Convention Center efficiency improving


Minneapolis Convention Center officials were joined by Mayor R.T. Rybak in January to announce their progress toward resource conservation goals set last year for the 23-year-old facility.

Convention Center Executive Director Jeff Johnson last February announced a three-year plan to reduce water and energy use and increase recycling rates at the facility by 2015. On Jan. 4, Johnson said Convention Center staff already had “shattered” the energy efficiency goal, improving efficiency by 20 percent over the course of the year.

He said the Convention Center was “operating at 30-percent more efficient than similar buildings” in comparable climates, saving an estimated $1 million in operating costs over the past 12 months. A variety of strategies, including turning off lights and escalators when not in use, replacing some light fixtures with new LED lights and getting Convention Center staff involved in energy conservation efforts, contributed to the success, he said.

The Convention Center has much further to go toward a goal of cutting water usage in half over three years. Water use was down 6 percent from 2012 thanks to new restroom fixtures and installing a more efficient dishwasher, Johnson said.

He said the facility already had reached a 50 percent recycling rate, but Convention Center officials still aimed to reach a 75 percent recycling rate by 2015. They’re also launching a new composting program for organic waste this year, he added.

Johnson is aiming even higher for the Convention Center. Plans to upgrade the building’s heating and cooling systems and to capture and reuse rainwater for irrigation are both intended to make the Convention Center eligible for a special category of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status that applies to existing structures.

The Convention Center improvements go hand-in-hand with efforts by Meet Minneapolis, the nonprofit convention and visitors bureau, to make environmental stewardship part of the city’s brand. Last year, when Johnson first announced the conservation goals for the Convention Center, he did so in front of a brand-new floor-to-ceiling interactive “eco-display,” a map of Minneapolis highlighting green projects and initiatives, like the Nice Ride Minnesota bike-sharing program.

This year, Meet Minneapolis CEO Melvin Tennant announced the “Go Minneapolis Getaway” sweepstakes to award a two-year lease for a 2013 Chevy Volt gas-electric hybrid. A winner of the vehicle donated by Select Heartland Chevy Dealers will be selected March 16 during the 40th-annual Twin Cities Auto Show, which runs at the convention center Mar 9–17.

For more information on the sweepstakes, go to

Climate group to hear from oceans scientist

The local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby will listen in on a national conference call on ocean acidification during its February meeting.

Martin Tresguerres, a professor of marine biology at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, is scheduled to give the monthly phone address to local chapters of the lobby across the U.S. and Canada. Tresguerres’ lecture (“Ocean Acidification — Can Corals Cope?”) will address the effects of oceans absorbing some of the higher levels of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, including acidification of ocean waters, which threatens marine life.

The 5th Congressional District chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby meeting is 11:45 a.m.–2 p.m. Feb. 2 at Linden Hills Recreation Center, 3100 W. 43rd St. National conference calls are held on the first Saturday of every month.

For more information on the local chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby or the February meeting, contact Paul Thompson at (952) 920-1547 or [email protected]

To learn more about Citizens Climate Lobby, go to

Ash borer remains a threat

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board foresters were scheduled to remove an estimated 200 ash trees from the Fort Snelling Golf Club in mid-January after the discovery of an emerald ash borer infestation at the site late in the summer.

It was a reminder that the invasive Asian beetle remains a serious threat to the state’s nearly 1 billion ash trees. Ash trees also make up a significant portion of the urban forest in Minneapolis, where the state’s first identified emerald ash borer infestation was discovered in 2010 at Tower Hill Park.

The pest has yet to be confirmed in any Southwest neighborhoods, but based on its spread in other parts of the country, it may just be a matter of time. Emerald ash borer is believed to have killed tens of millions of ash trees over the past decade.

Hennepin County remains under a quarantine from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture that restricts the movement of firewood and other wood products in an effort to control the spread of emerald ash borer.

To learn more about emerald ash borer, how to identify infested trees or the rules of the quarantine, go to and click on “Urban Forest.”

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected]