2009 Finalists & WINNERS

Congratulations to the finalists and winners of the 2009 Environmental Initiative Awards. Read more about them below.

Energy and Climate Protection


Minneapolis Climate Change Micro Grants Initiative
In 2007, Minneapolis became the first city in the nation to award grants encouraging residents and businesses to take immediate, meaningful, and measurable steps toward reducing their carbon footprints. These Climate Change Grants are part of the City’s Sustainability Initiative and address its commitment to the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community. To date, the City has awarded 50 grants in amounts from $1000 to $10,000 and the grants are expected to continue in 2009.


Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) and Xcel Energy Industrial Process Efficiency CIP Program
MCES operates the Minneapolis-St. Paul regional wastewater treatment system in the Twin Cities. Rising energy costs and a desire to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions caused MCES to become an early adopter of Xcel’s Industrial Process Efficiency Program. This partnership has put MCES on track to achieve a 15% energy reduction goal by 2010, and its reduced energy use from 2006 to 2008 alone has prevented the release of an estimated 14,450 tons of carbon dioxide into the environment. This is a long term relationship that is delivering an integrated approach promising sustainable energy savings into the future.

Southeast Como Improvement Association’s (SECIA) Solar Thermal Pilot Project
This solar thermal pilot project was developed to demonstrate that retrofitting existing households is not as difficult as perceived and can be accomplished affordably by recruiting enough households to buy in bulk. An apartment building owner and 16 homeowners participated, and numerous partners including Innovative Power Systems, the City of Minneapolis, Center for Energy and Environment, and others made this a project that succeeded with limited resources, providing a template for other communities to follow.

Environmental Education


Meet Me in the Garden
A community garden located on an organic farm near Moorhead, Minnesota, is providing environmental education at no cost for 250 to 650 children (preschool to teens) who take part in hands-on learning every summer and fall. The children learn soil science, organic gardening, basic nutrition, and much more, including how to become environmental stewards. The garden produces at least 1,000 pounds of vegetables that are donated every year to low income families, seniors in assisted living, and to homeless shelters.


Minnesota Student Energy Project (MNSEP)
MNSEP is a coalition of students from Mayo, Century, John Marshall, and Dover-Eyote High Schools in Olmsted County who are working closely with local business and the community at large to install photovoltaic systems at each of their schools. At Mayo High School, the students have already installed 27 solar panels for a total system size of 5.832 kW, and plan to next install a data acquisition system in a science room to provide learning opportunities about renewable technologies. MNSEP is unique in that it is student initiated, organized and operated (it was not started by a school district or other authority), and it has turned into an entire community movement that has attracted the attention of other schools within the state.

YEA! MN: Engaging High School Youth in Climate Leadership
YEA! MN is a network of high school environmental clubs working together across the Twin Cities metro area that connects, engages, and empowers youth to create environmentally clean, just and sustainable communities. There are 30 high schools in the YEA! MN network from a cross-section of urban and suburban districts. YEA! MN provides resources for student environmental clubs, and contacts for potential speakers and trainers. During the 2008-09 school year, YEA! MN will run the Clean Communities Campaign, focusing on supporting clean energy initiatives in Minnesota high school communities. The organization also provides environmental service-learning projects, forums with policy makers, and other opportunities to take part in climate action.

green building and development


Building Operator Certification
Building Operator Certification (BOC) is a competency-based training and certification program for operations and maintenance staff working in commercial, institutional, or industrial buildings. The BOC training curriculum consists of seven courses with a special focus on energy-efficient building operations and maintenance. BOC is unique because it achieves measurable energy savings by training individuals who are directly responsible for day-to-day operations. Building operators using the procedures learned in BOC training can cut electricity use by 15% or more. 


Minnesota GreenStar Green Homes and Remodeling
Minnesota GreenStar is a leading green building standard and certification program for Minnesota-based residential remodeling and new home projects. It provides a holistic, understandable way to assess residential design, construction practices, product selection, and homeowner involvement across five green principles. Trained building science professionals provide consultation and inspections before, during, and after a project. Since its launch in mid-2008, Minnesota GreenStar has trained nearly 400 design professionals, builders, remodelers, realtors and more on the principles of green building. More than 100 projects are registered and under construction.

Sherburne County Legacy Grant
The Sherburne County Legacy Grant awards up to $1 million each year to cities and townships whose building or construction projects use at least 25% post consumer recycled materials. By encouraging cities and townships to use post consumer recycled materials in their building projects, the county improves markets for recycled materials and reduces the amount of waste being brought to area landfills. To date, three Legacy Grants have been awarded to: Santiago Township for the construction of a multi-purpose facility; Big Lake Township for the construction of an addition to their town hall; and the City of Elk River for the construction of a new YMCA.

Green Business and Environmental Management


National Wind: Developing Utility-Scale, Community-Owned Wind Partnerships in Minnesota
National Wind, LLC, is a Minneapolis-based community wind energy developer that has partnered with seven rural communities in Minnesota to build clean, renewable wind energy developments across the state. These partnerships will provide more than 1300 megawatts of wind energy and involve over 1,000 landowners and more than 450 local owners. By creating broad opportunities for community ownership and involvement, each partnership encourages widespread support of wind energy development. National Wind’s approach has demonstrated that large-scale community projects can effectively compete with corporate wind farms, and it is a model for wind energy development that encourages fast project completion of clean energy resources that benefit entire communities.


April 2008 E-Waste Events Partnership
In April, 2008, Twin Cities residents took advantage of this free, two day, five location electronics recycling event. The event was created to provide a way for households to responsibly recycle their waste electronics, keep that material out of area landfills, and raise awareness of proper e-waste management. Over 42,000 Minnesotans participated, providing more than 6 million pounds of e-waste that filled over 400 semi trailers. The e-waste was processed at Waste Management’s Minneapolis processing facility, generating Minnesota jobs and tax revenue. This was a first in the nation event, and demonstrated that large e-waste recycling events are a workable and viable method of addressing e-waste.

Metro Metals Underground Storm Water Management Systems
Metro Metals needed to manage storm water containing dirty sediments on its site where it conducts scrap recycling of automobiles. Its innovative solution uses shredded tires (Recycled-Tire Engineered Aggregate) to retain storm water in an underground water safe. This design required minimal excavation, was inexpensive to construct and maintain (compared to traditional systems of buried culverts and vaults), and provided a beneficial reuse of discarded tires that otherwise would have been burned as a fuel supplement. This is a cost-effective, proactive approach that other scrap businesses can adopt to mitigate the storm water impacts of their operations.    

Natural Resource Protection and Restoration


Burnsville Surface Water Treatment Plant Project
Rapid growth of the Twin Cities southwestern metropolitan area has placed heavy demands upon the Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer, a groundwater source used by the cities of Burnsville and Savage. Drawing down the aquifer puts at risk two very rare calcareous fens and a spring fed trout stream. The Burnsville Surface Water Treatment Plant Project addresses this problem by recovering groundwater discharging into the Kraemer Mining and Materials Inc. quarry for potable use by both Burnsville and Savage. The Treatment Plant will conserve at least 4 million gallons of groundwater per day that would otherwise be pumped from wells. The recovered water has spared the two cities the cost of drilling added wells to meet demand, and has reduced the use of wells closest to the threatened fens. 


Bridal Veil Open Space
Bridal Veil Falls in Minneapolis contained pentachlorophenol (PCP), a wood preservative collected upstream from groundwater flowing from a Superfund site and from runoff in industrialized areas of the city. In addition, soils in the Bridal Veil Open Space were contaminated with metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins/furans. These conditions created an unacceptable human health risk in a popular park. Contaminated soil was removed, a wetland was created that provides bioremediation of PHP and storm water retention, and improvements upstream reduced exposure to heavily contaminated areas. Concentrations of PCP in surface water have been substantially reduced and a natural area has been enhanced.

Re-invest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Program 2008 Partnership
This partnership of RIM and NRCS resulted in the premier private wetlands restoration program in the nation. RIM and NRCS were able to leverage $19.1 million of Wetlands Reserve Program funding and launched the restoration of 9,775 acres of wetlands and adjacent grasslands. These lands will provide enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, protect and improve water quality, reduce soil erosion (by being placed in easement), sequester carbon and have the potential for future biofuel production.

Partnership of the Year


Re-invest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Program 2008 Partnership
This partnership of RIM and NRCS resulted in the premier private wetlands restoration program in the nation. RIM and NRCS were able to leverage $19.1 million of Wetlands Reserve Program funding and launched the restoration of 9,775 acres of wetlands and adjacent grasslands. These lands will provide enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, protect and improve water quality, reduce soil erosion (by being placed in easement), sequester carbon and have the potential for future biofuel production.

Past Finalists and Winners

2015 Awards Finalists and Winners »

2014 Awards Finalists and Winners »

2013 Awards Finalists and Winners »

2012 Awards Finalists and Winners »

2011 Awards Finalists and Winners »

2010 Awards Finalists and Winners »

2009 Awards Finalists and Winners »


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Awards Sponsorships »

Presenting Sponsors

Environmental Lay Group

Great River Energy

Reception sponsor

25th Anniversary Sponsors


Community Action

Critical Collaborator

Stoel Rives LLP

Emerging Leader


Energy and Climate

The Weidt Group

Natural Resources

Sustainable Business

Supporting Sponsors

Minnesota Power

partner SPONSORs

In-kind sponsors


CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Consulate General of Canada

Rochester Public Utilities

Associate Sponsors

Bremer Bank
G & K Services
Nova Consulting
Smith Partners