Sustainability

Sustainability iconSustainability is meeting the economic, social and environmental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

As a strategic priority, Burnsville is committed to innovation that supports environmental, human and financial vitality for our community and future generations.

Plans and Reports

Burnsville formalized sustainability planning in 2009 with the adoption of the first Sustainability Guide Plan. In fact, according to the GreenStep Cities program, Burnsville was the first municipality in Minnesota to have a sustainability plan.

In 2011, Burnsville set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from City operations 15% by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050, compared to a 2005 baseline. In 2021, greenhouse gas emissions were 34% less than 2005, already surpassing the 2025 goal.

In 2020, Burnsville adopted an updated Sustainability Plan, laying the foundation for our work in the years to come to reduce our environmental and carbon footprint. 

Take Action

Here are five low- to no-cost actions you can take to reduce your environmental impact and support the community. 

  1. Buy less stuff. The best way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Visit a Dakota County Fix-It Clinic to repair what you have before you toss and replace it. Find new shopping and donation locations on the Dakota County Reduce & Reuse Map.
  2. Reduce your energy use. According to the Regional Indicators Initiative, electricity and natural gas accounted for nearly 70% of Burnsville’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions. The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 68°F in the winter while you're awake and lowering it while you're asleep or away from home. In the summer, set it to 78°F and higher when you’re away. Use a programmable thermostat so you don’t have to worry about it.
  3. Buy locally products. Local shops return three times more money per dollar spent back into the local economy than chain competitors. Experience Burnsville has a list of local shops and restaurants so you can help support local, small businesses.
  4. Plant native flowers and grasses. Native plants need 50% less water than other species, while providing habitat for pollinators. Learn about how turn your lawn from turf grass to habitat at our Environmentally-Friendly Landscaping page.
  5. Reduce food waste. Food is 20% of what’s in Minnesota’s trash and the majority of that food could have been eaten or donated. Reducing food waste could save a family of four over $1,000 every year. Learn how you can prevent wasted food at Dakota County’s Prevent Food Waste website. Any food scraps or food waste can be brought Burnsville’s organics dropsite at Civic Center Park, 260 Civic Center Parkway. Sign up through Dakota County.

City Initiatives

Sustainability is incorporated into City projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, protect water sources, and enhance our natural spaces. 

Grow Burnsville

Grow Burnsville is a program helping to address food inequity in our community by increasing opportunities for locally grown produce with high nutritional value and to enhance access to open space, youth involvement and physical activity for our most vulnerable residents. Grow Burnsville has three components:

  • Food Forest: The Food Forest consists of fruit trees and bushes, herbs, and pollinator-friendly plants open to everyone to pick fresh food. It's designed to be a low maintenance permaculture ecosystem to be sure to serve community need for years to come. 
  • Market Garden: The Market Garden is a city-managed gardening space that provides education and internship opportunities for youth to gain work and life skills and become stewards of their community. At the end of the season, produce is donated to a local organization that addresses food insecurity.  
  • Community Gardening space: More community gardens to help nourish our community including the newest garden in Crosstown East.

GreenStep Cities

The City of Burnsville is recognized as the highest step, Step 5, in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, based on 29 best practice areas including recommendations for energy efficient buildings and lighting, land use, transportation, environmental management, and economic and community development.

As one of 146 participating cities and tribal nations, Burnsville has worked to implement best practices that save money, reduce energy use and conserve resources while encouraging civic innovation during the process.

SolSmart

Burnsville has received the SolSmart Bronze level designation. SolSmart recognizes cities, counties and regional organizations for making it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. If you are interested in going solar, we can help navigate residential or commercial permits and requirements through the City's planning department.

Efficient City Buildings

Burnsville prioritizes innovative updates to City buildings to advance our healthy and sustainable building efforts through the BWell Healthy Buildings program. Fire Station No. 1 is a great example with a rainwater capture system for irrigation incorporated into the design. Burnsville tracks energy use for city buildings in B3 Benchmarking to measure progress toward our energy reduction goals. 

Renewable Energy 

For City operations in Dakota Electric Association territory, Burnsville offsets the portion of grid energy that is not renewable with 100% wind energy through the Wellspring Renewable Energy program. In Xcel Energy territory, Burnsville has subscribed to community solar gardens.