Sustainable Growth Coalition

 

More than ever before companies are driven to make meaningful, positive impacts that address complex environmental and social issues across the globe. Minnesota has a proud leadership history addressing these challenges, but we’ve reached a new tipping point – one that encourages us to bring our talents and expertise together to tackle issues from natural resource scarcity and risk to changing customer preferences.

Nearly 30 businesses and organizations form the Sustainable Growth Coalition, a business led partnership harnessing their expertise to advance the next frontier of corporate sustainability — the circular economy.

Circularity Toolkit Launched

The Circularity Toolkit provides guidance and real-life examples for businesses and organizations to approach solutions through a circular lens and systems change, furthering the business case for a resilient, circular economy.

Define the Circular Economy

Coalition members work together to build the vision and action steps required to achieve a fully realized circular economy.

Develop Projects and Initiatives

Determining projects that move Minnesota toward a circular economy, the Coalition will evaluate options through stakeholder, environmental, economic, social wellness, and life cycle lenses. Collaborative projects will advance clean energy, convert organic waste into valuable resources, and protect or restore the natural water cycle.

Tell Our Story

Our brand demonstrates a place that is safe, healthy, economically vibrant, and sustainable. Our brand and stories will advance the Coalition’s goals while retaining and attracting new talent to the region.

Focus areas

Clean Energy

The Sustainable Growth Coalition’s vision for a clean energy future is that Minnesota will be known for:

  • Surpassing the State of Minnesota’s current economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions targets of 30 percent reduction by 2025 and 80 percent reduction by 2050.
  • Increasing access to affordable, reliable, clean energy to improve racial, economic, social and public health outcomes.
  • Fueling economic growth for all.

Problem Statement

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that urgent measures must be taken in the next decade to reduce climate risks on society. Energy contributes significantly to the State of Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions and the State is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals. Action must be taken to decrease greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which threaten our natural resources, health and well-being, as well as business continuity and growth.

Business Case for Collective Action

Through clean energy strategies, the Sustainable Growth Coalition has the opportunity to make a substantial impact on greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a thriving economy and healthy equitable communities. Benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a clean-energy economy may include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing operational and supply chain costs and risks.
  • Creating new business models, products and services.
  • Meeting demand from customers, investors and employees.
  • Building a brand that elevates Minnesota as a great place to do business and live.
  • Growing job opportunities for all and attracting and retaining talent in Minnesota.
  • Improving quality of life.

To achieve this vision, the Sustainable Growth Coalition will focus on these key areas:

Focus Area

Rationale

Desired State

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Reducing energy consumption and managing demand lowers greenhouse gas emissions and saves money. Minnesota is the leader in energy conservation, productivity and managing demand.
Transition to Clean Energy A transition to lower-carbon and carbon-free fuels allows us to better achieve our goals and addresses the health and social impacts of energy production, storage, transportation and use. Minnesota has a low-carbon energy supply that leverages its renewable resources and optimizes distributed energy. Individuals and organizations have many opportunities to equitably participate in the clean-energy market transition.
Optimized Energy Systems Optimization of the energy system allows for greater innovation and resilience while increasing access to affordable, reliable clean energy. Minnesota is home to a modern energy system that makes effective and efficient use of our energy resources and infrastructure.
Electrification Electrification can present cost-effective emissions reductions that provide business and innovation opportunities and improve public health. Minnesota has minimized fossil fuel use and emissions through electrification.
Greenhouse Gas Capture and Use Greenhouse gas emissions are waste products from our energy system, but a circular economy will restore the natural carbon cycle and take advantage of opportunities to use greenhouse gases as beneficial inputs. Minnesota captures greenhouse gasses for long-term storage or beneficial use.

Water

The Sustainable Growth Coalition’s vision for a water future is Minnesota will be known as a leader that:

  • Provides safe, affordable and trustworthy water to advance public health and achieve social, racial and economic equity for all.
  • Uses water economically and efficiently for personal, community and business purposes across the water use and reuse cycle.
  • Ensures all water is high quality to maintain quality of life for which the state is known.
  • Increases knowledge about the water on which Minnesotans depend.

Problem Statement

In Minnesota, the challenges facing our extensive water resources vary locally across the state. Not all Minnesotans have access to clean, abundant and affordable water. As the headwaters of three major, international watersheds, the decisions we make affect millions of people locally and downstream: their health, well-being, livelihoods, and economic prosperity.  Action must be taken now to ensure clean, plentiful water is available, accessible and appropriately valued for all use into the future.

Business Case for Collective Action

The Sustainable Growth Coalition has the opportunity to substantially impact Minnesota’s water resources to ensure a thriving economy and healthy, equitable communities across the state. Benefits of improving water quality, quantity and access include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing operational and supply chain costs and risks.
  • Being ahead of and responsive to customer, consumer and investor demand.
  • Creating new business models, products and services.
  • Building a regional brand that elevates Minnesota as a great place to do business and live.
  • Growing job opportunities for all and attracting and retaining talent.
  • Improving quality of life.

To achieve this vision, the Sustainable Growth Coalition will focus on these key areas:

Focus Area

Rationale

Desired State

Quantity Decreasing consumption and ensuring long-term strategies for efficient, effective and economical water use and protection lowers costs, risks and associated carbon emissions. Water is being used economically and is properly valued to create a circular, sustainable water system. It is abundant enough to be used and re-used for purposes across the region, including for recreational, residential, agricultural and business needs.

Quality

Implementing and advancing effective, viable options for water quality protection and management ensures business, community, agricultural and residential needs are safeguarded for the long term and protects inputs for the short term. Using the right type of water for the right uses decreases costs. Across the state, Minnesota is the model for improving water quality through appropriate usage, protection and stewardship. Water is enjoyed, consumed, and trusted by all. Abundant, clean water contributes to increased quality of life for residents, natural resources/wildlife, a thriving economy and advances Minnesota’s status as a great place to live, work and visit.

Access

Access to an appropriate quantity and quality of water will ensure the health and well-being of our communities and ecosystems as well as thriving business operations and the reduction of risk. Talent recruitment and retention and workforce development benefits will result. Clean and abundant water can be accessed by all Minnesotans now and in the future, in an equitable and fair manner.

Projects

  • Corporate Guide to Sustainable Landscaping: Helps your organization decide what to do with undervalued landscapes and how to execute a project successfully. Includes case studies, learned experiences, and how to pitch a project internally.

Materials

The Sustainable Growth Coalition’s vision for materials system is that Minnesota will:

  • Eliminate the concept of waste.
  • Define and develop the workforce and infrastructure required for a circular economy.
  • Utilize materials in a manner that is regenerative and has net positive impacts.
  • Improve human health and well-being by advancing social, racial and economic equity.
  • Enable long-term prosperity for all and the availability of necessary materials for future generations.

Problem Statement

“While more food, energy and materials than ever before are now being supplied to people in most places, this is increasingly at the expense of nature’s ability to provide such contributions in the future.”1

Materials are undervalued and are part of a linear take-make-waste model, resulting in inefficient use and unsustainable consumption, which threatens natural resources, human health, well-being, business continuity and growth.

Business Case for Action

The Sustainable Growth Coalition has the opportunity to substantially impact resources to ensure a thriving economy and healthy, equitable communities. Benefits of maintaining and improving materials flows and resources include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing operational and supply chain costs and risks.
  • Being ahead of customer, consumer, and investor demand.
  • Creating new business models, products and services.
  • Building a regional brand that elevates Minnesota as a great place to do business and live.
  • Growing job opportunities for all and attracting and retaining talent.
  • Improving quality of life in Minnesota.

To achieve this vision, the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition will focus on these key areas:

Focus Area

Rationale

Desired State

Design for Circularity Reducing material utilization to maintain quality through product redesign will lower extraction, processing and resource usage. Through redesign, organizations can decrease long-term costs and risks while increasing resiliency. Minnesota is the leader in advancing circular design, meaning eliminating waste through innovative materials design, decreased materials consumption, and increased conservation.

Reuse or Repurpose

Reusing and repurposing materials decreases the need for (1) virgin, raw materials extraction and (2) resources for recycling (e.g. energy and water).  The benefits to organizations are numerous, including new local markets for re-use, reduction in the need for material transport and reduction in the amount of new materials needed to grow. No waste is created, meaning local markets exist for reusing and repurposing consumed, used, or disposed of materials in Minnesota. Minnesota is the leader in material reuse and circular innovation.

Recycle

Having a recycling process that supports a circular economy can leverage regional resources and markets, save on costs, optimize materials use throughout their lifecycle, and positively impact local economies. Recycling efforts will process materials at their highest value and utility, as locally as possible, reducing the need for additional sources of virgin materials.

Regenerate

Currently the majority of materials are not part of a circular model and are not returned to their original state. We should return materials to their original, or a better state of being, to increase their long-term value, utility and availability. In a truly circular economy, no materials recovery or waste-to-energy efforts would be needed. Our goal is to transition out of our recovery needs and eventually focus on regeneration—leaving our environment better than we found it and improving quality of life.
1.Quote from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services research.

 

The Sustainable Growth Coalition meets quarterly. Environmental Initiative convenes the partnership and provides staff support for the effort.

 

Becoming a Coalition Member

The Sustainable Growth Coalition is currently accepting member applications from leading Minnesota businesses and organizations.

Contact Amy Fredregill, Managing Director of the Sustainable Growth Coalition, at 612-334-3388 ext. 8110 for additional information.

Membership applications for the Sustainable Growth Coalition are reviewed by the Steering Committee.

Steering Committee Members

  • Hugh Cherne, Best Buy (Vice Chair)
  • Cassandra Garber, 3M
  • Dana Slade, HealthPartners
  • Jon Smieja, Andersen
  • Shane Stennes, University of Minnesota (Chair)
  • Erin Woodward, Uponor