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UWS-Superior was able to successfully implement these same sustainable principles in its operations. Here, posing with an electric vehicle, are (bottom row, from left) Mike Kapalin, custodial services supervisor, and Tom Hansen, University Relations; (top row, from left) Dusty Johnson, facilities management engineering specialist and project manager, and Ryan Matara, director of Continuing Education. (Submitted photo)

Column: Is your business or organization ready to join the sustainable list?

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opinion Duluth,MN 55802
Column: Is your business or organization ready to join the sustainable list?
Duluth MN 424 West First Street 55802

Cara Lindberg

For the Budgeteer News 

Calling all Twin Ports businesses and organizations! Are you next?

Often people ask me, “What does Sustainable Twin Ports do?”


STP’s main focus has always been on education and moving from belief in sustainability to action by teaching our neighbors, businesses and public entities how to take meaningful steps toward sustainability.

We train within a world-renowned sustainability framework called The Natural Step (

This framework is developed specifically for businesses and organizations, but easily translates into our daily activities and decision making. STP calls this training “Early Adopter Training.”

According to The Natural Step, this framework addresses the following:

The Natural Step cuts through the noise and confusion by providing a definition of sustainability grounded in peer-reviewed science.

It provides concrete, customized guidelines for how to approach being sustainable in a way that improves the bottom line.

It clarifies how to select the most effective sustainability tools for your specific needs and pathway from amongst the many available.

It offers a way to organize thinking and conversations around sustainability. This creates a common language within your organization and a way to unify efforts so they’re all pulling in the same direction from their various areas of expertise.

It provides mechanisms to deal effectively with sustainability’s greatest challenges.

The training was developed to be broad enough to work for any size and type of business or organization.

For example, 2009 Early Adopters Duluth Grill has found incredible success by implementing The Natural Step sustainability principles in their daily operations. They have found a balance of financial and sustainable success. This success has benefited the environment, the economy and the community, particularly the Lincoln Park neighborhood. That is what STP calls a win-win-win.

Another successful story comes from 2013 Early Adopters UW- Superior. Even though it is a much larger organization than Duluth Grill, it was still able to successfully implement these same principles into its operations. UW-Superior participated in Early Adopter Training in 2008 and again in 2013.

Dustin Johnson, facilities project manager at the university, said, “We wanted to renew our efforts and commitment to sustainability with a new round of participants. We have made great strides in incorporating sustainability into our facilities, operations and curriculum, and we wanted to work to further integrate sustainability into the common culture of UWS.”

UW-Superior has certainly done just that! Sustainable efforts include the addition of the its LEED Silver-certified Yellowjacket Union with a vegetative roof, numerous rain gardens on campus, green cleaning practices, recycling efforts, a fleet of electric vehicles, and the addition of a Sustainability Management degree program.

When asked if UW-Superior would recommend STP Early Adopter training, Johnson said, “We would definitely recommend STP training to other Twin Ports businesses and organizations. We now have a common language, organized efforts to tout, and strategic goals of where we want to be in the near future and beyond. It’s good to step outside of your walls and see where you can take your company or organization with the tools and information STP provides and be part of a movement that’s greater than yourself.”

Thirty Twin Ports businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes have already made the commitment to move from belief to action by participating in Early Adopter training. Is your business or organization ready to join this elite list and start making positive sustainable strides?

STP is now accepting applications for 2014 training, which starts in March. Apply now!

Download an application on the STP website:

Cara Lindberg is the board president of Sustainable Twin Ports. She lives with her husband in the Duluth area. Cara can be reached at