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Richfield takes another big step forward in its sustainability journey

Post Date:07/11/2019 2:49 PM

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Major changes do not occur overnight, they take time. If most residents could snap their fingers and wake up tomorrow with a substantially more sustainable Richfield they would, but in reality, it takes a lot of time and effort to make the city a more environmentally-friendly place.

A major milestone on Richfield’s sustainability journey was reached on June 27, 2019, when city representatives Ward 1 City Councilmember Simon Trautmann, Recreation Services Department Director Amy Markle and GreenCorps member Rachel Lindholm accepted the Minnesota GreenSteps Cities step three designation.

“Richfield receiving its Step 3 designation from Minnesota GreenSteps Cities demonstrates the common vision residents, the city council and city staff have toward sustainability and ethical care for the environment,” said Ward 1 City Council member Simon Trautmann. “As a city, we are presented with both opportunities to lead and to learn from our peers. In terms of sustainability, we are leaders in the State of Minnesota.”   

Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Throughout the state, 127 cities and tribal nations participate in GreenStep Cities. GreenStep Cities provides a framework for cities to follow or adapt actions and projects from, saving money and staff time, and creating a network of cities statewide that work together and learn from each other.

For several decades, Richfield has committed itself to make the city a more sustainable place. However, Richfield took a significant step in organizing its environmental initiatives in 2012 when the city council adopted a resolution to register Richfield as a GreenStep City and start completing the program’s best practices.

“Richfield has long approached various projects by looking at the environmental costs, benefits, and best management practices all in order to provide top services and resources to residents, businesses, visitors, and everyone who works in Richfield,” explained Recreation Services Department Director and GreenStep Cities liaison Amy Markle. “Even before officially joining GreenStep Cities, Richfield had completed 9 of the initial 16 best practices.”

The GreenStep Cities program contains five steps, so Richfield’s newly acquired Step 3 status means that, as a city, it is well on its way to being a sustainability leader in the State of Minnesota.

The Step 3 designation also shows that Richfield’s sustainability efforts have been varied, with actions completed in categories including transportation, stormwater, energy efficiency, local foods and green businesses.

“Achieving Step 3 status shows that Richfield is committed to figuring out how sustainability principles and practices can be integrated into existing and new city buildings, projects, resources, and general behaviors,” asserted GreenCorps member Rachel Lindholm. “This achievement was only possible due to the hard work of numerous people demonstrating that sustainability is a value and priority for staff members and elected officials.”

Not resting on its laurels, Richfield staff are already hard at work identifying its path to a Step 4 designation.

Both Steps 4 and 5 in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program are more specific in what is measured compared to previous steps, which are more general and able to be tailored to a specific city more easily.

To aid in this task, the city is in the process of hiring a sustainability coordinator, which will shepherd the majority of Richfield’s environmentally-focused initiatives.

“Richfield staff and residents have a lot of green ideas for the future,” reported Mayor Regan Gonzalez. “We look forward to sharing them with the community as they come closer to implementation.”

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