Rochester is taking climate change seriously. This new position is proof.
With support from the McKnight Foundation, Rochester will soon have an employee dedicated to sustainability initiatives.
The Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency is now interviewing candidates for the position of energy and sustainability manager. According to Lisa Clarke, executive director of the EDA, the employee will be responsible for building a framework for cleaner energy sources, combined with energy-efficient design and construction practices, and conservation measures to help fuel an effective energy and climate action plan.
"The guiding principles of the DMC initiative call for it to be a model for supporting sustainable urban design and building practices to improve and enhance the environment and quality of life," said Clarke.
DMC plans call for a sustainability target to reduce energy consumption by 25 percent in 2030. Separately, Mayor Ardell Brede has made a proclamation that Rochester will aim to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2031.
In addition to its DMC responsibilities, the sustainability manager will devote some time to citywide issues. The city council agreed this week to fund one-fifth of the position as part of its 2017 budget, allowing the employee to spend one day per week working from City Hall.
Rick Morris, clean energy organizer for Sierra Club's North Star Chapter, said creating the position is the "most significant public step" the council has taken to address climate change since establishing the Energy Commission in 2009.
"Rochester has a long road ahead to our clean energy future," Morris told Med City Beat. "This is a huge step down that path."
Morris added that he's confident the staff person will quickly demonstrate their utility, and that the council will eventually see enough evidence to warrant funding for a separate, full-time city position.
"Cities across the US and Minnesota such as Minneapolis, Duluth, and Elk River have recognized that sustainability coordinators are necessary and money saving positions," said Morris.
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