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City notes: City working towards sustainability

It’s not often that global issues come up before the Rosemount City Council. But last week, my colleagues and I approved a resolution calling on our residents, businesses, and institutions to celebrate Earth Day. It’s only reasonable for you to ask what we at the city are doing to support green initiatives.

As I mentioned in last month’s column, we have several actions under way, such as cooperation with a private firm seeking state funding to put solar panels on the roof of the City Hall and at some other buildings. That could earn the city a price break on its electric bills.

It’s interesting to note the size of those bills and what drives them. Rosemount was billed about a half-million dollars last year for electricity. Half of that goes to run our water and sewer utility. We also paid $128,000 for natural gas service, roughly half of it for parks facilities.

To control that demand, we’ve invested in various projects, large and small, to cut energy consumption. We have a system to reduce heating and air conditioning levels automatically during off hours. When our insurance policy paid last year to replace the roof on city hall that was damaged by weather, we paid to add extra insulation.

We replaced an outmoded boiler in the Steeple Center, and the addition to the center now under construction for seniors and other activities is going in with a passive solar design. A more efficient refrigeration system is on the way for the ice arena.

As you probably have seen from shopping for light bulbs, switching to energy-efficient technology can be more expensive upfront. But we did the calculations when moving to LED lighting in some facilities to make sure they would pay off in a reasonable amount of time. And we’ve taken advantage of utility and government programs to help cover some of the costs. Now we’re testing LED street lights, which could provide a big savings.

Beyond our buildings, there are other steps the city council is pursuing to have a green economy in Rosemount. We are looking for ways to reuse treated sewer water. We already lead neighboring communities in retaining storm water to replenish the aquifer that the region depends on for drinking water.

Rosemount is active to plan for more bus service, and we are involved in the early planning that could bring rail service connecting to points south.

We have approved a private solar farm for the southeast corner of the city, and we support efforts by Flint Hills Resources to reuse excess steam. And as always, we look for ways through private development to add parks, trails and open space to our community.

And our involvement with the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Program (RCP) is giving us new ideas as it comes to a conclusion this spring. I recently read a blog post by RHS teacher Thomas Scott, who writes about the ways students are working toward a sustainable future in Rosemount via projects in the RCP, including recycling efforts at the school.

I know Rosemount residents support our efforts to protect the environment. I’m sure we’ll see the evidence again this Saturday in the crowds that turn out every Arbor Day to collect trees to plant on their own properties. We’re all committed to protecting our natural resources for the generations that follow us.

Mayor Bill Droste authored this month's City Notes column. 

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