A Prospect Park group has drafted its own goals to help the community do its part in meeting citywide energy reduction metrics.
The Prospect Park Association’s environment committee adopted a climate action plan draft Tuesday. If approved by the organization’s board, Prospect Park will be one of the first neighborhoods in Minneapolis to adopt a formal climate action plan.
The City of Minneapolis adopted a climate action plan in 2013 and plans to announce a climate emergency on Monday. City officials and committee members say they hope the plan will serve as a model for other neighborhoods.
Mary Britton, PPA environment committee chair, spearheaded efforts to develop the plan. She drew inspiration from Transition Towns, an international network of communities and neighborhoods that aim to be more self-reliant and reduce their environmental impact. But Britton, who has a background in data science, said she also wants PPA’s climate plan to put more of an emphasis on measurable energy reduction.
“I literally want to see the numbers drop,” she said. “From just the numbers viewpoint, this is going to be fascinating to see what we can do.”
Britton collaborated with Prospect Park resident Jon Urban, who has experience organizing grassroots efforts around climate change. Urban helped Britton develop a draft of the plan and suggested strategies for community engagement.
The plan outlines goals for partnering with groups already working in the community, like South East Seniors, local churches and the University of Minnesota, to find new ways to reduce energy.
He also stressed the importance of creating concrete metrics that the neighborhood can work toward.
“Sometimes the mistake that the local grassroots organizations make is they kind of focus on education, and they don't necessarily have real clear, measurable goals,” Urban said. “You can really easily spin your wheels if you don't have clear, tangible, measurable goals.”
Britton also wants the environment committee to provide Prospect Park residents with the information and resources they need to reduce their environmental impact.
“I want [residents] to be able to come to the committee and say, ‘What can I do?’ I want them to be aware that they can get energy audits. I want them to know what rebates are out there. I want them to feel part of the community,” Britton said.
During its first year, the plan will focus on encouraging residents to have energy evaluations and take steps to increase the efficiency of their homes. In future years, the group also aims to extend this outreach to businesses.
Some large student apartments are operated by management outside Prospect Park, which makes outreach more difficult, Britton said.
Kim Havey, the director of the City’s Sustainability Office, said focusing on home energy usage is the first step in creating a larger impact on the environment.
“We need everybody on deck and I encourage every neighborhood and every organization that has capacity or time and willingness to think about what they could do as an organization to do climate action and reduce our emissions,” Havey said. “The city can lead, but it's all of us together that's going to make it happen.”
After gathering resident feedback, the environment committee plans to introduce the climate action plan to the community during a kick-off event this spring.