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Sustainable Energy Grant on Tap from McKnight Foundation

PlanScape Impact(s): Best Practice ; Sustainability
Last modified: November 14, 2015 Public Report From Sustainable, Resilient Rochester


PB Reporting

Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 9:13 am

The city of Rochester has the potential to become a leader in energy efficiency and sustainability, according to two reports delivered at a Tuesday night Rochester Energy Commission special meeting.

DMC plan

Destination Medical Center plans are at the heart of the opportunity for energy action in the city. A report prepared by the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment for the DMC Corp Board has aggressive recommendations for its focus area — two DMC districts in the downtown, Heart of the City and Discovery Square.

Those recommendations include establishing the two DMC districts as a sustainable energy zone to focus attention on all energy opportunities in the geographic area; building on Mayo Clinic's district energy and co-generation system; and building any new developments with Architecture 2030 standards, which strive for zero net carbon emission buildings by 2030.

More important than the specific energy goals, though, is the communitywide goal to establish a culture of sustainability, said Sheldon Strom, CEE president.

"We think it's important as we do this to establish a culture of sustainability," Strom said. "It makes a huge difference what the public thinks and what the users of a building think."

The focus area of the CEE's energy recommendations for the DMCC board is relatively small, but Strom hoped the area would become a model for more widespread practice.

"There is a limited focus to those areas, but we're hoping to develop strategies that can be expanded if proven successful," he said.

Strom and Jenny Edwards, CEE director of Innovation Exchange, also emphasized the importance of starting with practical, cost-effective measures.

CEE staff will present the energy update to the DMCC board at a Nov. 19 meeting.

Energy action plan

The city of Rochester is also in the process of evaluating its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The Rochester Energy Commission, created in 2009, was tasked with creating anenergy action plan that would help the city reach energy goals set by the state of Minnesota, including to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent, relative to a 2005 baseline, by 2050.

With funding from the city, the energy commission hired Wenck Associates as a consultant to assist in formulating the plan.

After about four months of work, that plan has made significant progress, reported Erin Heitkamp, Wenck global sustainability practice leader. Wenck has completed the major tasks of reviewing its role with the city's comprehensive plan update and comparative analysis with other cities.

A large portion the work so far, Heitkamp said, has been related to: "Ultimately, understanding what the city's baseline greenhouse gas inventory looks like and then understanding what the real material opportunities are to influence that going forward."

As part of its greenhouse gas inventory, Wenck reported the city's emissions impact included more than 76,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 from city-owned and city-controlled sources; that was only a fraction of the emissions from indirect sources related to city activities.

A draft energy action plan is on schedule to be ready around the end of March, Heitkamp said.

Great to see this effort.



PlanScape Impact(s): Best Practice ; Sustainability
Last modified: November 14, 2015 Public Report From Sustainable, Resilient Rochester

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  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community,'s  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. could be an interesting first step.

The following defines the various project phases:
  1. Available - a product, program or service is in production
  2. Develop - program or application is being developed
  3. Plan - idea is solid, stakeholders are identified, and there is strong commitment to go forward from all parties.
  4. Concept Phase - idea scoped out with enough details to give an early sizing and/or to build a proof of concept
  5. Pre-concept Phase - an early idea or a requirement.
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