Sustainability is one of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s core values. Throughout the organization, we strive to incorporate sustainable practices into the work we perform every day, in our parks and recreation centers and in our offices. We know that our patrons value sustainability, and so do we.

3E Sustainability

We implement the Sustainable Parks® initiative emphasizing our commitment to sustainability in three ways every day:

Sustain and enhance parklands, waters and urban forests.

Develop short-term and long-term financial stability of the park system.

Provide residents with the opportunity to improve their quality of life and well-being through outstanding parks and recreation services that are suited to their respective needs

Our goal with “3E sustainability” is to ensure lasting benefits for the community by:

  • Reducing our impact on the environment.
  • Being more money smart with public dollars.
  • Providing opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of Minneapolis parks and programs today and into the future.

Sustainable Parks® Priorities

Minneapolis Park Board Commissioners prioritized four Sustainable Parks® initiatives for immediate action.

  1. Increase building efficiency by identifying priority remediation sites and setting more stringent standards for remodeling and new construction.
  2. Increase the number of sustainable events by introducing Events Go Green! and piloting new Certified Green Events guidelines.
  3. Promote the importance of our Urban Forest and encourage community members to value and care for our trees.
  4. Reduce the volume of trash with a new easy-to-follow single sort recycling and composting Waste Management program in all parks and recreation centers.

History of Sustainability

Sustainability is identified in our 2007-2020 Comprehensive Plan as one of five core values upon which the Park Board bases its everyday work.

A sustainability plan prepared by GreenMark was approved by the Board of Commissioners. The plan includes a strategic outline, Sustainability 2013, for implementing and enhancing sustainable practices throughout the MPRB. Implemented in concert, these efforts will help the MPRB become the park and recreation system of the future.

Five work teams are created to implement action plans around the Board’s priorities for the following strategies:

Make buildings energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.
Broaden the strategic application of the Urban Forest to include multiple benefits.
Re-organize waste management strategies.
Events go green!
Educate residents and staff on current sustainability practices.


  • Sustainability Action Teams focus on four Sustainable Parks® initiatives.
  • Sustainable practices were piloted at 8-10 Minneapolis Parks Special Events in 2012.
  • “Certified Green” events began popping up throughout Minneapolis Parks.
  • Minneapolis Parks employees sorted more than 300 pounds of trash from six recreation centers and Park Board headquarters for an indoor waste study. We discovered that 40% of recreation center “trash” was compostable and 22% was recyclable.
  • 94% of Minneapolis Parks visitors said that being sustainable is important or very important to them personally. 88% of Minneapolis Parks employees agreed.
  • “Be the Park” campaign began to raise public awareness and celebrate the Minneapolis Park System. Be the Park Poster [PDF]


Strategies for Sustainability Identified

  1. Create the foundation to clearly articulate what sustainability means for the MPRB
  2. Activate the MPRB’s existing assets in addressing issues of sustainability
  3. Innovate signature projects and relationships that will help leverage new assets, deliver higher quality services to customers and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Minneapolis
  4. Communicate our initiatives to cement relationships with key audiences, attract public and staff buy-in, and bring other jurisdictions to the table.

Implemented in concert, these efforts will help the MPRB become the park and recreation system of the future


  • As part of the Park Board’s sustainability initiative, all 10 Forestry vans now feature Elmer the Elm Tree reminding people to “Water Trees Weekly.”
  • Year-round, durable outdoor bicycle tire pumps  installed at 12 parks across the city: Luxton, Van Cleve, North Commons, Webber, Brackett, Powderhorn, Elliot, Loring, Nokomis, Pearl, Lyndale Farmstead and Lynnhurst.
  • Three new trash compactors  purchased to collect trash and recycling more efficiently in regional parks and software  installed to develop efficient collection routing.
  • Trash and recycling collection at neighborhood parks was integrated into the City’s system.


  • Tree-watering bags accompany all newly planted boulevard trees, to be collected in the fall by Forestry crews.
  • Additional trash and recycling collection at neighborhood parks integrated into the City’s system.