Green report

Bike sharing expected next spring

The announcement of a $1.75 million federal grant in March means the Minneapolis Bike Share Program has cleared the "largest hurdle" on its way to a spring 2010 rollout, program coordinator Bill Dossett said.

The federal grant came through Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federally funded initiative that aims to increase biking and walking in Minneapolis and surrounding communities. Bike Share is on track to raise the $3.3 million needed to begin full operations a year from now, Dossett said.

He said there could be bicycles available for rent at four to five kiosks on the University of Minnesota campus as soon as this fall. The city plans the following spring to have thousands of bicycles available for $5 per day or $50 per season at kiosks stationed in Downtown, Uptown and on campus.

Nice Ride will manage the program. The proposed nonprofit is now assembling a board, Dossett said.

He said the city included $350,000 for bike sharing in its budget, and anticipated the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development would approve a $200,000 loan to the program. About $1 million in corporate funds, plus another $600,000 to fund the first one to three years of operations, had not been secured, yet.

The original announcement of a bike-sharing program included a spring 2009 start date. Delays in securing the federal funding pushed the rollout back one year, Dossett said.

Going dark for the planet

Minneapolis was one of nearly 1,000 municipalities in 100 countries across the globe planning to turn off the lights for one hour the night of March 28.

A resolution supporting the city’s involvement in the Earth Hour program passed the City Council Committee on Health, Energy and Environment in March. There were plans to shut off all municipal building lights and other non-essential uses of electricity 8:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.

The resolution was to go before the City Council for final approval March 27.

This will be the second year Minneapolis participates in Earth Hour, a global effort to draw attention to climate change. Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour aims to raise awareness of the impact energy use has on greenhouse gas emissions.

In Minneapolis, decorative lighting on the underside of the Stone Arch Bridge and the City Hall clock tower will be turned off during Earth Hour. The skyline will dim when the IDS Center, Wells Fargo Center and Target headquarters turn off the lights.

The inaugural Earth Hour was held in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. Earth Hour 2008 grew to include about 400 cities worldwide.

For more information on Earth Hour, visit www.earthhourUS.org/.

Minneapolis in Energy Star top 10

Minneapolis and St. Paul together ranked eighth in the nation last year for the number of energy efficient buildings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in March.

Buildings that earn the EPA’s Energy Star label must be in the top 25 percent for energy efficiency when compared with similar facilities nationwide. Energy Star buildings typically use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less greenhouse gasses than average, the EPA reported.

The EPA ranked the top 25 Energy Star metropolitan areas for 2008. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston made up the top three.

More than 3,300 commercial buildings and manufacturing plants earned an Energy Star ranking for high efficiency last year, bringing the nation’s total to about 6,550, according to the EPA’s online database.

Minneapolis and St. Paul report a total of 102 Energy Star buildings in the metropolitan area. The EPA website includes a searchable list of Energy Star buildings (energystar.gov/buildinglist).

The EPA reports the commercial and manufacturing buildings targeted by the Energy Star program account for nearly half the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

Another place for no. 5 plastic

LINDEN HILLS — There’s another place in Southwest to recycle your empty yogurt and hummus tubs: Linden Hills Co-op.

In the March 9 Green Report we noted Whole Foods Market began accepting products made with polypropylene plastic in January through a partnership with Preserve, a for-profit company that recycles them into plastic razor handles, toothbrushes and other household products. After that Green Report ran, a Southwest Journal reader pointed out that Linden Hills Co-op has a similar partnership with Preserve.

Minneapolis, like many cities, will not accept polypropylene plastic for recycling. The plastic is used in many semi-flexible food containers, and can be identified by the number 5 in the center of the recycling symbol.

A manager at Linden Hills Co-op had just one request of recyclers: Remember to rinse your number-5 plastics before bringing them into the store.

Green report

When is recycling day?

Did you miss recycling day again? Is that paper bag of glass empties getting embarrassingly full?

There’s no excuse for that: The city mailed out 2009 recycling calendars in late February. The brochures are a handy reference both for when the trucks come and what should and shouldn’t go in the recycling bin.

If you missed the calendar — or were a bit overzealous and put it out on the curb with the old newspapers — no worries: recycling information is available on the city website (www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/recycling). The page includes an address look-up feature for recycling and trash pick-up dates.

The city reports more than 90 percent of Minneapolis households recycle. Crews pick up 3 to 4 tons of cans, glass and plastic bottles, newspapers and other recyclables each day, for an annual total of more than 23,000 tons.

Making up a part of those 23,000 tons are old TVs, remote controls and other electronics (just remove any batteries and place them in a clear plastic bag on top of the recycling bin). Minneapolis is the only city in the country that picks up electronics with recycling.

Want to know what else you can or can’t recycle?

The recycling page on the city website includes an alphabetical list of typical waste items from acid (can’t) to zinc batteries (can).

Finally, something to do with those yogurt containers

Here’s something that’s definitely on the city’s can’t-recycle list: the ubiquitous yogurt container.

In Minneapolis as in many cities, products made with polypropylene plastic — identified with a number five in the center of the recycle symbol — have to go in the trash. That category includes many semi-flexible food containers, like those used for hummus and yogurt.

What’s worse: Pita bread without hummus or throwing another plastic tub on the landfill?

If that question was weighing on your conscience, worry no longer.

In January, Whole Foods Market announced a partnership with Preserve to accept number-five plastic containers at many of its locations, including the store near Lake Calhoun. Look for the Preserve Gimme 5 bin in the store.

Preserve is a for-profit company that "makes stylish, high performance, eco-friendly products for your home," it advertises on its website. Your empty tub of blueberry yogurt may some day become a plastic razor handle, cutting board or toothbrush.

The company also accepts number five plastic by mail. Visit its website (www.preserveproducts.com) for more information.

Oh, and that old water filter on your Brita pitcher? They’ll take those, too.

In other recycling news …

Hennepin County now accepts used mattresses for recycling at their Brooklyn Park Drop-Off Facility, 8100 Jefferson Highway.

Mattresses or box springs of any size are recycled for a $15 fee. The facility is open Tuesday- through Saturday, and you must bring proof of residency to drop off a mattress.

The green stag

Kim Bartmann, owner of Bryant-Lake Bowl and Barbette in Southwest, continues to win accolades for environmental efforts at her third restaurant, Red Stag Supperclub.

The East Bank eatery is now the first restaurant in Minnesota — and only the ninth in the nation — to earn LEED-CI Silver certification. Certification recognizes the sustainable practices used in designing and operating the restaurant.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a nationally recognized set of green building standards. LEED-CI, or LEED for Commercial Interiors, is a program designed for commercial tenants who make environmentally responsible improvements to an existing space.

About 90 percent of lighting in the Red Stag comes from LED lights, which use much less electricity than incandescent bulbs, the restaurant reported. As a member of Xcel Energy’s Windsource program, the restaurant gets about 50 percent of its electricity from renewable wind energy.

The Red Stag also was conserving water, using about 70 percent less than other new restaurants, it reported. The majority of construction waste produced during remodeling of the space was recycled, and now food scraps get recycled, too, through a composting program.

The highest level of LEED-CI certification is platinum, followed by gold and then silver.

Bartmann accepted a plaque recognizing the certification in a Feb. 23 ceremony at the restaurant.