Green digest // Organics recycling expands to ECCO

ECCO — The city’s curbside composting pilot program, started last fall in Linden Hills, expanded in July to the ECCO neighborhood.

The City Council approved expansion of the program back in April, but it wasn’t until early July that ECCO residents received a letter in the mail giving them the option to join the program. As of the end of the month, about 150 ECCO households had signed up,Jeff Jenks, business applications manager for Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling Services, said.

Participating households are provided an organics cart, where they deposit food scraps and compostable materials separately from other trash and recyclables. Weekly organics collection began the week of July 28 in ECCO.

The curbside composting pilot program was rolled out last September in Linden Hills. In the first six months of the pilot project about 43 percent of households opted into the program and the city collected about 106 tons of organics.

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Leave those grass clippings

Summer is flying by, as usual, but there are still plenty of warm weekends left for sprucing up lawns and gardens.

The city collects properly bagged and bundled leaves, brush and other yard waste from April through November, but there’s one thing that shouldn’t be put out in the alley: grass clippings.

Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling recommends that grass clippings remain on lawns, where they will decompose and act as a natural fertilizer. A year’s worth of grass clippings is roughly equal to one annual fertilizer treatment, the department reports on its website.

The state banned grass clippings from landfills and incinerators back in 1990, but Solid Waste and Recycling reports they still make up about half of the yard waste collected in a year. Hauling the grass clippings is estimated to cost the city about $1 million annually.

To learn more about the benefits of grass clippings and mowing strategies to keep them under control, visit the Solid Waste and Recycling section of the city website (ci.minneapolis.mn.us/solid-waste) and click on the “How to prepare” tab under “Yard Waste.”

Yard waste other than grass clippings can be set out for pick-up on garbage days.

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Southwest builder at State Fair

Visit the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair later this month and you’ll find a 2,200-square-foot model home designed to generate as much energy as it uses in a year.

Known as House4, the prototype carbon-neutral home was being assembled in July by Southwest-based builder Mike Otto Construction and a team from Showcase Renovations. Sala Architects of Minneapolis designed the home.

Mike Otto was tracking progress on the project, including a few minor hiccups in the early stages, at mikeottoconstruction.blogspot.com.

Eco Experience, a collaboration between the fair and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, debuted in 2006 and has featured an “eco home” for the past several years.

The design of House4 includes a variety of energy-saving features, including: large, south-facing windows for passive solar heating during the winter; electricity-sipping LED lights; and a toilet that flushes with “gray water” recycled from sinks in the home.

The design also includes geothermal heating and cooling systems and a solar chimney to heat fresh outdoor air in the winter and vent the house in the summer. House4 also will generate its own energy using photovoltaic solar energy panels.

Other eco-friendly features include a garage with a green roof, a native plant rain garden and a driveway built with materials that allow rainwater to pass through and soak into the ground.

The house will be open to fair-goers for tours 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

Eco Experience is located in the Progress Center near the intersection of Randall Avenue and Cosgrove Street. The Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 27–Sept. 7.

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Blake students plant rain garden

Students from The Blake School’s Lowry Hill campus installed a rain garden on school grounds, Hennepin County reported in July.

Designed to reduce runoff during rain events, the rain garden was installed with the help of a $1,000 grant from the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission. The commission works to improve water quality in the Bassett Creek Watershed, an area of more than 40-square-miles that includes a portion of Minneapolis and eight other municipalities in the western suburbs.

The main stem of Bassett Creek flows from Medicine Lake to the Mississippi River, passing through the Bryn Mawr neighborhood just to the north of Lowry Hill.

The Blake School also participates in Hennepin County’s Riverwatch program. Students collect tiny invertebrates from Bassett Creek to gather information on water quality, the county reported.