Matt Massman, Minnesota’s commissioner of administration, oversees a far-flung network of buildings, vehicles and other equipment used by 30,000 state employees.

He noted last week that the state capitol complex has cut its energy use by 24 percent over a decade thanks to money-saving investments, largely in things like new windows and efficient HVAC equipment.

“We save about $2 million a year,” Massman said last week. “We also have 226 hybrids and 16 electric vehicles in our fleet of 2,000. State agencies have been reflecting the value of energy and environment. We do need to get more focused.”

He and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who came out of the business world, want to emulate some of the big companies such as Cargill and General Mills that have pledged to double-down on energy savings and decreased carbon output over the last decade from their far-flung empires.

They were behind Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent order to reduce fuel consumption by 30 percent over the next decade, including more electric vehicle replacements; cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2027 and slash water usage by 25 percent by 2025. And Dayton wants state operations to boost recycling and composting of waste to a combined 75 percent.

This comes out of my business background and our responsibility to run this enterprise well,” Smith said. “We have that moral, ethical and economic responsibility. Cargill and Best Buy have that responsibility. The same way of thinking.

Recent studies indicate that Minnesota conservation-and-alternative energy industries are producing jobs at double-or-more the rate of the overall economy. The state lacks fossil fuels, and wind and solar industries are among its fastest growing.

Massman has secured a $200,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation to set up a digital “dashboard” that will monitor six “strategic sustainability categories” by the office of enterprise sustainability, established last year.

“This is about being systematic,” said Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine. “Instead of one department working on composting, while another looks at sustainable purchasing, we’re all following the same map.”

Earlier this year, the top executives of some of Minnesota's biggest companies, including Target and 3M, urged the Trump administration to not back out of the Paris climate-change accords.  

Since then, more corporations and states, including Minnesota, California, New York and others, have redoubled their effort to cut fossil-fuel use and embrace conservation and alternative energies such as fast-growing wind-and-solar power.

 Mehmet Konar-Steenberg, an expert in energy and environmental law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said at the time of the Trump withdrawl from the climate accord: “The rest of the world is not going to say, ‘Let’s follow the United States backwards on climate change.’ ”

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