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.

GreenStep Cities Workshop Series

Opportunity: These workshops delve into topics related to the best practices of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program.

Topics in the 2017-2018 series so far have included Energy and Climate Data and Action Planning, Community Engagement, Waste Management and Recycling, Benchmarking Wastewater Treatment Plants, Electric Vehicle-Ready Communities, and Water Quality. Materials from previous workshops can be found here.

Timing: The March workshop will focus on Invasive Species. Click here to register.

Workshops are usually held the first Wednesday of every month from 9:00am to 11:00am (September through May) at the League of Minnesota Cities building in Saint Paul. Register here to attend 2017-18 series workshops in person or via webinar!

Contact: Have questions about the series? Interested in sponsoring a workshop? Contact Abby Finis


DNR Solicits 2018 Park and Trail Grant Applications

Opportunity: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division is accepting applications for the following grant programs: outdoor recreation, natural and scenic areas, regional trails, local trail connections and federal recreational trails. These grants help local governments throughout the state create partnerships with the DNR to fund projects such as local parks, regional trails and trail connections. The DNR anticipates that both federal and state funding will be available during 2018 for these programs.

For more information:
• Contact the grants staff listed online.
• Contact the DNR Information Center at or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

Timing: The application due dates are Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Federal Recreational Trail Grant Program and Friday, March 30, for the other programs. For information about eligible projects and how to apply for a grant, visit the recreation grants page of the DNR website at:


Environmental Assistance Grant Program

Opportunity: If you are a political subdivision located in Greater Minnesota, you may be eligible for a recycling or composting grant! The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is accepting applications under a Grant Request for Proposal (RFP) for Greater Minnesota recycling and composting projects. The RFP and all application materials can be found on the Environmental Assistance (EA) Program webpage.

The 2017 Minnesota Legislature allocated $2 million in funding for recycling and composting projects in political subdivisions in Greater Minnesota for Fiscal Years 2018 through 2021. The allocated funds were purposed for projects that focus on best practices for recycling or composting collection systems. All projects must be locally administered, have an educational component with measurable outcomes, and include one or more of the following elements:
• Establish curbside recycling or composting,
• Increase recycling or composting,
• Reduce the amount of recyclable materials entering disposal facilities, or
• Reduce the costs associated with hauling waste by locating collection sites as close as possible to the site where the waste is generated.

To be eligible for grants, a political subdivision must be located outside the seven-county metropolitan area and a city must have a population of less than 45,000. Projects demonstrating innovation and those benefiting communities with higher concentrations of low-income residents and people of color, including tribal communities, will be rated higher.

Timing: Applications are due no later than 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Click here to learn more.

Questions? If you experience difficulty in accessing the MPCA EA Program webpage or in electronically submitting your application, please contact the MPCA at using subject line: “EA Question” prior to the submittal deadline.

Solar Possible Kick-Off Event for State, Local Governments & Schools

Opportunity: More and more Minnesota local governments and schools are installing solar arrays on their facilities or property. Why? Installing solar can reduce utility bills, minimize environmental impacts, demonstrate leadership to the community, and provide a unique learning opportunity for residents and students. Solar Possible, a new Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) initiative, is a bulk buy initiative aimed at enabling state agencies, local governments and schools to utilize solar for their own facilities. Collaborative procurement is an effective approach to reduce barriers, learn together, and drive projects to successful completion. This initial effort will be geared toward jurisdictions in Xcel Energy territory. Attendees will learn more about the opportunity being proposed; how to participate; expected benefits and challenges; and next steps for interested local governments and schools.

Timing: The event will take place March 14, 2018 from 9:00-11:00am at Falcon Heights City Hall (2077 Larpenteur Avenue W., Falcon Heights MN). Register Online Here or Call 612-626-0555.


2018 Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Conference: Community Driven Clean Energy

Opportunity: How are you building your community’s clean energy future? Join hundreds of Minnesotans exploring their clean energy options at the CERTs 2018 Conference to (1) learn about new ideas, tools, and models; (2) connect with people from across regions and sectors; and (3) accelerate adoption of clean energy projects.

More and more communities, organizations, and individuals are trying to figure out how they can get energy efficiency and renewable energy projects done. The CERTs 2018 Conference provides the resources and connections needed to make it happen. Who wouldn’t want to save energy, cut costs, and be part of Minnesota’s fastest growing jobs sector?

Timing: The conference will take place March 28-29 at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, MN. Click here to learn more.


Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program

Opportunity: The Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) Grant Program funds conservation projects that restore, enhance, or protect forests, wetlands, prairies, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife in Minnesota. Funding for the CPL grant program is from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created by the people of Minnesota. $5,000 – $400,000 are available for projects that restore, enhance, or protect forests, wetlands, prairies, or habitat.

Timing: Applications will be accepted as late as May 2018. To learn more, click here.


Resources from EPA Office of Sustainable Communities

Local Foods, Local Places helps communities reinvest in existing neighborhoods and revitalize downtowns through the development of local food systems. To date, nearly 80 communities have benefited from assistance.

Healthy Places for Healthy People helps community leaders and health care partners focus on health as an economic driver and catalyst for downtown and neighborhood revitalization. Health care partners include community health centers (including Federally Qualified Health Centers), nonprofit hospitals, and other health care facilities. To date, 10 communities have benefited from assistance. The Healthy Places for Healthy People web page has short videos on our work in Corbin, KY, and Williamson, WV.

Local Foods, Local Places Toolkit: Based on the best practices and lessons learned from Local Foods, Local Places workshops, EPA developed the Local Foods, Local Places Toolkit to help communities interested in using local foods to support downtown and neighborhood revitalization. The toolkit provides step-by-step instructions for planning and hosting a community workshop and includes case studies and templates communities can adapt to their needs. Harlan, Kentucky, participated in the Local Foods, Local Places technical assistance program in 2017; listen to this podcast to hear how Harlan is working to grow the local food economy and revitalize downtown.

Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience: Changing Land Use and Building Codes and Policies to Prepare for Climate Change is a guide that describes specific changes communities could make to their land use and building policies to prepare for climate change while gaining other environmental, economic, health, and social benefits in the short and long terms.

Framework for Creating a Smart Growth Economic Development Strategy: A Tool for Small Cities and Towns is a step-by-step guide to building a place-based economic development strategy, intended for small and mid-sized cities, particularly those that have limited population growth, areas of disinvestment, and/or a struggling economy.


Warm Mix Asphalt – Technical Assistance

Opportunity: The US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5 out of Chicago, is seeking to work with local governments, private companies and other organizations that contract asphalt paving to reduce emissions from asphalt production through the use of Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA). WMA is an alternative to traditional Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) with equivalent performance at mixing temperatures 50-100 degrees F lower. WMA uses the same production equipment as HMA, but achieves lower temperatures through the addition of chemical or organic additives or water. WMA works as a compaction tool for contractors seeking to achieve contract densities faster and more easily. Adoption of WMA technology can reduce energy use by 20-30% along with odors and air emissions like “blue smoke” that are harmful to workers and neighbors, especially children and other vulnerable populations.

A regional U.S. EPA engineer, Dawid Kierys, is offering to provide technical assistance on using/ contracting for warm mix asphalt and in writing contract language to specify WMA for your road projects.

Interested? If you are interested in learning more, please contact Dawid Kierys at 312.353.7446 or


Technical and Financial Assistance Available for Sustainable Spirits through the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)

Opportunity: MnTAP’s current effort is to encourage more environmentally sustainable practices at microbreweries and micro distilleries by using a check list approach to initially identify opportunities for energy, water, waste and wastewater effluent cost savings and then maintain best practices in the future. MnTAP will assist 8-10 eligible companies with benchmarking, onsite technical assistance and implementation recommendations, including up to $500 in equipment. Eligible companies would be brewers producing < 20,000 bbl/yr and distillers producing < 40,000 bbl/yr.

Opportunity includes:
(1) No Cost assessment for 8-10 elgible microbrewery or micro distiller.
(2) Learn to set up a checklist approach to sustainable practices
(3) Up to $500 in free equipment to implement reduction ideas

How to Apply: Click here for more information and to apply.


$15 Million Available in Clean Water Partnership Loans

Opportunity: The Clean Water Partnership (CWP) program offers zero-interest loans to local units of government for implementing nonpoint-source best management practices and other activities that target the restoration and protection of a water resource such as a lake, stream, or groundwater aquifer.

Apply now for a CWP loan:
The MPCA is accepting applications for water resource projects to be funded through the CWP Loan Program. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; funding will be approved based on available loan funds. Over $15 million in funds are available for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and the maximum loan award for a project is $2 million.

Request for proposals:
Application forms and full details of this loan opportunity are found in the request for proposals : who may apply, funding priorities, activities eligible for funding, and other information that will help you plan your project and submit a complete application.

Timing: Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis. Visit the MPCA website for more information.


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


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