Since 2012, we have celebrated our business and community members who have gone above and beyond to create a positive impact on the environment with our annual Sustainable Saint Paul Awards (SSPA). Each year, we have more and more difficult decisions to make, as the candidates for each of the 14 conservation and environmental award categories become more and more impressive. It’s truly heartening to see so many of our community members across the city step up and make a difference.
|Photo courtesy of Aeon staff.|
The 2014 SSPAs are unique, as more than half of this year’s winners are along or near the Green Line light rail, opening in just a few weeks on June 14. Much like the corridor’s namesake, these businesses, buildings and groups have made a commitment to creating a greener, cleaner, healthier future with innovation and tenacity.
Across the board, businesses and groups have come up with fantastic ways to conserve energy, reduce waste and save water. Here are just a few of this year’s highlights:
8 Sustainable Saint Paul Awards along or near the Green Line:
Union Depot - Commercial Green Building Design Award - The first stop is at the Green Line’s Union Depot for its design, runoff and transit connections for greater mobility. Development activity tied to the renovation of the Union Depot created 4,440 jobs and resulted in 31,000 tons of construction waste recycled and diverted from landfills.
|Photo courtesy of Frogtown Tree Frogs.|
Frogtown Tree Frogs - Natural Resources Conservation Award – Frogtown Tree Frogs earned this award for their work increasing tree canopy coverage in the Thomas-Dale district. The group provides no-cost shade and fruit trees to property owners in the Thomas-Dale planning district with annually secured grants and donations from the Unity Unitarian Church of Saint Paul and the United States Forest Service, Urban Connections Program. To date, the group has added more than 100 trees.
Saint Paul Hotel - Waste Reduction, Composting or Recycling Award – The Saint Paul hotel has achieved a 90 percent recycling rate, keeping 359,380 pounds of food waste and other compostable materials out of landfills and the waste stream. By making even more improvements to the hotel’s existing initiatives, the hotel’s new recycling rate is nearly double the average.
Energy Innovation Corridor - Innovative Collaboration Award – The Energy Innovation Corridor collaborates and coordinates action plans and targets the strategic deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart technologies, and transportation along the Green Line light rail corridor. To date, the EIC has seen more than $50 million in economic impact and avoided 2.5 billion pounds of carbon.
Capitol Region Watershed District, City of Saint Paul, Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County -Water Quality or Conservation Award – The construction of the Green Line light rail has led to three monumental water conservation features from this three-way partnership: Approximately five miles of an integrated tree trench system with 1,200 trees along the north and south sides of University Avenue; two types of surface green infrastructure practice (rain water and storm water planters) at nine locations adjacent to University Avenue; and infiltration trenches beneath two side streets within the corridor.
Inspiring Communities Program - Single-Family Residential Green Building Design Award - In 2013, Inspiring Communities Program invested $8.6 million in Saint Paul neighborhoods that had been impacted by vacancy and foreclosure. The comprehensive program is a replicable plan for creating affordable and sustainable housing that minimizes negative environmental impacts.
Renaissance Box - Multi-Family Residential Green Building Design Award - Nonprofit developer Aeon transformed this once-contaminated site into affordable, sustainable and historic housing. More than 90 percent of the storm water is managed on-site with a variety of methods, featuring two rain gardens, green space, and a green roof. Water consumption has also been reduced by at least 30 percent compared to typical constructions through the use of efficient toilets and faucets.
Hamline Church Tech Dump - Green Practices Award –Hamline Church United Methodist and Tech Dump provide the community with low-cost, accessible opportunities to recycle unwanted electronics and appliances at their “Hamline Church Tech Dump” events. In addition to promoting environmental stewardship, Tech Dump promotes social sustainability, utilizing the revenue created by recycling electronics to provide jobs for people who have been incarcerated and would otherwise have difficulty finding employment opportunities.
Other award winners included:
Gateway Food Co-op - Local, Healthy Food Award
Central High School Roots and Shoots - Youth Leadership Award
Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, CityLabs - Sustainable Partnership Award
Como Zoo Park and Conservatory - Chipotle Edible Garden - Environmental Education and Awareness
Wes Saunders-Pearce - Sustainable City Staff
Garden Fresh Farms - Green Products
Regions Hospital - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Award