Farmington is near a milestone in GreenSteps program
Farmington is just a few steps away from being a Step 3 Minnesota GreenStep city.
Really, what all of that means is that Farmington is on its way to earning state recognition for its sustainability efforts. What's more, finishing these few items could help bring new business to Farmington.
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to help cities promote sustainability goals in the public, private and residential parts of their communities. GreenStep outlines 28 action items for cities to accomplish these goals. As more action items are completed the cities move up a step.
Farmington city planner Lee Smick got involved in the program in January, not long after realizing Farmington had already achieved several of the goals without setting out to do so. Now, the community is just short of completing 16 of the action items, which qualifies the community as a Step 3 GreenStep city.
What it means
Smick said being named a GreenStep city is a big deal. It means Farmington will be recognized as a community that has taken strides to increase its sustainability and to enhance its economic development potential.
"I think we have worked very hard on our environmental and economic initiatives," Smick said.
Earning the designation could open the door for Farmington to receive grants, and Smick hopes it will help attract new business.
One of the action items to be completed, called Green Business Development, involves creating small incubator spaces where a business can start and. It means streamlining the permit process, which Farmington already does by turning around permits within a 30-day window. It means working up a "buy local" campaign, as well.
"There's also a possibility for workforce training with community colleges and job forces, where we can get them to come to Farmington to work," Smick said.
One action item is geared toward making public buildings more energy efficient. Farmington is well on the way, she said, since city hall was designed to be as energy efficient as possible. Still, there are other municipal buildings that need to be upgraded. Those will be put on a to-do list to help reach that goal.
The last action item is based on community engagement, in other words, helping to educate residents on energy efficiency and how they can incorporate those practices in their homes. Initially, Smick said, the city will use its newsletter and the city's website to reach residents with those tips. The city might eventually offer workshops on energy efficiency.
As each action item is completed, Smick logs the results on the Minnesota GreenStep Cities website.
"We're being green, we're being a sustainable city, and that's what we need to move toward," she said.