The City of Apple Valley is committed to a sustainable future. Read below to learn about past, current, and future city-wide sustainability projects, goals, and initiatives.
- Grants, Awards, and Recognitions
- Electric Vehicles, Equipment and Charging Stations
- Building a Sustainable Infrastructure
- Natural Resource Management
- In the Community
- Employee Remote Work and Virtual Meetings
- 2040 Plan
MPCA GreenStep Cities Step 5 Recognition
The GreenStep Cities Program is a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Launched in 2010, the program has five levels of recognition for city action.
The City of Apple Valley was officially recognized as a Step 5 GreenStep City on June 14, 2022. This is the highest recognition level possible under the program. Learn more about the City’s efforts here.
Green Globe™ Certifications
The City of Apple Valley has received multiple Green Globe™ certifications for constructing green buildings and renewing existing facilities with energy efficiency improvements. The award-winning design of several public buildings demonstrates the City’s commitment to minimizing its carbon footprint and improving efficiency.
Green Globe™ certification is a series of rating and certification systems that encourage improved environmental and health performance for all types of buildings except residential structures. Green Globes™ is administered in the United States by the Green Building Initiative.
- Apple Valley Liquor Store 3: Certified as Two-Globes, this building utilizes a geothermal heating/cooling system to minimize energy usage for the store and its coolers. This was the first project in the State of Minnesota to be certified by the Green Building Initiative with Two Green Globes. This facility was also the recipient of an Energy Star Award.
- Apple Valley Senior Center: Certified as Two-Globes under the Green Globe rating system, this facility makes use of daylight harvesting and in-floor radiant heating and features a green roof.
- Valleywood Clubhouse: Certified as Three-Globes, this building features extensive use of daylighting to minimize artificial lighting among many other energy-efficient elements.
Tree City Certification
Apple Valley has been a member of Tree City USA since 1984. Standards to become a certified Tree City include:
- Maintaining a tree board or department
- Having a community tree ordinance
- Spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry
- Celebrating Arbor Day
The City aims to include trees throughout the City to sequester carbon, reduce energy usage, remove air pollutants, filter stormwater, and cool hot city streets by providing shade and releasing water vapor.
For example, the City's downtown Ring Route is approximately 2.75 miles long and contains 417 established trees. Trees are planted in 4' by 4' openings on decorative concrete boulevard surfaces and are spaced approximately 25' apart.
Better Energy Grant Projects
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the City of Apple Valley was allocated $441,500 for its share of the block grants. The city submitted an application for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program on June 25, 2009. On September 14, 2009, the city was awarded the grant funding.
The funded projects were based on formal energy audits conducted at the police facility, the Central Maintenance Facility, and the Water Treatment Plant in 2009, and basic lighting audits conducted at the three fire stations. Using the expertise of the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), staff targeted improvements that would provide the most benefit and return on investment for the city. The grant application also included $110,576 in additional funds that would be leveraged for the projects from ISD 196 and Dakota Electric rebates, raising the total project cost to $552,076.
In summary, the plan included: $5,100 for assistance from the CEE in developing the plan; $104,603 to retrofit lighting in the three fire stations, Liquor Store #1, the police facility, the Central Maintenance Facility, and the Water Treatment Plant; $166,900 for building automation systems and HVAC improvements to the police facility, the Central Maintenance Facility, and Water Treatment Plant; $155,000 to upgrade and replace the boilers in the Sports Arena; $15,000 for an LED streetlight study project; $20,000 for the study and engineering of the Central Maintenance Facility HVAC improvements; $35,473 for additional administrative (engineering and legal) costs in further analysis and administration of the grant; and $50,000 to use in conjunction with our community-wide energy efficiency effort that provides direct support to residents through a revolving loan fund.
Better Energy for Businesses
Apple Valley businesses are showing that energy efficiency makes sense for their bottom line and the environment. Since 2007, Apple Valley businesses have worked with Dakota Electric and Center Point Energy on over 100 efficiency projects and cut their annual energy bills by over $285,000.
In partnership with the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce and with input from Apple Valley business leaders, Better Energy is finding ways to help businesses cut their costs by saving energy. Two roundtable meetings identified the following opportunities:
- Benchmarking to help businesses compare their energy use and costs to industry peers
- Bulk purchasing of proven, low-cost, and quick-payback efficiency devices
- Conducting an energy survey to identify progress and opportunities throughout the business community
- Energy survey for businesses that lease their space
- Energy survey for businesses that own their space
- Connecting businesses to efficiency rebates and utility programs
- Employee "green teams" to save businesses money through no-cost behavior solutions
- Exploring ways building owners and tenants can both benefit from energy efficiency
- Recognizing energy-efficient businesses
2018-19 Facility Energy Efficiency Projects
From 2018-2019, the City completed a series of energy efficiency and sustainability projects for many City facilities. The EPA Greenhouse Gas savings from these projects equates to 630 metric tons of CO2 annually or the equivalent of 91 cars not operating on the roadway.
The total investment of $2.8 million generates annual energy, operations, and management savings of over $133,000 per year. This represents an approximate 12% reduction in the City's annual utility costs.
New Facility Updates Prioritize Sustainability
The City uses software for planning capital repairs, improvements, and replacements across all the departments. Items with greater energy use and opportunities for new energy efficiency solutions are prioritized for replacement. Standards for new facility construction include Green Globe™ Certification.
Green Apple Valley Municipal Center
The Apple Valley Municipal Center is an example of an early green civic building featuring extensive use of daylight to minimize artificial lighting, energy control systems, and an innovative stormwater management system. The green design of the Apple Valley Municipal Center earned recognition in several publications, including Architecture MN, American City and County, and Construction Bulletin.
LED Lighting and Improvements
New facilities and improvements to existing facilities include LED, energy-efficient lighting. In addition, staff areas are equipped with motion-sensor lighting. Additionally, new facilities are being built to include as much natural lighting as possible.
Energy-Saving and Water-Efficient Appliances and Systems
New facilities and improvements to existing facilities include energy-saving and water-efficient appliances and systems, such as boilers, faucets, toilets, irrigation, HVAC, etc.
Example: A new irrigation system to be installed in 2023 at Valleywood is estimated to reduce water consumption by approximately 20%
Waste Recycling Efforts
The City has incorporated a number of recycling efforts at our facilities. Some examples include:
- Garbage (aluminum, glass, plastic, paper, cardboard, etc.) recycling
- Organics recycling
- Used oil and oil filter recycling
- Using non-disposable shop rags which are cleaned and reused
- Anti-freeze recycling
- Floor dry recycling
- Aerosol can recycling
- Used tire recycling
- Scrap metal recycling
- Organic waste recycling
Adding Electric Vehicles to the City’s Fleet
The City currently has one Electric Vehicle (EV) as part of the City’s fleet. Additionally, there are two more EVs on order and expected to be delivered by the end of 2022. A grant was received from the City’s electric utility provider, DEA, toward the purchase of the two additional EVs. The City will continue to look to expand the use of EVs within the City’s public fleet.
Electric Utility Vehicles and Equipment
Electric utility vehicles currently in use by the city include electric golf carts, electric ice edgers, and electric ice re-surfacers.
In 2020, the City received a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to replace gas-powered equipment with electric, battery-powered equipment. Battery-powered equipment has replaced over 80% of the City’s handheld inventory, including leaf blowers, weed whips, hedge trimmers, pole saws, and a push mower.
The City plans to continue replacing gas-powered equipment and vehicles with battery-powered alternatives
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
In 2020, the City installed a dual electric vehicle charging station available for public use at the Apple Valley Municipal Center. Future additions of charging stations are being considered with upcoming projects. The City also encourages the inclusion of electric vehicle charging stations in private developments, such as retail spaces, hotels, and housing.
Apple Valley’s local transit options through Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) provide the community with public transportation to a variety of destinations both in Apple Valley and in the surrounding area. Public transportation reduces overall vehicle emissions and pollutants.
As part of the City’s annual road and utility improvement projects, the City reviews the condition of older, aging watermain pipes that are prone to leaks and breaking. This information then helps inform the decision-making process on whether or not to replace the existing watermain pipes. When replacement is warranted, the City uses more durable PVC pipe to minimize the risk of leaks in the future.
Drip Irrigation Landscape Beds
The City has employed a conservative approach to watering landscape median beds by utilizing drip irrigation systems in medians along both Cedar and Galaxie Avenues. Drip irrigation systems provide water directly to the ground surface where it can easily soak in and not be wasted. These systems are more efficient than common spray irrigation systems where a portion of the water is inevitably lost to evaporation, sprayed on areas not intended to be watered, and easily influenced by wind.
MN Energy Conservation Code Implementation by Building Inspections
The City Building Inspections Division implemented the new Energy Code upon adoption by the State of MN in early 2020. The new code provides energy-conserving standards for the design, construction, alteration, renovation, and repair of residential and commercial buildings. Below are some of the energy-saving examples within the new Energy Code:
- Sealed and insulated ducts delivering warm and cool air to desired locations, as opposed to inside walls and floors
- Energy efficient window replacements reduce gas and electric bills
- Air barriers in new construction provide more energy-efficient homes
- Programmable thermostats help to save energy
- Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) create a healthier home environment by replacing stale indoor air with clean, fresh, outside air. These units also reduce humidity, pollutants, odors, and recycle heat from the exhaust air and transfer it to the fresh incoming air as it enters your home.
- Economizers allow for free cooling by opening dampers to bring in more outside air when the outdoor conditions are favorable, reducing the need for mechanical cooling and saving energy.
Solar Powered Signs and Utility Sites
The City has utilized solar power for various off-premise applications like driver feedback signs and to provide power for communication/security devices at utility well sites. This has both saved costs and reduced the need for fossil fuel-powered electric service at remote sites.
Sidewalk and Trail Maintenance
Each year, the City maintains over 200 miles of public sidewalks and trails which enable bicycle use and other forms of non-car transportation.
North Creek Greenway
The North Creek Greenway will establish a 14-mile paved trail through Eagan, Apple Valley, Lakeville, Farmington, and Empire providing a key transportation route for non-motorized travel. As the landscape around North Creek evolves, the corridor assumes heightened importance as a defining natural feature.
Some segments of the trail are already complete and are currently in use, including a trail underpass below Pilot Knob Road that connects the transit station to the Cobblestone Lake area, which includes a mix of residential housing types and retail such as Super Target.
Emerald Ash Borer Management
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a destructive insect that has killed millions of ash trees since being discovered in the U.S. in the early 2000s. EAB attacks all species of ash trees and typically causes tree death within a few years. The EAB insect and the resulting tree damage it causes was first discovered in Apple Valley’s ash trees in early 2016. Since that time, the amount of EAB infestation has increased each year.
The City created an EAB Management Plan which lays out a strategy to deal with the ash tree devastation. The City is continuously inspecting ash trees for EAB. Trees afflicted with EAB are immediately either treated, or if necessary, removed. When trees are removed, they are re-planted with a diverse assortment of tree species to help mitigate the impact of future tree bugs or diseases.
For a number of years, the City has provided free inspections for residents of suspected EAB-infested ash trees. Based on the inspection, if the tree is still healthy, it may be a candidate for chemical treatment, which the City offers at a discounted cost from a local contractor. If it is a public boulevard tree that needs to be removed, the City will offer a free tree to be replanted in the adjacent resident’s yard.
Forestry staff routinely inspect ash trees for symptoms of EAB and also offer free inspections to property owners. As of 2021, confirmed EAB infestations have been found citywide and in each of the cities surrounding Apple Valley. Infested trees are required per City Ordinance (152.45) to be properly removed and disposed of to limit the spread to healthy ash trees.
Buckthorn is an invasive plant introduced into the United States from Europe many years ago, and today is commonly found in most natural and wooded areas. If left unmanaged, buckthorn generally will overtake native understory plants and become the dominant plant species. Property owners are encouraged to remove buckthorn to sustain and/or promote native plant communities.
The Public Works Department assists residents with buckthorn management by providing on-site consultation and use of City-owned pulling tools. The City also worked collaboratively with Great River Greening to remove buckthorn in Alimagnet Park.
Stormwater Quality Improvements
Each year the City dedicates a significant part of the Stormwater Fund toward improvement projects in an effort to improve the water quality of the City’s lakes/ponds. Recent examples of these projects include:
Erickson Park Stormwater Improvements
This project improved the water quality in Long and Farquar Lakes. It did this by increasing the storage and infiltration of the existing pond. The project also included the removal of excess sediments containing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) that had accumulated within the pond along with the addition of new trees, shrubs, and native plants. The City successfully leveraged grant dollars from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Fund and the Vermillion River Joint Powers Organization to expand the stormwater system to provide better water quality treatment to protect Long and Farquar Lakes.
Redwood Pond Expansion
This project improved the water quality of Keller Lake by expanding a major pond that directly contributes stormwater to it. The expansion and stormwater modifications increased the water quality treatment volume for a contributing watershed of approximately 170 acres. The project also included the removal of excess sediments containing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) that had accumulated within the pond.
Johnny Cake Ridge Road Clean Water Projects
The City of Apple Valley reconstructed a portion of Johnny Cake Ridge Road. The City partnered with the Vermillion River Watershed to install several stormwater best management practices on the road right-of-way and on adjacent public property during the reconstruction. Practices constructed include boulevard rain gardens with pollinator plantings, tree trenches, and underground sediment collection devices. The project is anticipated to reduce phosphorus in Long Lake by 8.9 pounds per year, which is about 17 percent of the remaining watershed phosphorus load reduction needed to meet water quality goals.
Rain gardens collect rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground. Planted with native grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost-effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff, filter sediment, and reduce the amount of phosphorus naturally through soil and plants that would otherwise enter the environment.
In 2018, in partnership with the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District (DCSWCD), the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization, and the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR), the City of Apple Valley installed two rain gardens outside Hayes Arena and the Apple Valley Community Center.
The City also partnered with the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization, Falcon Ridge Middle School, and the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District to build rain gardens designed to reduce nutrient levels in Long and Farquar Lakes.
Rain gardens have also been installed at over 40 City facilities and parks and will continue to be included in future park improvement plans.
Native plantings are included whenever possible at City facilities to provide vital habitat for animals and benefit the environment. These facilities include City parks such as Erickson Park, Redwood Park, Quarry Park, Lac Lavon Park, Longridge Park, Apple Grove Park, Carrollwood Park, Belmont Park, Moeller Park, Huntington Park, Tintah Park, and more as well as City buildings such as Hayes Arena, the Apple Valley Community Center, Fire Station 3 and more. The City requires native plant buffers around ponds and also continually works to maintain and enhance existing native buffers
Erickson Park also features bee hutches to create a habitat for bees. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that pollinators like bees and butterflies help pollinate approximately 75% of the world's flowering plants.
In addition to City property, Apple Valley residents are also encouraged to plant native gardens on their private property. Residents can receive up to $750 to enhance their yards with native plantings or rain gardens. The City offers this incentive for private property owners with our Rainwater Rewards grants and by partnering with the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Landscaping for Clean Water program.
Dakota Valley Recycling (DVR) is the partnership recycling department for the Cities of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, and Lakeville. The City of Apple Valley works with DVR to connect residents and businesses with recycling, composting, and waste disposal information.
In partnership with Dakota Valley, the City hosts a variety of events and programs that allow and encourage residents to responsibly dispose of and recycle their unwanted items. These include a citywide clean-up day, shred events, mattress disposal pick-up, shoe, and sports equipment recycling, and more.
In partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the City promotes training opportunities for the community to learn about various topics in sustainability including hazardous waste, smart salting, and more.
For a number of years, the City has provided an opportunity for Apple Valley property owners to stop by the Central Maintenance Facility (CMF) and pick up free mulch for their yard/landscape areas. The main benefit of mulch is that it helps keep the ground it covers warm and moist, thereby decreasing the need to irrigate the area as often as non-mulched areas.
Future Organics Drop-Off Site
City staff, in partnership with Dakota County Environmental Resources staff, are planning for the installation of a residential organics drop-off site at the City’s Central Maintenance Facility (CMF). This will help to eliminate organics waste that is currently included in the trash and ends up in landfills. Staff anticipates the new site will open in 2023.
The City's free WaterSmart portal allows residents to manage their water usage. Using the WaterSmart portal, residents can track how much water they’re using and identify potential water leaks in their homes. The WaterSmart portal grants instant access to household water reports so residents can track trends and identify opportunities to conserve water and save money. Residents can also set up alerts to get notified of excessive water usage and browse tips for how to more efficiently use water. The WaterSmart portal allows residents to be more mindful of their water usage and reduce their water usage.
Water-Efficiency Rebate Program
The Metropolitan Council, through funding from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment, has awarded the City of Apple Valley a $35,000 water efficiency grant. As a result of this grant funding, the City of Apple Valley is offering rebates to residents who replace existing devices with specified water-efficient appliances purchased July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2024 (or until funds are depleted). By offering an incentive for residents to switch to water-efficient appliances and devices such as toilets, irrigation controllers, and washing machines, the City is helping to encourage water conservation among residents.
The City has adopted a virtual server architecture where multiple virtual servers, which are function-oriented or application-based processes, are hosted and run independently on a small number of dedicated physical servers. This architecture reduces physical space requirements, as well as lowers operating costs due to potential reduction in power and cooling demands.
Remote or Hybrid Work Capabilities
The City has enabled secure remote or hybrid work capabilities for a number of its employees, initially in response to the pandemic. While not suitable for all jobs, a part-time remote or hybrid work arrangement offers greater flexibility and creates less demand for city facilities and resources. Additionally, travel is reduced creating savings in time, fuel, and carbon output
The City has embraced online meeting options, for both staff and public meetings. Citizens can fully participate remotely in many public meetings, such as City Council meetings and Planning Commission meetings. Likewise, employees have the ability to schedule and participate in online staff or project meetings remotely, increasing efficiency and reducing potential travel time and expenditures.
2040 Comprehensive Plan
The City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan includes land use policies, programs, and efforts for the next 10 years related to the topic of sustainability. Many goals outlined in the plan have been reached or are in progress.
Some future projects, goals, and initiatives include:
- Supporting a system of arterials, local streets, sidewalks, and trails that distributes traffic more broadly and improves opportunities to walk and bike.
- Increasing local and regional transit ridership.
- Minimizing energy waste and increasing the role of renewables in the public and private sectors.
- Encouraging developments to make effective and appropriate use of renewable energy sources, including increased use of distributed solar, wind, geothermal evaluation, biogas, and solid waste utilization.
- Reducing energy demand by educating and incentivizing the public to increase conservation and reduce consumption of electricity and water use.
- Encouraging electric vehicle charging stations where they are needed and appropriate.
- And much more.
For more information on future City sustainability projects, goals, and initiatives, see the 2040 Comprehensive Plan here.