Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Individuals and Organizations to be recognized for Environmental Achievements in the Community


January 21, 2015

CONTACT:              Tony Benson

Communications Coordinator



Individuals and Organizations to be recognized for Environmental Achievements in the Community


ROCHESTER, MN – Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commission announce the recipients of the 2014 Environmental Achievement Awards. The recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet on January 22 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant contribution in 2014 towards environmental quality in any of the following categories: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.


The 2014 recipients are:


Edward Cohen

Edward Cohen actively educates on climate change and clean energy in the Rochester area and statewide through networking with the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team. Ed has also helped organize discussion panels and public marches to draw attention to climate change and clean energy alternatives. He has helped draw the connection between more frequently occurring extreme weather events and climate change. Ed also serves on the Rochester Energy Commission, has sought grants from RNeighbors for boulevard trees, and has participated in numerous public energy and climate education events.


Gerrard Corporation

Located on the corner of 1st Avenue SW and 6th Street SW, the newly designed Metropolitan Marketplace has an eye catching design. In addition to its modern look, the marketplace displays sustainable site features that mitigate storm water run-off by utilizing structural soils, street trees, and porous concrete pavers in the boulevard. Rain gardens with native plants growing in two feet of top soil effectively control storm water runoff from the parking lot into the public storm sewers. These site modifications also create a safe, comfortable, and ecologically friendly pedestrian environment.


Sister Rafeal Tilton

Promoting energy conservation is a passion for Sister Tilton. To conserve energy and decrease waste, she and the Sisters of Assisi Heights have instituted kitchen waste composting. Composting directly benefits Assisi Height’s garden soils by encouraging vigorous root growth, making nutrients more available for plant uptake, and returning significant quantities of organic matter to the soils. This in turn, helps our community by reducing the amount of municipal solid waste that is transported off the property to be deposited at the Olmsted County Sanitary Landfill or at the Olmsted Waste-to-Energy Facility. The improved soils also enhance water infiltration which reduces stormwater runoff and increases groundwater recharge.


Zumbro Watershed Partnership

The Zumbro Watershed Partnership created an organizational goal of raising public awareness of the Zumbro River and its tributaries in an effort to protect the river. This project took place in the City of Rochester, greater Olmsted County, Dodge County, and Goodhue County. In Olmsted County, 58 new bridge signs now educate the public as to what stream or river they are crossing and inform the public that the waterway is a part of the much larger Zumbro Watershed. There are also 12 new educational signs located in six parks, among the three counties, that give the public information about the role of human activity on the waters of the watershed.


Oronoco Township

Oronoco Township went far beyond the traditional role of townships in helping resident’s fix long standing sewage treatment problems in the King’s Park area. In 2011, the Town Board began working with the Southeast Minnesota Wastewater Initiative to bring the residents of King’s Park together to find a solution to their sewage treatment problems. An earlier study had found that some of the homes had straight pipes that delivered raw sewage to Lake Zumbro. These systems were classified as an “imminent threat to public health.” In 2013, a soil-based shared treatment system was constructed that serves 14 homes in the area to treat nearly 5,000 gallons of sewage each day. The final work on the system was completed in 2014.


Terry and Joyce Grier

Terry and Joyce Grier have played a key role in the bird banding programs offered at Quarry Hill Nature Center. Banding obtains information about migration, longevity, mortality, feeding behavior, and other activities pertaining to birds. The Grier’s expertise has been invaluable to the community as they are actively involved in public education and conservation. People of all ages are able to share an ‘up close and personal’ experience with birds because of the work that Terry and Joyce provide. A strong passion for the environment is evidenced by their involvement with Quarry Hill, the National Audubon Society, and other works promoting environmental education.


Piper Winn

The act of public speaking is consistently rated a top fear among adults, but Piper Winn is no adult. In September 2014, at the age of 8, Piper was asked to speak at the People’s Climate March and Rally in Rochester. Piper prepared her own speech explaining what climate change is and the important role we play in stopping it. As Piper brought awareness to climate change, she was able to relate to her audience and support the community dialog on this important subject.


For more information on energy conservation or the Environmental Achievement Awards visit



About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 49,000 customers. Water customers number more than 37,000. RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive. Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.