10 Years of GreenStep

Shoreview's sustainability work creates ripple effect across community

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.

Diana McKeown, Metro CERT Director at Great Plains Institute, connected with Ellen Brenna, Natural Resources Coordinator with the City of Shoreview. Shoreview has been part of the GreenStep program since 2013 (see their progress).

The program as a whole allows the city to show its dedication to sustainability across a wide variety of metrics.

Ellen Brenna, Natural Resources Coordinator with City of Shoreview

What action are you most proud of since joining GreenStep Cities?

Ellen Brenna: I would say that Shoreview is most proud of advancing through the GreenStep Cities program to Step 5. The program as a whole allows the city to show its dedication to sustainability across a wide variety of metrics; and the fact that we were able to continue to dedicate staff time to advance and become a Step 5 city over a number of years shows the continued commitment of our leadership and staff to making Shoreview operations more sustainable.

Learn more about Steps 4 and 5 metric reporting.

What has the Greenstep Cities program helped the City of Shoreview achieve?

Ellen Brenna: GreenStep Cities has helped Shoreview achieve its goals in a variety of areas. From water conservation, to urban forest preservation, to renewable energy implementation. Having a recognition program available gave us more of a push to complete these projects, and once we achieved the first few steps, there was even more of a drive to keep going. Now, Shoreview doesn't want to lose its Step 5 designation, so we make sure to improve on enough metrics each year. Sometimes this means doing projects or taking steps forward that we might not have considered without the help of the GreenStep Cities program.

See Best Practice Actions for more information on water conservation (15.4), urban forest preservation (16.5), and renewable energy implementation (26.5).

Can you describe a barrier that you had to overcome to achieve a GreenStep Cities action?

Ellen Brenna: I think the biggest barrier Shoreview has run into with the GreenStep program is working it into the already full schedules of our staff members. The city does not have a dedicated GreenStep staff member and therefore asks staff from departments all across the city to help with reporting and implementing new metrics for Step 5. This was especially a challenge in the beginning, and sometimes still can be. Staff time is stretched thin already, and it can sometimes be difficult to express to those with full schedules how important the GreenStep Cities program and sustainability efforts are—especially when things have been working fine as-is. But here in Shoreview, we've found that everyone is mostly supportive of the program and its initiatives. Once reporting for GreenStep Cities became an annual occurrence, staff members were more able to incorporate that work into their schedules with more regularity. That has helped quell the surprise and frustration that used to occur when metrics data requests were issued.

What GreenStep Cities actions is Shoreview currently working on?

Ellen Brenna: We are most excited about our current energy work. For electric vehicles specifically, we are installing public charging stations at city property and have entered into a study with Xcel Energy to evaluate 12 city fleet vehicles to see if their current drive load would be possible with an electric alternative. Staff is hoping to be able to incorporate electric vehicles into the Shoreview fleet soon! We are also undertaking a large tree planting project at the Shoreview Commons this year, with over 100 new trees being planted, as well as a large public flower garden. 

See Best Practice Actions for more information on public EV charging infrastructure (23.5), city electric vehicle fleets (13.3), and tree planting (16.4).

What are Shoreview’s next steps?

Shoreview was fortunate enough to have made it to Step 5 in 2019. Going forward, we hope to maintain that status indefinitely. That requires improvement each year across several set metrics. It's a lofty goal, considering many of the "low hanging fruit" so to speak, has already been accomplished here. But Shoreview leadership and staff are open to new ideas and willing to put in the work, so we're confident we can achieve this goal.


Minnesota GreenStep Cities: A Decade of Growth

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