In 2019, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board adopted new performance goals for the agency. These goals set measurable, ambitious, and achievable milestones to work towards across the agency’s divisions and departments. Goal C1 was to “Reduce the MPRB’s Carbon Footprint by 10% by 2022 and set new targets.”

Working with researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, data for a baseline carbon footprint for 2018 was collected and analyzed. The data for fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, and propane that are consumed by MPRB’s operations were analyzed, then converted into an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2e); this process allows for comparisons across a variety of park operations and types of greenhouse gases. The result of the analysis gives a total amount of all emissions that MPRB’s operations generate: its carbon footprint. In 2018, MPRB’s carbon footprint amounted to 14,015 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mt CO2e) emitted. This amount can be broken down into three categories:

  • 60% Electricity and natural gas used to power and heat park buildings and facilities
  • 23% Gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles and large engine units
  • 15% Gasoline, diesel, and propane for small engine and handheld equipment used to maintain the park system
  • 12% Miscellaneous Operations (includes items such as solid waste, water, wastewater and fertilizer)

While MPRB has been working for years to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon footprint data and analysis allows for more strategic and measurable reductions going forward. For more information on these efforts, visit the Sustainability web page.

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Buildings Energy

Energy use in buildings accounts for some of the largest sources of GHG emissions worldwide, and similarly makes up a large portion of annual emissions at MPRB. Day-to-day building operations such as lighting, space heating and cooling consume large amounts of electricity, while heating both buildings and water requires high levels of natural gas consumption.

Buildings are responsible for 8,427 mt CO2e at MPRB, or 60% of MPRB total emissions footprint


In 2018, total electricity consumption for buildings was roughly 10.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh). Building electricity emissions are responsible for 4,754 mt CO2e, or 33.9% of MPRB’s total emissions footprint. Recreation centers account for the largest organization-wide electricity consumption, followed by maintenance/storage buildings, ice arenas, and indoor pools. Recreation centers also have the largest building footprint at MPRB, making up 45% of total property area by square footage.

Natural Gas

Total natural gas usage in 2018 was 690,000 therms. This equates to 3,673 mt CO2e, or 26.2% of MPRB’s total emissions footprint. Like electricity, recreation centers accounted for the largest portion of natural gas use at 42%. Ice arenas accounted for the second-highest users of gas at 19% of the total, as well as 18% of total electricity use.

Large Engine Operations

Large engines produce a significant portion of emissions from MPRB operations: 1,806 mt CO2e, or 12.9% of MPRB’s total emissions footprint. The large engine sector includes any vehicle or unit that weighs more than 1,000 pounds or is serviced by the large engine shop. These vehicles are used for either daily operations or business travel. Daily operations can be broken down by fuel type while business travel is broken down by air and car travel, Daily operations account for the majority of large vehicle emissions at MPRB.

Small Engine Operations

Small engines are defined as vehicles or units that weigh less than 1,000 lbs. or are serviced by the small engine shop. There are three types of fuels that are accounted for in small engine equipment operations: diesel, propane, and gasoline. Small engines are responsible for 2,039 mt CO2e, or 14.6% of MPRB total emissions footprint.

Miscellaneous Operations

The Miscellaneous Operations sector includes other functions that parks provide that are not specifically focused on buildings or vehicular equipment. This includes non-building electricity (e.g. park lights), cement for sidewalk replacements, water, waste, and fertilizer usage. Individually, emissions from each category are relatively small. Collectively, Miscellaneous Operations are responsible for 1,680 mt CO2e, or 12% of MPRB total emissions footprint.