Businesses Unveil Innovative and Eco-friendly Initiatives on Earth Day

Updated: 04/22/2013 7:41 PM By: Katherine Johnson

With help from Xcel Energy, trains on the Hiawatha line are moving solely on wind energy this Earth Day with wind harvested from Minnesota wind farms.  On any other day, the light rail consumes 71,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.  You would have to leave a 100 watt light bulb on in your home for 8 years straight to use the same amount of electricity the light rail uses in just one day.  So switching to wind energy can make a pretty big difference.

"This transportation mode which carries 31,000 people on an average week day - can be entirely emissions free and run by wind," said John Siqveland with Metro Transit.  More people are riding than ever before with a record 10.5 million riders in 2012.

At Minneapolis-based Wood from the Hood, Rick Siewert is spinning sawdust into a salary.  Siewert's whole business is based on reclaiming trees considered damaged or diseased and turning them into high-quality hand crafted products for your home.  Unique products from a USDA certified business.  

Right now his shop is filled with dozens of trees that were removed from the Fort Snelling Golf Course after they were infested with the Emerald Ash Borer.  Many would consider them diseased but not Wood from the Hood.

"A lot of the Elm and a whole bunch of the Ash that's coming out of Fort Snelling is actually being turned into swing seats for kids rope swings," said Siewert.

With help from Minneapolis Parks and Recreation, trees deemed only good enough for wood chips and mulch are being turned into tables, chairs and just about anything the consumer requests.

"Anything from just under the bark in is perfectly good wood," said Siewert.

From high-efficiency lighting to plants that purify the office air, Cities Management property management company prides itself on being the greenest in the metro.  Even the floors are part of a green initiative.  The carpets are made 100% out of recycled plastic bottles.

"In our office, you will note that we don't have very many filing cabinets," said Cities Management President Traci Lehman.

That's because the company is also paperless.

"We use less than 25 pieces of paper per homeowner per year.  We have 12,000 homeowners that we are responsible for."

And when employees have to leave the eco-friendly environment for work, they're driving a hybrid.

"We have found that you can be very environmentally friendly and be successful at the same time," she said.