Environmental stability seems to be on everyone's mind, and it's something the city of Rosemount has been thinking about a lot lately. It's most recent action in that regard is passing a resolution to become part of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program.

The program is a free and voluntary challenge set up to help cities reach sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices offered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The practices can be implemented by completing specific actions that are built into the program.

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City planner Jason Lindahl said participating in the program offers a number of benefits and little risk. Benefits include continuous ways for the city to go green, a reduction in the time city staff spends researching ways to reduce the city's carbon footprint, clear steps to follow through on the U.S. Mayors Climate Protections Agreement and leadership and action roles for community members to stretch limited funds and strengthen innovation.

The criteria for the best practices are divided into five topic areas: building and lighting; land use; transportation; environmental management; and economic and community development. Each best practice can be implemented by completing actions recommended by the program.

Lindahl said the city already meets the criteria for some of the best practices. A few minor changes could put them in compliance with others. While the city may not be able to implement all the best practices, Lindahl feels the city can make strides in the right direction.

"There are things that fit Rosemount, better than others," said Lindahl.

The GreenStep Cities program recognizes three steps. An initial review of the city's practices found that Rosemount could qualify as a Step 2 GreenSteps City. Lindahl said the city's goal would be to get to Step 3. The MPCA is in the process of developing criteria for a fourth step.

The city council approved the resolution to participate in the program at its Dec. 20 meeting. In the coming months staff will complete the inventory and seek recognition.

According to the GreenStep website the program was developed after the Minnesota Legislature directed the MPCA to create a voluntary program in 2008. Representatives from dozens of cities, non-profit organizations, businesses and state government agencies provided the outline for the program that was created specifically for Minnesota cities. The Minnesota GreenStep Cities program began in June 2010.