Green report

So far, 21 idling complaints, but no fines

Minneapolis’ idling ordinance passed June 6, but drivers don’t have to worry just yet about being ticketed for leaving their vehicles idling for more than three minutes.

As of Aug. 5, 21 complaints of long-term idling had been reported to the city’s Environmental Services department, city spokesman Matt Laible said. However, that hasn’t translated to any fines — yet.

It isn’t until the fall that citations, which can be as much as $200, will be given out, Laible said. The city currently is in public education mode, he said, with a focus on companies that make frequent use of large trucks and vehicles, such as bus companies, taxi companies and trucking companies. Stores and restaurants that get regular deliveries from trucks also are likely to receive education, Laible said.

There are a few exceptions to the idling ordinance, such as for buses that need to stay running to keep on-board passengers comfortable or for trucks that have to keep cargo refrigerated.

When fines do start being given out, they will be the responsibility of Environmental Services. That means Minneapolis Police officers won’t be patrolling to find long-idling vehicles. Rather, Laible said, it’s up to citizens to report rule-breaking to Environmental Services by calling 311.

The ordinance is part of an effort from city officials to reduce the number of days considered unhealthy because of poor air quality. In 2007, city residents endured 177 “moderately unhealthy” days because of air pollution, according to a staff report.

“Over half of air pollution in the city is coming from cars, trucks and buses,” Environmental Services Supervisor Daniel Huff has said.

City leaders have adopted a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions citywide by 12 percent by 2012 and 20 percent by 2020.

Park Board adds LEED-certified person — sort of

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) really is everywhere — or at least it’s getting there.

LEED is the third-party certification program that awards ratings to buildings that have taken environmental sustainability into account during construction or remodeling. Created by the U.S. Green Building Council, it’s only a decade old but already is seen by some as the “Energy Star” symbol of sustainable building.

There are LEED-certified commercial projects, LEED-certified schools and LEED-certified interiors. Homes were just added to the list of certifiable projects, and LEED-certified neighborhood development currently is in a pilot-program phase.

It’s not that suprising, perhaps, that the LEED-certified person was next. And the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has one — sort of.

People can’t technically become LEED-certified. Rather, they’re accredited — as in, LEED accredited professional.

That’s the official designation Julia Cline, an engineering technician with the Park Board, now can carry with her. It wasn’t easy getting her there.

Already working full-time for the Park Board, she spent a pair of months after hours learning the very technical ins and outs of building systems, site development, water testing, recycling and more that earns projects LEED certification. Afterward, she spent a Monday night — again after work — taking a two-hour exam that not everyone passes on the first go-around.

Judd Rietkerk, the Park Board’s planning director, said getting a LEED-accredited professional was a long time in the making.

“We’d been shooting for it, shooting for it,” Rietkerk said. “[Cline] prepared for it, and then she got it on the first try.”

Cline is qualified to be the point person between LEED certifiers and Park Board projects, and she probably is the most knowledgeable consultant the board has on building green.

Despite her status, she said she has yet to put it to formal use. So far, Cline has just been fielding a lot of questions from co-workers about better ways to be sustainable — which, if that’s most of what her new status leaves her with, is OK by her.

“We’re just really excited as an organization to respond to the public’s desire for sustainability,” she said.

Libraries cut down on PC packaging waste

Hoping to cut down on excessive packaging leftovers, Hennepin County Library has implemented a program to only purchase computers in bulk.

According to a county news release, bulk packaging cuts down the amount of waste of individual packaging by 75 percent. It’s more environmentally friendly, and it’s also cheaper: Disposal of the waste costs dozens of dollars less, and library staff spend about 18 fewer hours unpacking the computers now than when they came individually boxed.