| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Sustainability : Buzz

51 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All

U of M team wins DOE challenge

“Team OptiMN,” a group of 14 undergraduate and grad students at the University of Minnesota with diverse majors (including building science, sustainable design, construction management and business), was the Grand Award Winner of The Department of Energy’s second annual "Race to Zero" Student Design Competition. The team won for its design of the OptiMN Impact Home in North Minneapolis.

Teams competing in the “Race to Zero” challenge were asked to design cost-effective zero-energy-ready homes for mainstream builders, according to a press release announcing the award, adding that, "The winning design uses high-performance features that sharply reduce energy use, and allow for most of the remaining energy use to be offset with renewable energy." The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This year, the competition involved 33 teams from 27 universities in the U.S., Canada and China. "Along with energy-efficiency, the designed homes must be comfortable and attractive as well as affordable," the release stated.

Green Homes North, one of team OptiMN's partners, plans on building 100 energy-efficient homes in North Minneapolis in the next five years. Team OptiMN made sure the home followed their guidelines. The team also partnered with Urban Homeworks to design a high performance, affordable, flexible home. Residential Science Resources was the team's energy rater partner.

Team OptiMN’s design goals centered around meeting: the DOE’s challenge to build a zero energy ready home; Urban Homework’s mission to produce equitable, dignified communities; and Green Homes North Initiative to revitalize North Minneapolis neighborhoods with affordable, sustainable and quality homes.


Works Progress' "Water Bar" at Crystal Bridges Museum

The Minneapolis-based Works Progress, comprised of Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson, is part of the State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AK. Just inside the museum’s lobby is Kloecker and Matteson’s project Water Bar.
A partnership between Works Progress and the museum, as well as scientific researchers, environmental advocates, public employees, educators and local residents, Water Bar is an interactive installation that invites visitors to sample and compare water from three local sources: Beaver Lake (Bentonville), the Illinois River (Siloam Springs), and an artesian well in Sulphur Springs.
Representatives from the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and local educational institutions are staffing the bar. In addition to serving water, they engage visitors in conversations about drinking water, where it comes from and how to protect it.
The exhibition, with Water Bar, is on view until January 19, 2015. Works Progress is also participating in a State of the Art Symposium on November 14-15 to talk about how they engage artists, designers, organizers and creative professionals to realize public art rooted in place and purpose.
“Works Progress uses place, design and the shared experience of drinking water to focus our attention on local water sources,” says Chad Alligood, curator, Crystal Bridges. “The collaboration with Works Progress and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership represents a convergence of art and advocacy that engages the community in conversations about an issue that affects all of us.”
Matteson adds that, “We hope to install a local version of the Water Bar project in 2015 that will highlight Minnesota's water resources, and are currently seeking collaborators and support.”

Minneapolis third in Bicycling Magazine's top cities list

Minneapolis came in third in Bicycling Magazine's 2014 list of Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities.

"Minneapolis has long been an exemplary city for cycling—it topped our rankings in 2010 and was second in 2012. Even so, before she became mayor in 2014, Betsy Hodges said the city needed even better amenities for people like her who enjoyed biking but shied from traffic," the article stated.

Last winter, Hodges called out the "the city’s 4,000-plus year-round bike commuters" and "delivered a proclamation touting the city’s progress: 19 miles of bicycle boulevards installed since 2011; one of the country’s biggest bike-share systems per resident; and learn-to-ride classes that have spread the city’s bike culture to its large Somali community."

She also stated that "by 2020, Minneapolis would install 30 more miles of protected bikeways, so people like her, and thousands of others in the city, would feel more comfortable riding their bikes."

St. Paul came in 40th in the survey, and was lauded for "doubl[ing] the number of bike commuters betrween 2005 and 2012, and in 2014 unveiled a bicycle master plan calling for a loop of off-street bike paths downtown."

CKC Good Food recognized by Homegrown Heroes Awards

Nancy Close, the founder and CEO of CKC Good Food, a St. Paul-based school-meal catering company, recently was singled out for her efforts to bring healthy food to local schoolchildren. 

Close received an honorable mention at the Homegrown Heroes Awards from the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council at a presentation at the Walker Art Center earlier this month. 
“Awards honor those who help expand the community’s ability to grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods,” a prepared statement from the company reads.  
Sarah Reuben, a public health specialist with the Healthy Living Team in the City’s health department, nominated Close for the honor. Reuben had worked with the company to start salad bars at several Minneapolis charter schools. 
Source: CKC Good Food

Minneapolis on top 10 list for urban forests

Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the country for urban forests, according to nonprofit organization American Forests.
Others named in the top 10 list were Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Milwaukee, New York, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
These cities stood out based on a combination of six main criteria, the group noted, including accessibility of green spaces to the public, urban forest management plans, and civic engagement.
Minneapolis has nearly a million trees, and an urban tree canopy of 31 percent, American Forests reported.
The cities that were chosen are "examples of the type of dedication and leadership needed to improve the health and vitality of urban forests," said Scott Steen, American Forests CEO, in statement about the list.
"As communities across the country manage more and more for the impact of climate change and other critical environmental and social challenges, their urban forests become even more important to the health of their city," he said.
Steen added that each city on the list can serve as a role model for others in the country.

Twin Cities farmers markets land on list of nation's best

Food and restaurant site The Daily Meal highlighted the importance of farmers markets in a recent feature designed to showcase them--101 Best Farmers Markets in America.
Six local markets landed on the list, with St. Paul Farmers Market coming in at the no. 5 spot. Others included Midtown Farmers Market, Kingfield Farmers Market, Northeast Farmers Market, and Fulton Farmers Market.
To get the results, the site ranked markets based on the quality, number, and variety of products sold, the availability of each vendor's background information, what people are saying online about the market, and any awards or other recognition received.
"Farmers' markets are a place where the community comes together to support each other and the sustainable practices farmers use to produce," the article notes. "Farmers are the backbone of our food supply, and we love meeting and getting to know the people who grow what we eat at our local farmers' market."

Twin Cities named one of the country's healthiest, happiest hometowns

Health and wellness site Prevention.com identified the "25 Healthiest, Happiest Cities in America" and Minneapolis-St. Paul came in third on the list, just after San Jose and Salt Lake City.
To come up with the results, the site evaluated 100 of the nation's largest 48 cities, using measures that included farmers markets, access to green space, disease incidence, and unemployment rates.
The Twin Cities earned top scores for heart health, and abundant parks and lakes. A cardiologist at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing noted that "people have spent decades boosting heart health by making the area more bikeable, for example, and offering cholesterol and blood pressure screenings to everyone."
The article also added that of the top 25 cities, the Twin Cities have the highest per capital number of farmers markets and among the highest access to fresh produce.

Two local food trucks on list of best in the country

Popular local food trucks Chef Shack and Vellee Deli appeared on a recent list of the country's top food trucks, in a ranking dished up by food website The Daily Meal.
Chef Shack, a fixture on the food truck scene here and one of the first to kick off the trend, nabbed the no. 10 spot on the list while fusion cuisine purveyor Vellee Deli came in at no. 84.
The website looked at over 450 trucks from over 40 cities, and came up with the list by considering Twitter and Facebook popularity, as well as innovative menus, originality, and online reviews.
In singling out Chef Shack, the site noted that ingredients are organic when possible, and from family farms and co-ops in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Vellee Deli, meanwhile, won a spot for its blend of Asian and Mexican dishes.

Minneapolis named best city for parks

"If you're a lover of outdoor urban activity, might we suggest a move to Minneapolis?" begins the story on U.S. city park systems from Grist.
The online news site cited rankings from the Trust for Public Land in its second-annual ParkScore Index. Although Minneapolis didn't appear on last year's list, the survey results were tweaked this year to include more metropolitan locations, and the city zoomed to the top, beating out larger cities like San Francisco and New York City.
In calculating the rankings, ParkScore looked at acreage of city parks, services and investment, and access. Minneapolis parks boast 15 percent of the city's overall area, with over 5,000 acres of parkland.  

Twin Cities named best in nation for fitness

For the third year in a row, the Twin Cities landed at the top of the list for the healthiest cities in the country, according to the American Fitness Index, a study done by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Aimed at presenting a snapshot of the state of health and fitness at the metropolitan level, the annual ranking looks at a variety of factors that drive health, including the number of farmers markets per capita, city playgrounds and parks, golf courses and tennis courts, and other recreation opportunities.
Although the Minneapolis-St. Paul area was considered to have the most areas of excellence, there were some "improvement priority areas," including the number of smokers who live here, and the lower percentage of residents who eat more than five servings of fruits or vegetables per day.
Rounding out the top five were Washington D.C., Portland, San Francisco, and Denver.

Minnesota ranked as healthiest state for seniors

Minnetonka-based United Health Foundation recently released a study that examined the health of the country's seniors, and which states had the most community resources to support them as they age.
Minnesota came out on top, followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Iowa.
The report is designed to provide information that can be used to inspire new and effective solutions that meet the healthcare needs of seniors, noted Reed Tuckson, senior advisor to United Health Foundation. In a statement, he said, "We are measuring senior heath in order to help improve it."
Minnesota's advantages over other states include more robust drug coverage, lower rates of hunger among seniors, higher rates of annual dental visits, and an abundance of home health care workers.
The report noted, "We want this report to be more than just an assessment of the current status of senior health. We want to promote a public discussion of the overall health of the age 65+ population that is comprehensive and balanced."

Minneapolis ranked one of "10 Best Locavore Cities"

Food and drink website The Daily Meal recently ran a feature called "The 10 Best Locavore Cities in America Right Now," and Minneapolis landed at number eight.
Each city's listing showcases a restaurant that represents a commitment to locavores (those who seek out only locally sourced food). For Minneapolis, Corner Table got the nod.
"Minneapolis has come into its own as a food city, and Corner Table epitomizes the town's focus on fresh and friendly Midwestern cuisine," the article notes, before praising the restaurant's globally inspired dishes and seasonal tasting menus.
To come up with the list, editors at the site looked at which cities had the most restaurants known for serving locally sourced ingredients. Coming in at the top of the list is Asheville, North Carolina.

Earth Policy piece highlights Twin Cities' Nice Ride

Earth Policy describes various bike-sharing programs around the world in a recent post.

The post mentions Nice Ride, the bike-sharing program in Minneapolis and St. Paul, which is the second largest in the U.S. Nice Ride has 1,550 bikes at 170 stations, it states. Capital Bikeshare, which serves the Washington, D.C. area, is the biggest, with more than 1,800 bikes at 200 stations,the piece notes.

Bike-sharing programs are popping up more and more, these days. “Forward-thinking cities are turning back to the humble bicycle as a way to enhance mobility, alleviate automotive congestion, reduce air pollution, boost health, support local businesses, and attract more young people,” according to the article.

Bike-sharing systems “are being embraced by a growing number of people in the urbanizing world who are starting to view car ownership as more of a hassle than a rite of passage.” 

Minneapolis Nice Ride bike-sharing program gets a nod in the D.C. Streets Blog

DC.Streetsblog.org gives a shout-out to the Twin Cities’ Nice Ride bike-sharing program in a post, “Midwest Cities Race to Adopt, and Grow, Bike-Share.”

Recently, Pittsburgh announced it was adding a similar program, while several other cities plan to follow suit.

The post goes on to say, “And of course there’s the grandaddy of them all: Minneapolis’ Nice Ride. Launched in 2010, this system currently boasts more than 1,200 bikes. Late last year, the system surpassed half a million trips.”

The post also includes a photo of a local bicyclist taking advantage of the pioneering bike-sharing program.

Minneapolis reports bicycling and walking on the rise

Bicycling in Minneapolis increased by 56 percent over the past six years, and walking by 22 percent, according to the City of Minneapolis Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report 2012, released on March 1st.
The figures are based on annual counts conducted every September, at 30 different locations for bicyclists and 23 locations for pedestrians. According to the report, the top locations for both activities are near the University of Minnesota, in downtown Minneapolis, and along the Midtown Greenway and Cedar Lake Trail.
Other findings from the report include an increase in the number of routes for bicycling, which has attracted new cyclists and given existing cyclists more options. Minneapolis has added over 40 miles of bikeways in just the past two years.
The ongoing collection of data about bicycling and walking is done by the city to develop a more complete picture of overall traffic behavior in our communities, the report noted.
51 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts