Leader: Roger Tomten
The Climate Action Workgroup advocates for local communities to adopt comprehensive policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions through mitigation and counter the effects of climate change through adaptation. These policies commonly are formatted into a Climate Action Plan (CAP). To be an effective CAP, the municipality must document existing emissions from all sources, create reduction goals or targets, prioritize, and analyze the results.
Climate Action Workgroup
CLIMATE PLANNING “Climate Planning involves mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (contending with a hotter, drier, and more turbulent world and getting ready for an even worse situation).”
MITIGATION PROJECTS (M#) The mitigation component of a Climate Plan documents the greenhouse gas emissions of a community and then proceeds to institute policies that will reduce emissions. It will include both indicators and benchmarks. The indicators are measurements providing information about community trends that leaders can use to make decisions affecting future outcomes. The benchmarks will provide numerical targets formulated by community aspirations. Both indicators and benchmarks will be used to measure progress over time. There are several mitigation opportunities currently available, some are already in place and functioning, others are in the planning stages and still others are in the visioning stage.
ADAPTATION PROJECTS (A#) The adaptation component of a Climate Action Plan will include upgrades to public infrastructures such as streets, buildings, flood protection, and public spaces, increasing longevity and avoiding the perilous consequences of climate change.
M1: RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EMISSION REDUCTION, CERTS/Cimarron
Currently, our Climate Action Team has been working with CERTS (Clean Energy Resource Team) and distributing energy-saving information to the residents of Cimarron, a mobile home park in Lake Elmo. Linda Countryman has been spearheading this effort and will be filling us in on the results.
M2: RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL & MUNICIPAL ENERGY EMISSION REDUCTION, EAS/PIE
We have also been involved in the activities of Energy Action Stillwater (EAS) which was the result of Councilmember Odebrecht spearheading a partnership with Xcel Energy and their Partners In Energy program (PIE). At this point, our Board Chair, Rick Heidick, will be attending the EAS meetings and reporting back to the SSMN Board. The initial intended outcome will be to identify and target areas where greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced in Stillwater proper. We should be asking, or better yet, looking to the City for guidance on how to be more efficient with the resources we are using/consuming. How much energy does it take to operate City Hall? Can we do better? How about the Rec Center, the Library, or Lily Lake Arena? Can we do better?
M3: RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EMISSION REDUCTION, Household Carbon Footprint
Individual household efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Echoing the outline of a municipal Climate Action Plan, households would identify current greenhouse gas emissions, and set areas for improvement and reduction goals, followed by the results of the emission reductions.
M4: TRAFFIC EMISSION REDUCTION, Circulator Bus
Over the years the idea of a shuttle bus system through the community has been raised. It now exists and has been funded through Community Thread for the last several years. Its focus has been on providing alternative transportation to the residents of the larger housing complexes to the major shopping and medical facilities in the Stillwater and Oak Park Heights areas. CAT could work with CT to expand the marketing and advertising of the Shuttle system and grow it to other days, possibly expanding time schedules and locations. CAT could learn more about the shuttle, how it is getting its funding, how many riders does it have, what are the demographics of the riders and how can we enhance and expand ridership.
M5: TRAFFIC EMISSION & CONGESTION REDUCTION, Event Busing
On a very similar topic, the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce has been experimenting with a bus shuttle system for large special events held in downtown Stillwater. CAT could be involved in organizing, promoting, or volunteering for these efforts. Council members have indicated that a meeting between the City and the Chamber could help explore possibilities.
M6: TRAFFIC EMISSION REDUCTION, Bike Infrastructure
Bike infrastructure enhancements to expand commuter and daily biking in the area. Work with the largest employers, Washington County and Andersen Windows to encourage bike commuting (or ride-sharing) to and from work.
A1: REDUCE HEAT ISLAND EFFECT +, Tree Canopy
Efforts to increase tree canopy coverage thus reducing the urban heat island effect. There have been a couple of efforts to begin a “tree hugger” group but they have wilted after a few months time. A potential kick-off project could be the street reconstruction proposed for Greeley Street in 2024 and a concerted effort to include street trees for shade, stormwater management, and traffic calming.
A2: NURTURING A RESILIENT DEVELOPMENT FORM, City Ordinances
Provide a growth framework that allows for a mix of housing types, affordability levels, and energy efficiency levels without expanding beyond the municipalities' means to pay for or maintain services. The City of Stillwater will be funding a review of the current zoning codes in 2024, so now will be a good time to begin the discussions about how the ordinances are modified to achieve a higher level of sustainability and efficiency.
The projects above only represent current thoughts and may be duplications of current or future initiatives of other work groups. This list is just a starting point and will no doubt grow and shrink as time progresses. There are easily a handful of projects/initiatives that can be achieved with additional social capital. If anyone is interested in taking on one of these projects/initiatives, or have an idea for a project you would like to lead, let me know.
These efforts will lay the groundwork for the completion of a much more comprehensive Climate Action Plan by the City of Stillwater and promote the advancement of this type of work in adjacent communities. Communities that have already developed and are implementing CAPs have focused on the following categories: energy-efficient buildings, electrifying car fleets, optimizing waste operations, expanding public transportation, and renewable energy sources.
If you have an idea for an additional initiative that you would like to lead, let me know and we will include it in our list.
If you have the ability to lead one of the initiatives listed above, let me know and we can help get you started.
Roger Tomten, CAT lead
HOME ENERGY CONSERVATION
Home Energy Conservation focuses on providing information and education on residential energy consumption and savings. We’ve made a guide that helps Stillwater residents understand:
the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources,
the importance of energy conservation, and
how to identify if home energy conservation is something you want to consider doing