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Cottage Grove takes a green step

The city of Cottage Grove is aiming to get a little greener by seeking an energy-efficient designation from a state-run program.

Cottage Grove City Council members last week OK'd the city to apply for the GreenSteps Cities designation from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Howard Blin, city community development director, said it could be a valuable marketing tag for the city and help Cottage Grove cut energy costs.

The program requires cities to set up energy efficient practices in building efficiency, land use, transportation, environmental management, and economic and community development.

Cottage Grove must adopt 16 of 28 best practices laid out by the program to earn the designation. The city's Sustainability Task Force already recommended a series of efficiency improvements that the city has instituted. That means Cottage Grove is already well on its way to becoming a GreenStep city, Blin said, as the city has already adopted roughly half of the required best practices.

Blin said the GreenStep designation would give Cottage Grove another marketing tool in trying to lure new residents and businesses to town, and could open up opportunities for future funding from state or federal sources.

"For very low cost for expense or staff time, we believe this would be a useful designation," Blin said.