10 Years of GreenStep

Isanti building a sustainable community for future generations

10 Years of GreenStep

 

Now in its 10th year, Minnesota GreenStep is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help cities and tribal nations achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals.

Pazey Yang, GreenStep intern at the Environmental Quality Board, connected with Sheila Sellman, Community Development Director with the City of Isanti. Isanti has been part of the GreenStep program since 2015 (see their progress).

 

GreenStep is a good program that brings awareness and helps get the funding to make Sustainability a priority.

Sheila Sellman, Community Development Director with the City of Isanti

Among many achievements since joining GreenStep Cities, Isanti is most proud of a couple actions: retrofitting to LED lights and reducing spending on natural resources. The majority of Isanti’s facilities have been retroffied due to the funding provided by this action. Sheila Sellman, the GreenStep Coordinator for Isanti states that, “...without GreenStep we wouldn’t have had the funding opportunity.”  

See Best Practice Actions for more information on installing lighting upgrades (1.2).

The GreenStep Cities program has also helped Isanti with promoting awareness in their community. The program has assisted in making this a priority when it comes to caring about being environmentally sustainable in regards to how city money is spent. There are actions that community members  can see such as Isanti’s one acre rain garden and the implemented rain garden program; however, there are also actions that go unseen. There is a large section of the city coupled with an advanced treatment stormwater quality management system that assists in removing over 90% total suspended solids as calculated by using the MIDS calculator. It is clear that invisible benefits are just as impactful to the community even though residents may not know about them. 

See Best Practice Actions for more information on installing and incentivizing rain gardens (17.5) and using the MIDS calculator (17.1). 

Even so, reaching the city’s current sustainability goals have not always been easy to kickstart. Success comes after jumping over a few obstacles. In Isanti’s case, “The biggest barrier was the time allocation for staff at the beginning, which could be overwhelming to a small city like Isanti that doesn’t have staff,” says Sellman. 

Despite challenges that this setback has caused, the city remains successful as they strive to continue doing well at Step 5. When asked if Sellman would recommend the GreenStep program to other communities, the response was “Yes, GreenStep is a good program that brings awareness and helps get the funding to make Sustainability a priority.” 

Isanti award photos

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Minnesota GreenStep Cities: A Decade of Growth

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