EcoBLEND Badge recognizes green homes

Plus: nominations open for Watershed Heroes Awards; and leadership training for community gardeners

The team behind the annual BLEND Awards for construction in residential neighborhoods has come up with a new way to honor award-winning homes and businesses that have an eco-friendly component.

This year’s BLEND Awards winners will also be eligible for an EcoBLEND Badge, a recognition that new and newly remodeled homes and businesses can not only blend gracefully into their surrounding neighborhoods, they can be green, too. The awards committee will still hand out one full-fledged EcoBLEND Award to recognize builders, designers and homeowners who go above and beyond in constructing homes with a low environmental impact.

The EcoBLEND Award sets a very high bar, and committee member Keiko Veasey said they wanted the badge to demonstrate all sorts of projects can incorporate eco-friendly building practices and sustainable design without aiming for the lofty goal of LEED certification. It’s a way to say “every little bit counts,” Veasey said.

“It’s sort of like a gold star. It’s an extra stamp of approval,” she said. “Not only are you being awarded a BLEND Award … you’re getting an EcoBLEND Badge on top of it.”

Those submitting a project for a 2015 BLEND Award consideration must complete a short questionnaire to be eligible for an EcoBLEND Badge. The questions cover building design, resource use, indoor environmental quality, water conservation and energy efficiency.

The Fulton Neighborhood Association started the BLEND (Buildings and Landscapes Enhancing the Neighborhood) Awards in 2007 to recognize redevelopment projects that contributed to their neighborhoods and were respectful of nearby homes and homeowners. They highlight innovative designs that are still compatible with their surroundings.

The EcoBLEND Award, added in 2012, made sustainability an additional criteria. The first EcoBLEND Award went to the city’s Hiawatha Maintenance Facility at 1901 E. 26th St. Completed in 2010, the $11-million facility won LEED Platinum certification.

Nominations for both BLEND and EcoBLEND awards are due by July 31. A separate committee evaluates EcoBLEND Award nominees, but Veasey said they hadn’t yet decided as of mid-June which group would determine who qualifies for an EcoBLEND Badge.

To be eligible for either award, the projects must be located in Minneapolis have been completed since July 1, 2010. More information on submitted a project can be found at

This year’s award ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Fulton Brewery in the North Loop and will feature keynote speaker Larry Millett, an author and historian who often writes on the history of Twin Cities architecture.

Veasey said she’s eager for the audience to see the first group of EcoBLEND Badges awarded.

“The exciting part for me is that at the BLEND Awards ceremony we have a whole room full of designers and homeowners and architects and builders, and … it allows us an opportunity to highlight some of the eco-friendly practices that can be very easily utilized in their projects,” she said. “… Our hope is to influence those that might not be doing those steps now to say, ‘Oh, I could do that, too.’”


Nominations open for Watershed Heroes awards

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is accepting nominations for its 2015 Watershed Heroes Awards through June 26.

Awards in seven categories recognize people and organizations for their efforts to protect and promote clean water within the Minnehaha Creek watershed. The 181-square-mile watershed stretches from the western suburbs just beyond Lake Minnetonka to Minneapolis and encompasses the city’s Chain of Lakes.

The 2015 recipients will be honored at a ceremony scheduled for Oct. 1 at the Bayview Event Center in Excelsior. To nominate a person or organization for a Watershed Heroes award, go to


Training community garden leaders

Local nonprofit Gardening Matters is hosting a garden leadership-training workshop June 27 at St. Francis Cabrini Church, 1500 Franklin Ave. SE.

The one-day workshop aims to teach community-garden growers the skills to collectively manage their gardens more effectively. Topics include asset-based community development, collective decision-making and techniques to strengthen a garden’s network of growers and volunteers.

The workshop runs 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and is free for members of one of Gardening Matters’ Local Food Resource Hubs. Non-members pay $25.

Register online at