years to help them incorporate health (especially food) and equity into comprehensive plans. One of the tools they bring to cities is the Food Access Planning Guide, which provides resources, proven policy strategies, and recommended language for comprehensive plans.

Timing: Ongoing

Contact: Nadja Berneche, or 651-968-3899


Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator

Opportunity: Minnesota wastewater treatment plants can get help to achieve energy efficiency through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is a program partner and will help facilitate assistance. According to the DOE, “The Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator will work over three years with state, regional, and local agencies that are engaging with water resource recovery facilities in their jurisdiction to accelerate a pathway toward a sustainable infrastructure of the future. The Accelerator aims to catalyze the adoption of innovative and best-practice approaches in data management, technologies, and financing for infrastructure improvement. Partners will seek to improve the energy efficiency of their participating water resource recovery facilities by at least 30% and integrate at least one resource recovery measure.”

Timing: Ongoing

Website: Learn more about the program benefits from the Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator Factsheet

Contact: To learn more or sign up, contact Commerce’s Lindsay Wimmer at or 651-539-1771.


Stormwater Project Funding Page

Opportunity: The MPCA’s Minnesota Stormwater Manual has a new page in 2016 with links to and summarizing funding from the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment, Federal Section 319, State Clean Water Partnership, State Clean Water Fund, Clean Water State Revolving Fund, watershed districts, and SWCDs.

Timing: Proposals are due at varying times each year.


Contact: GreenStep Best Practice Advisor Anne Gelbmann, MPCA: 651/757-2384,


Local Government Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing Tool Kit

Opportunity: Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners. PACE allows companies the opportunity to maintain a positive cash flow while investing in energy upgrades at no cost to taxpayers. Check if your city or county participates in the PACE program, if it does not learn how to get your community involved! If your city or county already participates in the program check out the PACE Tool Kit to promote the program in your city to help your local businesses make the most of this awesome clean energy financing tool!

Timing: Ongoing Availability

Website: Learn more about PACE and download tools to promote the program or see how you can take advantage of this financing tool:

Contact: To learn more about the program or set up an educational presentation for your local government contact Peter Lindstrom with the Clean Energy Resource Teams


Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program

Opportunity: Minnesota Brownfields supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) national Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program. Minnesota Brownfields is a designated state partner for Minnesota with Kansas State University. TAB assistance is tailored to the specific needs of a community and is usually coordinated through the city, tribal or non-profit brownfields project manager.

Timing: Ongoing Availability


Contact: Natalie Brown, Program Coordinator,


Intern Manual

Opportunity: The GreenStep Cities program has developed a manual to provide an internship framework so that cities and university/college students can independently replicate this program to kick start a city’s record keeping and action planning.

Timing: Continuously available

Website: PDF Available for Download

Contact: Lissa Pawlisch, Clean Energy Resource Teams, or 612-624-2293