Green digest // City facility wins inaugural EcoBLEND Award

The inaugural EcoBLEND Award recognizing environmentally sustainable building practices will go to the city-owned Hiawatha Maintenance Facility in a Sept. 25 ceremony, award organizers announced in August.

The EcoBLEND Award is the newest edition to the slate of BLEND Awards given out annually since 2007. BLEND stands for Buildings and Landscapes Enhancing the Neighborhood through Design, and the awards were established by a group of Southwest neighborhoods to recognize new construction and remodeling projects that successfully blend in with their surrounding neighborhoods.

To earn an EcoBLEND Award, projects must meet the original BLEND criteria and also demonstrate ecological awareness through sustainable building practices.

The 60,000-square-foot Hiawatha Maintenance Facility at 1901 E. 26th St. was completed in 2010 at a cost of about $11 million and was awarded LEED Platinum certification, the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. Many of the elements that earned the project that rating also caught the attention of the EcoBLEND judges, including the use of recycled and repurposed materials during construction.

The facility houses city Department of Public Works operations and is in use around the clock. It’s a large, busy facility, but the EcoBLEND judges noted a thoughtful design helped it integrate with its residential neighbors.

The judges were Mike Otto of Fair and Square Remodeling and Mike Lucas of The Gudhouse Company. The Hiawatha Maintenance Facility was designed by Marc Partridge of RSP Architects and built by Knutson Construction. 

No EcoBLEND Awards were awarded this year for residential construction or remodeling projects.

The BLEND Awards ceremony is 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at Wild Rumpus bookstore, 2720 W. 43rd St. For more information, go to

Clean water grants available

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District announced in August it was seeking proposals for local clean water projects.

Those projects could be eligible for grants of up to $25,000 from the Cynthia Krieg Watershed Stewardship Fund. The $100,000 fund was established in memory of Krieg, an advocate for environmental causes who died in 2000.

The projects must be located within the watershed, a 181-square-mile area that includes Minnehaha Creek and the Chain of Lakes in Southwest. Grants will be awarded projects that promote either education about clean water issues or innovation in protecting or improving water quality.

Applicants are required to submit a project outline for pre-approval by Sept. 26. To apply, go to

Contact watershed district Education Manager Leslie Yetka for more information: [email protected] or 952-641-4524.

Master recycling and composting

Hennepin County is offering another round of its Master Recycler/Composter training course over six weekly sessions beginning in October.

Launched with an inaugural class of 30 in 2011, the program digs deep into the “three Rs” — reduce, reuse and recycle — training volunteers in techniques to limit waste and boost recycling and composting in their communities. Classes also cover a variety of related topics, including alternatives to toxic household products and the basics of green building and deconstruction techniques.

Once the classroom work is completed, participants then volunteer at least 30 hours in their communities to earn their Master Recycler/Composter certification.

“They’ve been doing all sorts of stuff,” said program coordinator Carolyn Collopy. “We have some that have taken on their farmers markets and helped them go zero-waste by adding organics collection (for composting), some who’ve just taken on a table at their farmers market to talk about recycling and composting. I’ve got several who helped multi-family apartment buildings with their recycling.”

Collopy said program participants also share the lessons they’ve learned with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. 

“Their impact goes way beyond the hours they report,” she said.

Past sessions have filled quickly, but Collopy said at least half of the 30 available seats for the fall session were still available as of early September.

Classes run 6 p.m.–8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings beginning Oct. 2 at Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road N. There will be a break Nov. 6 for Election Day before the final class Nov. 13. There are also two optional fieldtrips to local waste and recycling facilities 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 12 and 26.

The course costs $30. To register online, go, click on “volunteer opportunities” and follow the “Master Recycler/Composters” link.

Master Recycler/Composter program graduates are available to design recycling plans or help out at events. To get in touch with a volunteer, or for more information on the program, contact Collopy at [email protected] or 596-0993.

Choose to 

Reuse books available Oct. 1

Hennepin County is preparing for the annual release of its Choose to Reuse coupon books Oct. 1.

The books, which contain coupons good for discounts at about 80 local retailers, are now available for pre-order. Go to and type “choose to reuse” into the search box.

The coupons are good at a variety of thrift stores, repair shops, rental companies and other local businesses that encourage customers to reuse, rent or repair instead of buying new.