Suburban Communities Going Green

Sean Gosiewski
Alliance for Sustainability

Highlighting the Minnesota Cities of Burnsville, Edina, and Oakdale

City of Burnsville’s Sustainability Guide Plan

During 2008, city staff worked with a consultant team to develop a 105-page Sustainability Guide Plan based on best practices and the Natural Step framework. The guide plan delineates 37 strategies, numerous implementation activities, possible partners and funding sources, and performance indicators for the city organization and the community that will make Burnsville more sustainable in future years. The consultant team included Emmons Olivier Resources and the Alliance for Sustainability.

Burnsville’s community wide sustainability programs include :

  • Public community gardens.
  • Installing rain gardens in yards when rebuilding cul-de-sacs.
  • Outreach to businesses to increase recycling.

City of Edina’s Energy and Environment Commission

The Energy and Environment Commission in Edina was established in April 2007 to help the city of Edina stay on the forefront of issues of sustainability.

Duties of the commission include :

  • Recommending best practices for energy conservation for city facilities, residents, and businesses, as well as policies to increase recycling and reduce solid waste, and strategies to improve air and water quality.
  • Educating the public about energy issues, reduction, conservation, reuse, recycling, and environmental protection.

Commission members recently met with city staff to learn about sustainability and the Natural Step program, organized a community forum with Will Steger and Bill McKibben on global warming, and empowered volunteers in block clubs, schools, and congregations to plant trees and help neighbors save energy for the international day of climate action (

City of Oakdale’s Generation Green Program

Generation Green is Oakdale’s commitment to reducing energy consumption for the environmental and financial benefits to the community.

The program includes:

  • Incentives for new commercial buildings to be built to become more energy efficient.
  • Outreach efforts to help residents save money and energy with the Center for Energy and Environment. Their pilot project helped block leaders to reach their neighbors with no-cost measures and behavior changes.
  • Investment to make city facilities more energy efficient including buildings, vehicle fleet, signal lights, water, sewage, and waste.

Volunteers on the Oakdale Environmental Management Commission are helping the city to increase recycling, conserve energy, protect wetlands, expand rain gardens, and host public education events.

Act Locally

Sustainability Guide Plan
Sue Bast, Burnsville’s Sustainability Coordinator

Green Suburban Communities

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