Minnesota’s state agencies are making good progress towards ambitious sustainability goals put in place last year by Governor Mark Dayton, according to a newly-released report by the Department of Administration’s Office of Enterprise Sustainability.
The 2017 Annual Sustainability Report is the first collection of data that documents the progress that Minnesota is making on cutting costs and increasing efficiency through sustainable practices.
“This report demonstrates that our smart, sustained commitment to conservation is paying off,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “Reducing waste, increasing our reliance on renewable energy, and using less energy overall, is saving money and contributing to the betterment of our environment. Still, there is more work to do, and much more to gain, by building upon these improvements across state government.”
Governor Dayton established six sustainability goals for state agencies to meet or exceed by 2027:
• 15 percent reduction in
• 30 percent reduction in
vehicle fossil fuel consumption, • 30 percent reduction in
energy intensity per square
• 30 percent reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions,
• 25 percent increase in
sustainable purchasing, and
• 75 percent combined recycling and composting rate.
To prepare the report, state agencies gathered water and energy data for more than 3,000 buildings, logged fuel consumption for 13,401 vehicles, and tallied 32 million pounds of recycling, organics, and trash to establish agency level baselines. From those baselines, agencies measured progress towards the 2027 goals.
According to the report, Minnesota state government is already more than halfway towards meeting its goals in reducing greenhouse gases and in state purchasing, and is 49 percent towards the 2027 goal of cutting energy use by 30 percent.
“Coming out of the gate, that’s a great start,” said Minnesota Department of Administration Commissioner Matt Massman, “and the report shows where there are opportunities to improve. We’re following best practices that have been used successfully in the private sector. Our aim is to fully incorporate sustainability into the way we work and do business.
“Look at energy use. As we are able to replace lighting and air handling systems in state buildings, we’ll improve efficiency and save money. We are also greatly expanding the use of solar arrays on building rooftops and other locations. This has a big effect on cutting costs, especially during peak rate hours, and helps us reduce our carbon footprint.”
Progress toward the 2027 goal for other areas included 1.7 percent for water consumption,
13 percent for fuel reduction in vehicles, and 40 percent for solid waste.
Larry Herke, director of the Office of Enterprise Sustainability at the Department of Administration said, “All these track well towards the 2027 sustainability goals, with the exception of water usage. Landscape watering on many campuses accounts for a great deal of water use, sometimes due to automated systems that apply water even after a recent rain. We need to improve these systems so that we’re making more use of collected rainfall and watering at proper amounts and intervals.”
Minnesota’s sustainability efforts are also getting a boost from a newly deployed tool that allows state agencies to track their progress towards meeting sustainability goals.
The Sustainability Reporting Tool (SRT), funded in part by a $200,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation, is an online dashboard that lets state agencies track progress toward improving vehicle and building energy efficiency, reducing water use, maximizing reuse and recycling, as well as track costs, implement work plans and increase employee and public engagement around sustainability.
“The SRT is giving agencies and managers a one-glance look at their progress and insights on what they need to focus on,” said Herke. “We’re excited about how this new tool will help agencies meet their sustainability goals.”
“2017 was a year for setting baselines, strengthening accountability and providing transparency concerning the impact of government operations on the environment and society,” said Herke. “Now the real work begins. In the coming year we’ll complete our action plans and focus on making sustainability a core principle of how every state agency is managed.”
Additionally, Minnesota recently became just the seventh state to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that helps increase green power use among U.S. organizations to advance the American market for green power and development of those sources as a way to reduce air pollution and other environmental impacts associated with electricity use. The Department of Administration’s vehicle fleet was also reaccredited in September as a Sustainable Fleet by the National Fleet Management Association.
The report can be viewed online at mn.gov/ admin/assets/2018%20annual% 20report_ web_ tcm36- 355173.pdf.
Learn more about the Office of Enterprise Sustainability at mn.gov/admin/ government/sustainability.