Reducing our emissions and adapting to a changing climate

Climate Action Work Plan Update

Two people installing solar panels on a flat roof.

The Met Council is committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and making our services and facilities resilient to the impacts of climate change.

We treat about 250 million gallons of wastewater every day, which consumes a lot of energy. As the state’s largest provider of transit services, we own one of the largest vehicle fleets in Minnesota. We operate facilities across the seven-county Twin Cities region.

Our five-year, internally focused Climate Action Work Plan builds on our strong track record of climate change planning and emissions mitigation. The plan unifies our efforts across Met Council divisions, commits our organization to new climate-related initiatives, incorporates environmental justice principles, and aligns with Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework.

Icon of a generic bar chart with blue lines and black lines.Tracking our progress

During the first year (2023) of our five-year plan, we laid a strong foundation for meeting the plan’s five overarching commitments, 21 accompanying strategies, and 73 specific actions. As of February 2024:

  • 95% of Priority 1 actions are under way
  • 4 actions are complete
  • 38 actions are on track
  • 10 actions are on hold
  • 19 actions are scheduled to start in 2024 or later

Implementing zero-emission fleet plans

As of 2023, the Met Council has adopted zero-emission bus transition plans for all our transit services. This includes Metro Transit and Metropolitan Transportation Services (PDF) (Metro Mobility and Transit Link).

Reducing energy use

Reducing our energy use across unique and diverse facilities requires collaboration and expertise. As our operations grow, so do our emissions. Energy efficiency and facility operations are our best opportunities. Currently, we have:

  • Solar at 5 facilities and 35 bus shelters
  • Geothermal at 6 facilities
  • Community solar gardens sited at 3 facilities

While we have been investing in conservation and making process improvements for decades, we know we can do more. In 2023 we established a cross-divisional working group to share expertise and collaborate on energy efficiency and management.

Adapting to climate changes

In 2023, we invested $200,000 to create a second-generation localized flood mapping tool. This internal grant will support a new staff position for the first two years to lead development of the tool. The ongoing position will provide technical assistance to local governments who want to use the tool in their comprehensive plan updates.

Embedding environmental justice into our work

Our Environmental Justice Task Force produced an Environmental Justice Playbook. The playbook identifies high-level processes to embed environmental justice into our climate-related work. We define environmental justice as “the right for all residents to live in a clean, safe environment and have a healthy quality of life.”

The task force continues its work to refine an Environmental Justice Framework that will be incorporated into Imagine 2050 and apply to all the Met Council’s operations and policymaking.

Staffing and training to meet our commitments

In 2024, our Climate Workforce group is assessing the climate-related staffing needed to fulfill the commitments in the plan. Staff vacancies are being filled and new positions may be identified.

More than 80 staff across all divisions went through an in-person orientation to the plan in 2023. This year, we dedicated funding to send up to 120 staff through Envision sustainable infrastructure training. Envision is a framework that encourages systemic changes in the planning, design, and delivery of sustainable, resilient, and equitable civil infrastructure.

In summary, we have 6 working groups to coordinate and act on emissions reduction, adaptation, workforce development, and environmental justice — with more than 50 staff subject matter experts participating.

Tracking emissions

Treating 250 millions of gallons of wastewater each day and providing nearly 49 million transit rides each year takes a lot of energy.

In 2023, the Met Council emitted an estimated 252,000 tons CO2e. That’s about the equivalent of the electricity used by 49,000 homes and the emissions from 56,100 gas-fueled cars for one year.

A graphic of a house and a car that equates the Met Council's total emissions to the number of homes' electricty used or the number of cars driven for one year.

The good news is that our purchased energy emissions have been declining since 2008 because of utility improvements and our past energy efficiency actions. More challenging is continuing to reduce our purchased energy emissions on a large scale and at a fast rate because of our diverse and growing wastewater and transportation operations. Several actions in the climate plan, including establishing energy performance targets and evaluating new renewable energy opportunities, aim to address purchased energy emissions.

Bar chart: greenhouse gas emissions by source, 2015 to 2023.