Local Governments Project Planning Resources



Local Governments are uniquely positioned for successful clean energy projects because they have many of the connections needed for a successful project: relationships with local utilities, state and federal government funding, and in many cases they have the decision-making power to move a project forward.

This page starts out by showing you the most recent content from across the CERTs website. Jump to detailed resources.

Local Governments Blog Posts

Castle Community
Chris Meyer
Wed, 01/23/2019 - 4:37pm
A unique collaboration brought energy modeling and efficiency measures into the renovation of the former National Guard Armory in Rochester—now dubbed the Castle Community. The measures are expected to reduce energy use by 20% when the...
David and Lissa facilitate conversation after the film screening and presentations
Lissa Pawlisch
Mon, 12/03/2018 - 4:43pm
On November 27, over 140 people from the Red River Valley attended a film screening of the new documentary, The Power of Minnesota, that took take place at the Historic Fargo Theatre. Event highlights included a social with appetizers, presentations...
Local government staff join tour of energy efficiency improvements at Mankato State University
Chris Meyer
Tue, 11/20/2018 - 2:43pm
On Thursday, November 1st, Southeast Clean Energy Resource Teams (SE CERT) hosted a “Capturing Savings from Public Building Energy Efficiency: Benchmarking through Financing – Getting your Project Done” session at the Minnesota State University,...

Local Governments Case Studies

The Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) recently used grant funding from CERTs to conduct a community survey in Beltrami County, Minnesota in order to identify and understand the community’s renewable energy and energy efficiency financing needs. HRDC partnered with the Sustainability Office at Bemidji State University for the project and...
Saint Paul Energy Coordinator Jim Giebel knows the importance of saving energy for a city government. He oversees the energy usage of over 160 city facilities in Saint Paul, with 3.2 million square feet of space whose collective energy costs total around $8.5 million annually.
Minneapolis has big hopes for renewable energy in the city, with a goal of 1MW installed renewable capacity by 2014. A large step toward this goal was completed in 2011 with six individual solar projects installed along the Energy Innovation Corridor.
Local Governments Project Planning

Looking for technology resources?

Explore technology resources
If you’re looking to learn more about a specific technology, like energy efficiency, solar, or wind, we have what you’re looking for. Our technology resources include everything from basic introductions and frequently asked questions to CERTs case studies to recent reports and organizations that can help you go deeper. Learn more.

CERTs Supported Projects

See CERTs-supported projects
CERTs awards Seed Grants to community groups for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. See projects or learn more about grants.

Detailed Resources for Local Governments

Initiatives & Best Practices

Minnesota GreenStep CitiesCERTs
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices.* Each best practice can be implemented by completing one or more specific actions from a list of four to eight actions. These actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction, and encourage innovation. There are already cities across Minnesota that are working with GreenStep Cities to advance their own sustainability goals. Learn more and get started in your city today!

Best Practices Review: Reducing Energy Costs in Local GovernmentsMN State Auditor (July 2008)
“Some great things are going on in local governments in Minnesota to reduce energy costs. These wise investments not only help hedge against increasing energy costs, but they also can help reduce operating costs,” stated Auditor Otto. The review features nine case studies that highlight best practices in reducing energy costs by cities, counties and school districts in Minnesota, and provides recommendations for steps to best practices, and cost/benefit analyses on different types of technologies and services to reduce energy costs. The review also links directly to financial resources, information resources, and cost calculators.

Green Government InitiativeNational Association of Counties
Launched in 2007, the NACo Green Government Initiative provides comprehensive resources for local governments on all things green, including energy, air quality, transportation, water quality, land use, purchasing and recycling. NACo serves as a catalyst between local governments and the private sector to facilitate green government best practices, products and policies that result in financial and environmental savings. Search their database to find out about green counties in MN.

U.S. Mayors Climate Protection AgreementUS Conference of Mayors
More than 30 Minnesota Mayors have signed on to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which requires that they work to (1) Meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities; (2) Urge state and federal governments to work toward at least a 7% greenhouse gas emission reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and (3) Urge the U.S. Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to establish a national emission trading system.

Cool CitiesSierra Club
Cool Cities encourages cities to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, offers guidance, a rewards those excelling with positive press exposure. Dozens of cities in MN are participating.

Cities for Climate ProtectionICLEI
This is ICLEI’s Local Governments for Sustainability Climate Initiative. Cities who sign up pledge to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their local government operations and throughout their communities. ICLEI helps cities achieve their goals by working through five key milestones. A handful of Minnesota cities are participating.

Canadian Community Energy PlanningNatural Resources Canada
This Canadian community energy program is extensive enough to be considered its own standard. They have compiled a planning guide for communities that is quite broad, with accompanying resources on different technologies and criteria for selecting consultants.

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment
This agreement charges colleges and universities to take the lead on working toward climate neutrality by working to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase the integration of sustainability into the curriculum. Schools that sign on must implement at least two of seven actions. Click here to see MN presidents that have signed on.

Tribal Energy ProgramUS DOE EERE
The Tribal Energy Program promotes tribal energy sufficiency, economic growth and employment on tribal lands through the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The program, part of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, provides financial and technical assistance to tribes for the evaluation and development of renewable energy resources, and provides education and training to help build the knowledge and skills essential for sustainable energy projects.

UK Transition Towns
A number of communities around the world have become “Transition Towns” by adopting the Transition Model for Peak Oil and Climate Change. The focus of this agreement is creativity, ingenuity and adaptability, and each town, village, or city that signs on puts together their own Transition Initiative.

Stray Voltage Resources
Here at CERTs we have been getting a few questions recently about stray voltage with regards to clean energy project, so we thought it would be useful to share some resources for people to learn more. While stray voltage can be a concern in certain situations, it’s unlikely to arise when work is done by professional contractors in partnership with electric utilities.

Local Government Initiatives

Minneapolis, MNSustainability Initiative

Hennepin County, MNCool County Initiative

Boulder, COClimate Action Plan

Seattle, WAClimate Action Plan

Cambridge, MAClimate Protection Initiatives

Santa Monica, CASustainable Santa Monica


Lessons from the Pioneers: Tackling Global Warming at the Local LevelInstitute for Local Self Reliance (January 2007)
This excellent report details the efforts of the first cities in the U.S. who decided to tackle Global Warming in a systematic way, evaluating the success of the cities and looking ahead to a climate movement led by cities.

Improving Energy Efficiency in County BuildingsNational Association of Counties (June 2008)
This simple two-page primer lays out the basics of working on energy efficiency in county buildings, with a snapshot of Minnesota’s Blue Earth County and the hard work they have done to incorporate energy efficient building practices into both their new and existing facilities.

High Performance Cities: A Guide to Energy-Saving Policies for Urban AreasICLEI and The Apollo Alliance (September 2005)
As energy and fuel costs rise, state and local governments lead the way towards energy independence in America by employing strategies ranging from using biofuels in fleet vehicles to retrofitting public buildings to meet minimum energy efficiency standards. In doing so, state and local governments not only help the environment, they also help themselves by cutting energy costs, relieving pressure on tight budgets, and demonstrating the essential value of public investment in new energy technologies.

Green Collar Jobs in America’s Cities: Building Pathways out of Poverty and Careers in the Clean Energy Economy (2008)
This report by The Apollo Alliance and Green For All with Center for American Progress and Center on Wisconsin Strategy is a call to action and an strategic framework for local leaders, policymakers, and advocates to build green-collar jobs for the future in their locality.

Greener Pathways: Jobs and Workforce Development in the Clean Energy Economy (2008)
This report by Center on Wisconsin Strategy, The Workforce Alliance, and The Apollo Alliance highlights greener job prospects in three industries: energy efficiency, wind power, and biofuels, positing that without such a careful focus on key energy sectors, green job policy innovation and workforce training will have a dramatic an impact.

Tools & Standards

Clean Energy Projects You Can Do Now!CERTs

U.S. Green Building Council – Mississippi Headwaters Chapter
The Minnesota Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is a volunteer-driven organization educating and promoting the benefits of sustainable, energy-efficient buildings. They run workshops for local governments who want to learn more about LEED certification, including LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND).

Toward a Sustainable Community: A Toolkit for Local GovernmentUW-Extension Madison, UW-Extension Ashland County, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Superior, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin
The purpose of this toolkit is to provide ideas and descriptions of specific actions that a local government can take to transform itself into a model of sustainable practices. These practices can result in cost savings and increased employment, and enhance environmental quality and community well-being. The message of this toolkit is simple: local governments can lead by example.

The Clean Energy-Environment Municipal NetworkUS EPA
The Network is an informational resource network that supports local governments’ efforts to use clean energy strategies to advance community priorities.

California Climate Action Registry
The Registry is a private non-profit organization originally formed by the State of California that serves as a voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) registry to protect and promote early actions to reduce GHG emissions by organizations, and provides leadership on climate change by developing and promoting credible, accurate, and consistent GHG reporting standards and tools for organizations to measure, monitor, third-party verify and reduce their GHG emissions consistently across industry sectors and geographical borders.

Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX)
The CCX is a financial institution whose objectives are to apply financial innovation and incentives to advance social, environmental and economic goals through the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange. The exchange facilitates legally-binding emissions reductions with emissions trading and offsets for all six greenhouse gases, and project worldwide.

Clean Air & Climate Protection Software
This widely used software is created by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, ICLEI, and US EPA. The software is designed to (1) Track emissions on either a supply or demand side basis; (2) Build emissions scenarios for use in the planning process; and (3) Create a full emissions reduction plan.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol InitiativeWorld Resources Institute
These inventory protocols spreadsheet tools are being used by hundreds of companies and many communities around the world to manage their GHG footprint and make a difference for the climate by developing new products, improving energy efficiency, and participating in GHG programs and markets.

Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission