Sustainability

Awards and Commitments

The City of Duluth works to use resources responsibly, protect the natural environment, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To help track our progress, the city relies on several partners and programs, outlined below.

Climate Mayors

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson joined America’s Pledge on Climate Change in June 2017. This is an initiative organized in the wake of the White House’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords. This initiative aims to facilitate coordination between leaders in both private and public sectors by organizing events to showcase different efforts, working to quantify the effect of such efforts, and helping to organize options for reducing emissions and achieving the goals of the Paris Accords.

http://climatemayors.org/

 

Climate Emergency Declaration

In April 2021, Duluth City Council passed a Climate Emergency Declaration (21-0256R) to recognize that the effects of climate change are already being felt in Duluth and Northeastern Minnesota. The Declaration called for increased urgency and ambition in the City’s climate goals, and to exceed the goal to reduce emissions 80% by 2050. The Declaration also broadened the carbon reduction mandate to the entire community, not just for municipal emissions. Importantly, the Climate Emergency Declaration called for a Climate Action Work Plan to be submitted to City Council before the end of December 2021 that identifies strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve climate resiliency and adaptation, while focusing on the needs of vulnerable communities. Annual reports are required to demonstrate progress toward achieving the goals outlined in the Climate Action Work Plan.

Green Step Cities MN

MN GreenStep Cities is a 5 step voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help Minnesotan cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. Duluth has been a GreenStep city since 2014 and reached Step 4 in 2020, placing it in the top 30% of participating cities.

City Detail | GreenstepCities

Environmental Initiative Award

In 2021, the City received an Energy and Climate award from the Environmental Initiative for the Duluth Energy System (DES) project to transform a major portion of the thermal district energy system. The project replaced 16 blocks of aged steam pipe with new hot water infrastructure to improve efficiency, water conservation, and performance. The combination of infrastructure improvements, plant upgrades, and a fuel dispatch shift resulted in an over 80% reduction in coal usage. The project reset the lifespan of DES, an important downtown resource, and allows the system to be able to take advantage of other heat sources in the future, such as waste heat recovery and renewable fuels.

America's Pledge

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson joined America’s Pledge on Climate Change in June 2017. This is another initiative organized in the wake of the White House’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords. This initiative aims to facilitate coordination between leaders in both private and public sectors by organizing events to showcase different efforts, working to quantify the effect of such efforts, and helping to organize options for reducing emissions and achieving the goals of the Paris Accords. 

https://www.americaspledgeonclimate.com/

Great Lakes Climate Adaption Network

The Great Lakes Climate Adaption Network was formed in 2015 as a way to ease cooperation between local government staff in the Great Lakes region, including cities in Canada as well as the US, on addressing the challenges presented by our changing climate in this region. This network focuses on consistent updates from involved communities in order to ease collaboration, and on the development of relationships with non-governmental organizations to work together towards a more resilient future.

https://www.usdn.org/uploads/cms/documents/glcan_network_info_may2016.pdf

SolSmart Certification (2017)

Duluth was one of 11 communities to be awarded a SolSmart Advisor through a Department of Energy grant. Over the course of 6 months, Duluth worked with an advisor to address solar “soft costs” and barriers to the use of solar energy in the city, as well as apply industry-leading best practices, allowing the City of Duluth to be officially granted the designation of SolSmart Gold in September of 2017, with a total of 215 points in SolSmart’s rating system.

For more details on how to go solar, check out the “Gong Solar” tab in the “Residents” page.

The City of Duluth would like to thank the Solar Foundation, the Department of Energy SunShot program, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the assistance and the opportunity to participate in the SolSmart Program.

https://solsmart.org/

Imagine Duluth 2035 Commitments

Imagine Duluth 2035 is a comprehensive plan that outlines goals for community development in 6 key areas. This plan takes an innovative approach to development while keeping sustainability and long-term community health at the forefront. The 6 key areas include; Energy & conservation, housing, transportation, economic development, open space, and land use.

https://imagineduluth.com

Climate-Smart Municipalities

Climate-Smart Municipalities is a three-year program, started in 2016, that is organized by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia with the goal of pairing together municipalities from the two states in order to work together towards the common goal of increasing energy efficiency. Each pair is also connected with researchers from the University of Minnesota as well as German institutions, providing them with the analysis and expertise necessary to appropriately address the issues they face.

http://environment.umn.edu/news/five-minnesota-cities-chosen-for-climate-smart-exchange-program-with-germany/

2022 Sustainable City Award

In June of 2022, the City of Duluth was named the recipient of the League of Minnesota Cities’ 2022 Sustainable City Award. Mayor Emily Larson and Sustainability Officer Mindy Granley accepted the Award, which recognizes the City’s work towards achieving sustainability goals that align with the GreenStep Cities program’s 29 best practices. The Award highlighted and honored, in particular, Duluth’s Climate Action Work Plan. The Plan incorporates several GreenStep Cities best practices, including Climate Adaptation, Comprehensive Climate and Energy Plans, and Community Resilience.