A Small Community, Taking Big Steps toward Sustainability

Located in Scott County, Jordan is a small, 3.3 square mile rural center community of 6,200 people that is driven by its broad commitment to sustainability and innovation. Jordan’s City Council and staff are committed to creating lighter environmental footprint. The City works toward sustainability solutions that balance practical concerns of the City’s operations and the need to conserve its unique natural and built environment. The City has been successful in creating pragmatic solutions to sustainability efforts, which provide environmental benefits and many times at great cost savings too.

<div class='lb-heading'>Jordan Public Middle School Natural Light and Improved Building Efficiencies</div><div class='lb-text'>When the Jordan Public Middle School and Community Education and Recreation Center was rebuilt in 2015. The rebuild brought more natural light into the school space and improved building efficiencies, which included updates to lighting and plumbing, as well as LEED Gold certification strategies, native prairie grass land scaping, and sustainable elements. The rebuild reduced the amount of water and electricity used at the school, even with the addition of more uses.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Jordan Public Middle School’s Commons Area - Natural Light </div><div class='lb-text'>The Jordan Public Middle School rebuild has received national recognition and awards. This project renovated an existing facility built in 1965, added flexible learning spaces, and created a Community Center addition. Large glass windows were added to bring natural light into the facility, including to all recreation and meeting areas, as well as into the common area, shown here.</div> <div class='lb-heading'>Greenspace</div><div class='lb-text'>This photo shows an area that was previously surface parking, which was converted to greenspace. Jordan’s City Code requires the preservation of greenspace in every area of the city. For example, in areas zoned for commercial use, businesses are required to build planted parking islands that have 20+ parking spaces. These areas provide shade throughout the parking area and reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the pavement.  </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Jordan Downtown Redevelopment - Downtown Master Vision</div><div class='lb-text'>The City’s Downtown Redevelopment included bump-outs with raised planter areas, decorative paver sidewalk sections, improved walkability,  community branding street light banners, planting numerous trees – adding more trees to every block, historic style way-fairing signage, and decorative benches.</div><div class='lb-link'><a href='' target='_blank'>Downtown Master Vision</a></div> <div class='lb-heading'>Creatively Adapted Brine Sprayer </div><div class='lb-text'>Jordan’s Public Works Department has implemented improvements that advance sustainability and has also saved the City money. The Department creatively adapted an old farm sprayer and four 20-gallon plastic tanks to create a brine sprayer.  The wet brine mixture sticks to the road better, cutting salt use in half. This improvement as well as changed driving practices have eliminated about 120 tons of salt on the roadway in the first year and has saved the City money. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>New Brine Sprayer </div><div class='lb-text'>The cost saving from the City’s original creatively adapted brine sprayer (Previous Image) was reinvested to purchase a more efficient and integrated fleet vehicle salt brine sprayer.   </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Jordan’s Local Wastewater Treatment Plant Purchased Dewatering Bag </div><div class='lb-text'>Jordan Public Works also advanced sustainability efforts with the purchase of a dewatering bag in 2016. The dewatering bag filters silt and sediment from water discharge, saving thousands of dollars and helping to eliminate truckloads to get rid of solid waste. The Public Works Director is coordinate local farmers about the potential reuse of the solid waste as fertilizer.  </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Energy Efficient Upgrades, Like Programmable Motion-Activated Light Sensors at City Buildings </div><div class='lb-text'>The City is a B3 participant and has been making improvements and upgrades the existing and renovated municipal buildings including motion-activated light sensors, LED lighting, increased natural light, Energy Start appliances, public water filling stations, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and monthly HVAC maintenance. </div> <div class='lb-heading'>Social Sustainability Efforts</div><div class='lb-text'>Jordan’s Police Station has partnered with an organization called OfferUp to create a Community MeetUp Spot in the lobby of the station. This Community MeetUp Spot is meant to be used as a safe internet purchase exchange location, as well as a child custody exchange location.</div>
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What may help other communities?

Staff Development Opportunities and Partnerships

As a small City, staff have many roles and responsibilities. Staff remain flexible and work closely with each other to make sure the City operates effectively for residents and businesses. The City utilizes the educational opportunities for staff trainings that allow them to grow professionally. Participation in free programs such as Minnesota GreenStep Cities, the Minnesota Rural Water Association, and the SolSmart Solar Program help the City pursue its sustainability goals with technical, policy, and planning assistance from professionals across Minnesota and the country. The City also leverages the enthusiasm of their interns and staff with education in and passion for environmental sustainability to the City pursue their goals. 

Integrating and Implementing Sustainability Goals and Policies 

With the 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update, the City is working on its first sustainability and resilience plan with the assistance of Great Plains Institute. The City will be incorporating and integrating sustainability goals across the 2040 Plan and supporting those goals and policies with an updated City Code.

The City has an Alternative Energy Systems Ordinance (§ 154.391-394) that provides language guiding the use of Solar Energy, Wind Energy, and Ground Source Heat Pump Systems. In addition, City Code requires the preservation of greenspace in every area of the city to retain the benefits provided by vegetation. City Code stipulates that a Tree and Woodland Preservation Plan is required when building new housing. All residents and businesses must incorporate pervious landscaping; for example, residential uses must maintain 60% or more of the lot as pervious. In commercial areas, planted parking islands are required in 20+ stall parking lots. 

Advancing Sustainability Goals and Saving Money

The City is committed to advancing and providing additional sustainability best practices and was recently recognized as a Step3 GreenStep City in 2017. The City has been implementing successful sustainability practices, while also saving money.  For example, these efforts have included:

  • An executed 25-year community solar garden subscription that will offset 120% of the City’s electricity usage likely saving approximately $2.7million over the life of the contract.

  • An improved pre-wet system for salting roads in the winter that cut salt use in half, while providing better results. In 2017, Jordan Public Works reduced about 120 tons of its roadway salt usage through a combination of creatively adapted salt-brine sprayers and changed driving practices, which also saved the City thousands of dollars. 

  • Investing in a de-watering bag, which simplifies Jordan’s local wastewater treatment process by filtering sediment, which reduced truckload trips to haul solid waste and saved $10,000 in 2016.

  • Offering city-wide organic collection in 2017. Jordan has a new waste hauler and is now one of only a few Cities in the State that offer food and yard waste collection to all residents. Residents are provided background on managing organics, yard waste, solid waste, and recycling. In addition, annual fall leaf and winter tree collection are provided for free to all residents, which help keep excess organic matter out of surface waters. The change to new hauler is anticipated to save a considerable amount of money while also now offering additional services.

Strong Public Involvement Process for Downtown Redevelopment

The City’s Downtown Jordan Master Vision made the downtown greener, denser, and more vibrant. In 2015, Jordan completed a rebuild of its downtown streetscape, which was informed by the City Planning Commission and a significant public engagement process. Redevelopment involved lane width reductions and reduced overall asphalt coverage while incorporating street trees and bump-outs with native planter beds into the streetscape for the first time in Jordan. It also included widening sidewalks, adding bike lanes, and calming traffic. The City has continually invested in park space. A partner organization, Explore Jordan, has designed a historic walking tour and provides maps of the parks and trails for visitors.

Partnering on Extreme Weather Planning 

The City partners with Scott County in emergency preparedness, including exercises to maintain staff readiness for extreme weather events. The City uses an Emergency Operations Plan developed for potential situations produced by catastrophic weather events. Their planning includes identifying and outlining specific precautions to respond to extreme weather events and emergencies. Responsibilities for potential emergency events are assigned to City staff members.   

Jordan is also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update its floodplain maps so that the City and its residents understand where vulnerabilities to flooding exist.

Commitment to Efficiency Upgrades in Public Buildings 

Jordan had an energy audit performed to inform lighting and efficiency improvements for City buildings. The City has been implementing improvements and upgrades in the existing and renovated municipal buildings that reduce impact on the environment and save the City operating costs. Improvements have included motion-activated light sensors, LED lighting, increased natural light, Energy Start appliances, public water filling stations, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and monthly HVAC maintenance.
The City is a B3 energy Benchmarking participant. B3 benchmarking provides energy data for participating public buildings to help manage and reduce energy costs. Energy use of the City’s buildings, including the Council Chambers, Police Department, City Hall, Fire Department Building, and Local Wastewater Treatment Plant are demonstrating improved energy use and efficiencies.

Awards and Recognitions

Contact the City of Jordan

Lucinda Meyers – Planner, (952492-7940[email protected]