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[GreenYes] Action Alert: University of Minnesota to greenwash garbage burner

(sorry for any cross-postings....)

A little extra at the ball game.....

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, public funds are building a 40,000 seat stadium for the Minnesota Twins baseball team (

The proposed stadium is next to an incinerator burning 1200 tons per day of garbage, tires, and industrial wastes.  Apparently the upper levels will be about even with the tops of the smokestacks.  According to its air permit (expired since 2003, ), this burner is allowed to send over 2.9 million pounds per year of health-damaging pollutants up these smokestacks.  This includes 2200 pounds of lead and 360 pounds of mercury.  (Actual emissions *might* be less.)

The burner is owned by Hennepin County and operated by Covanta, a big burner operator ( The 500 million dollar plus stadium is mostly being funded by a special Hennepin County sales tax.  The state legislature exempted the county from holding a referendum on the project.

Can you eat hot dogs through a gas mask?

Reports paid for by Hennepin County ( claim baseball fans won't be poisoned or stunk out of their seats by toxic garbage fumes.

Longtime Minnesota environmental activist Leslie Davis, trying to halt the ball park until pollution threats were investigated, was told by a Minnesota court he had to post a 45 million dollar bond if he wanted to continue his court fight.     (

Hennepin County seems a bit defensive about all this and wants to "envision a more sustainable image" for the burner.  The University of Minnesota College of Design is helping out:  On Feb 1 and 2, 2008, the College has scheduled a "design charette" to reenvision the burner ( ). "Greenlight charettes bring professionals, faculty, and students of all levels and majors together for a fun weekend of intense design."

February 1st ? 2nd, 2008  College of Design Student News ( ):

"Join our workshop for a great opportunity to work with practitioners, researchers, and fellow students on envisioning a new image for a waste-to-energy facility located next to the new ballpark. Although the majority involved are architects, we do need a lot of graphics help (design and layout of specific image items - both for Greenlight and for the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center).

RSVPs by 1/29/08 to grnlight@no.address if you're interested, or if you'd like more information on who we are and what we do."

What is Greenlight--apparently a student organization--*supposed* to be about?

From the Greenlight mission statement (

"Greenlight is a group of motivated individuals who are looking to revolutionize the way we live, design, build and interact with our environment."  And this:  "While much of our culture is throw away, we at Greenlight feel that if we make our consumption more visible, perhaps we would have a greater understanding of our impacts. The problem with waste is that we can simply toss it into a trash bin, place it at the curb, and a truck will ship it far off, where we are to never interact with it again. If that same garbage began to pile up, we would begin to understand the vast amounts of waste we produce."

"As our membership grows and new leaders take on Greenlight projects, we are hopeful that our life's work at CDES becomes our life's work as design professionals." 

The University of Minnesota College of Design ( claims to lead in "Sustainability and social justice."

The burner greenwashing event is also featured on the site of "Emerging Green Builders--Minnesota," associated with the US Green Building Council (

Seriously, what can we expect if bright young people don't see any conflict between blathering about greenness and sustainability and greenwashing a garbage burner.

ACTION--Let them know how you feel about this:

Greenlight leaders:

Craig Hutchison, hutch174@no.address
Garrett Mosiman, mosi0019@no.address
Chris Petit, petit021@no.address
Nate Tickner, tick0007@no.address
Sarah Wolbert, wolbe012@no.address

Emerging Green Builders Steering Committee:

Matt Nelson - Matt.Nelson@no.address
Jamey Flannery - Jflannery@no.address

Dean of the U of M College of Design:

Thomas Ray Fisher

Head of the School of Architecture:

Renée Cheng
Associate Professor and Head

Alan Muller

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