A non-profit advocacy group has ranked the city of Minneapolis near the top of the list for energy efficiency, while offering suggestions to improve its performance.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Minneapolis 8th of the 34 most populated cities. The organization's report released today graded Minneapolis highly for its transportation and water utility policies.
City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who chairs the Regulatory Energy & Environment Committee, said Minneapolis' high ranking shows that efforts to increase energy efficiency at the city and regional level are having an impact.
"We’re putting our goals where our values are, which is doing a good job to be energy efficient," Glidden said. "I think the challenge is: can we stay in that ranking? Can we continue to press ourselves so that we continue at the top of the pack?"
The report complimented the city on its Climate Action Plan, which was adopted by the city council on June 28. It includes specific strategies to help Minneapolis reach its energy goals.
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"We’re not talking about a plan where we do things in ten years," Glidden said. "We’re talking about a plan that will push us to do things now."
In November, city staff are expected to recommend concrete actions for the council to implement in the first year of the plan.
The report also gave high marks to Minneapolis' transportation policies, including the city's emphasis on bike sharing, energy-efficient land use and mass transit.
There was room for improvement. The authors recommended that Minneapolis require large multi-family units report energy use. It also recommended the city develop more incentives for owners of private buildings to save energy.
The council approved a green benchmarking proposal in February that requires building owners to submit reports detailing how efficiently their structures used gas, electricity and water. The plan will be phased in over the next few years. Glidden said reports from government buildings are expected soon, and will be available to the public on a website.
"It’s using the marketplace more rather than mandates to provide change and greater energy efficiency in buildings," Glidden said. "This is a tool that’s been used across the country by many of the other cities that made this top energy-efficient list. It’s made a difference in those other communities and we think it’s going to make a difference here."
St. Paul's population is too small to be included in the report.