This drone image shows the solar panels on three city buildings – public works, fire station and ice arena. The solar panels were installed in 2020 and provide an estimated $15,000 in annual energy savings.

From the addition of solar panels on public facilities to the promotion of resident participation, the City of Hopkins is ramping up its sustainability efforts in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

Hopkins Management Analyst PeggySue Imihy came on board in May and has been charged with overseeing sustainability and parks planning, as well as advancing the goals on racial equity. She recently shared some highlights and progress the city has made regarding sustainability.

“We’re really proud of the work we’ve done so far,” said Imihy, adding that she is excited to advance the city’s efforts in this area. “And I hope the community is excited and wants to join us in that,” she said.

A lot of the work has been done in energy savings at public facilities.

In 2020, solar panels were installed on the ice arena, fire station and public works building.

“Public Works is almost 100% supplying its own energy through the solar array that’s on the top of that building,” Imihy reported. The solar arrays supply about one-third of the energy for the Pavilion and fire station.

“But I think that’s just such an amazing way that we’ve invested in our facilities to make them more sustainable,” Imihy said.

PeggySue Imihy

Hopkins Management Analyst PeggySue Imihy 

The city is also a part of a community solar garden program where it purchases about 56% of the energy that the city consumes via streetlights, buildings, and park facilities, which does have a cost savings for the community, she noted.

The city has also included electric-vehicle charging stations in the Driskell’s parking lot, as well as the municipal ramp.

“I think we’re going see a lot more residents having electric charging vehicles and so starting to make those improvements is really exciting,” Imihy added.

The city also prioritizes replacements of equipment in city facilities with more sustainable options. This includes conversion of inefficient lighting to LED lighting in all facilities, which is scheduled to be substantially complete by the end of 2021, replacements of high-efficiency rooftop units for air conditioning and the installation of soft start motors in water distribution facilities.

Also, it was recently announced that a GreenCorps member will be joining the team for the next year, helping the city progress in key areas such as waste reduction, air pollution and community sustainability.

“So this member is going to be a really important in addition to our team. We’re super excited to have them,” said Imihy, who will be supervising this role.

This opportunity was the result of a highly competitive grant process through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and AmeriCorps, she noted.

Some of the GreenCorps member’s duties will include:

• Promote resources to strengthen Hopkins’ resilience through waste reduction/recycling/composting/organics management; practices that reduce air pollution, such as active living, the use of multi-modal transportation, and walking and biking to transit, downtown, parks and other destinations; and pollinator friendly native landscaping on public and private lands.

• Research best practices for bee lawns and native landscaping.

• Provide community education and outreach via social media, newsletters, and community events, as well as targeted outreach to property managers and residents of rental housing.

• Promote resources to strengthen Hopkins’ resilience through practices that reduce air pollution, such as active living, the use of multi-modal transportation, and walking and biking to transit, downtown, parks and other destinations.

• Develop recommendations for future sustainability educational opportunities and outreach.

How can residents help?

The city’s updated website offers some tips and resources for residents and business owners seeking to lessen their energy footprint. For example, residents can schedule a visit with the Home Energy Squad to review ways to improve their home’s efficiency and save money.

Residents and businesses can also learn more about efficiency programs and rebate opportunities through Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy.

The city’s website also offers ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, which starts with knowing what products can be recycled locally. Other suggestions include avoiding single-use, throw-away products; using cloth napkins or dishcloths instead of paper towels and paper napkins; using reusable bags when shopping, and composting food waste.

For more information, visit hopkinsmn.com/501/Sustainability.

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Kristen Miller is the community editor for the Sun Sailor, covering the communities of Plymouth, Hopkins and Minnetonka. Email story ideas to kristen.miller@apgecm.com

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