Sustainability is a core value of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). It ensures that everyone can enjoy an outstanding park and recreation system, both today and for generations to come. MPRB continuously develops, updates and incorporates sustainable practices in three key areas:

Environment: MPRB’s mission includes the charge to “permanently preserve, protect, maintain, improve, and enhance” … natural resources, parkland, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations.” Scroll down for more information about environmental sustainability.

Economic: Management and operation of the park system is rooted in maintaining short-term and long-term financial stability, as well as providing work and career opportunities. Find out more in the Budget and Job Opportunities areas.

Equity: Building equity in MPRB’s workforce and the park system ensures that everyone has access to parks and recreation and the opportunities they provide for improved health, well-being, and quality of life. Find out more on the Racial Equity page.

The Minneapolis park system is the backbone of the city’s ecological system. A range of MPRB programs and operations ensure that this parkland is healthy sustainable, and provides equitable ecological, social, and economic benefits long into the future. Many sustainability efforts fall into three key areas:

Reducing Carbon Footprint

MPRB began measuring its carbon footprint in 2019, using 2018 as a starting year. The Board has adopted a goal to reduce our carbon footprint by 10% by 2022 and set new targets.

Learn More and read the Carbon Footprint Analysis report

Powered through Renewable Energy

MPRB has placed eight solar installations on its facilities. This infrastructure helps to reduce the emissions from the power needed to operate these buildings, save money on electric bills, and makes the park system more resilient to a changing climate.

Learn More

A Healthy and Resilient Urban Forest

MPRB is responsible for park trees as well as some 200,000 boulevard trees: public trees between city street curbs and sidewalks. This urban forest provides a range of sustainable benefits.

A sustainable park system requires a range of coordinated efforts over many years. The tabs below highlight some of current areas of focus.


The fastest and most effective way to reduce energy consumption is to increase building efficiency. MPRB is identifying priority facilities for short-term improvements and following sustainable building standards for remodeling and new construction.


In 2019, MPRB had all mechanical systems in recreation centers assessed to identify repairs and upgrades to increase energy efficiency.

In addition, facility energy audits are in process conducted on other buildings that use a larger than predicted amount of energy per square footage to find leaks, identify upgrades, and changes to the building management systems to reduce wasted energy


Reduce the volume of trash and increase recycling and organics.


Complete implementation of single-sort recycling and organics collection program in all parks, recreation centers and other facilities.

In 2017, MPRB expanded organics collection to all public facilities. Staff have been working to build awareness and education about both organics and recycling collection to maximize their use throughout the park system. Learn more here.


Begin a long-term transition to more electric vehicles and small equipment used throughout MPRB operations.


MPRB is installing six fleet charging stations at maintenance facilities. In addition, staff are using a variety of small all-electric landscaping equipment for horticulture and forestry operations.


  • Received a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant for $30,000 to be used to purchase electric vehicle charging stations for the park system’s fleet vehicle.
  • MPRB completes its first Carbon Footprint Analysis to document emissions sources from park operations.
  • MPRB selected as Minnesota Pollution Control Agency GreenCorps Host Site
  • In 2019, MPRB had all mechanical systems in recreation centers assessed to identify repairs and upgrades to increase energy efficiency.


  • Received a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant to test out commercial electric landscaping equipment with MPRB’s horticulture team.


  • Recycling containers added to the entire regional park system along trails, paths, and gathering spaces.


  • Organics recycling expanded to all MPRB indoor facilities including recreation centers, golf clubhouses, and maintenance facilities.
  • Solar RDF Grant from Xcel


  • MPRB introduced tree-watering bags to accompany all newly planted boulevard trees and be collected in the fall by Forestry crews.


  • Elmer the Elm Tree graphics added to all ten forestry department vans, with the reminder to “Water Trees Weekly.” · MPRB’s eight-year Canopy Replacement Plan for Ash Trees launched
  • Year-round outdoor bicycle tire pumps installed at 12 neighborhood parks across the city: Luxton, Van Cleve, North Commons, Webber, Brackett, Powderhorn, Elliot, Loring, Nokomis, Pearl, Lyndale Farmstead and Lynnhurst.
  • Three new trash compactors trucks made waste and recycling collection in regional parks more efficient.
  • Launch of the two-year process to integrate trash and recycling collection at neighborhood parks into the City’s residential collection system.


New Sustainability Strategies:

  • Clearly articulated what sustainability means for MPRB.
  • Activated MPRB’s existing assets in addressing issues of sustainability
  • Innovative 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
  • Communicate our initiatives to cement relationships with key audiences, attract public and staff buy-in, and bring other jurisdictions to the table.


  • Sustainability Action Teams focus on four sustainability 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. Results: 40% of recreation-center “trash” was compostable and 22% was recyclable.
  • 94% of visitors to Minneapolis parks said that being sustainable is important or very important to them personally. 88% of Minneapolis Parks employees agreed.
  • “Be the Park” campaign raised public awareness and celebrated the Minneapolis park system. Be the Park Poster [PDF]


Work teams are created to implement action plans around the following sustainability 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 MPRB’s current sustainability practices.


The Board of Commissioners approved a sustainability plan, which included a strategic outline, Sustainability 2013, for implementing and enhancing sustainable practices throughout MPRB.


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

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