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Sustainability and Stewardship

Occupying 250 acres nestled between Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet, and bordered by the Lyndale Rose Garden and Roberts Bird Sanctuary, Lakewood is a sanctuary in the heart of urban Minneapolis. It’s important to us at Lakewood that we remain good stewards of the resources entrusted to us. Thus, Lakewood is taking steps to conserve and protect our natural environment for the benefit of our community.  

Sustainability initiatives at Lakewood include: 

  • Making efforts to reduce our carbon footprint to support the health and wellness of those in Minneapolis and beyond.  
  • Designing conservation and preservation-oriented landscapes that serve an ecological benefit while still maintaining the beauty of our grounds.  
  • Supporting sustainability in our community by partnering with local organizations on projects and offerings that benefit all.  
  • Providing space for education and information on topics related to sustainability, nature, and the environment to engage critical conversations within the community. 

Reducing Carbon Footprint at Lakewood

Lakewood is making an effort to reduce our carbon footprint to support the health and wellness of our community and city.

Net Zero designed Welcome Center

The new Welcome Center at Lakewood is among the first net-zero-energy ready buildings in the city of Minneapolis, meaning it has been designed to produce as much energy as it uses. This is accomplished through a geothermal mechanical system, a high-performance building envelope, and the use of renewable energy created by a rooftop solar array. 

In addition to designing a building that generates solar energy and uses less resources for heating and cooling, several sustainability practices were employed during the project’s design and construction. These include: 

  • using sustainably sourced building materials 
  • minimizing and recycling construction waste 
  • using landscaping materials that require less watering 

Learn more about our new Welcome Center.

Lakewood as an arboretum

In February 2023, Lakewood became accredited as a Level 2 arboretum by a global organization called ArbNet. This arboretum designation recognizes that Lakewood’s 250-acre grounds are a dedicated green space where trees and shrubs are intentionally cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. It also means we have more than 100 different tree species at Lakewood, making us home to a biodiverse tree canopy of more than 4,000 trees, thousands of other shrubs and specialty plants, myriad wildlife and a thoughtfully planned ecosystem. Each year our vast tree canopy absorbs more than 192,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and supports stormwater mitigation throughout our grounds.

Learn more about Lakewood as an arboretum.

Photo by Bre McGee for Uncommon Collaborative.

Conservation and Preservation Across Our Grounds

Lakewood is exploring ways to highlight conservation and preservation minded landscapes that serve an ecological benefit while still maintaining the historic beauty of our grounds.

Designing conservation-oriented landscapes

Lakewood is committed to maintaining the formal integrity of our older and more established landscapes, while also supporting the conservation and planting of native plants and wildlife. 

Landscapes that support local wildlife are key to the cemetery’s sustainability initiatives. Plants native to this area evolved with native wildlife, making them more inviting to local insects, birds and other fauna. We strive for diversity in our plantings and offer a variety of native and perennial plants which require less water usage and less frequent mowing. 

Help us track the plants, insects, fungi and wildlife at Lakewood through our page on iNaturalist

Providing eco-friendly burial options

As the world becomes more and more environmentally conscious, choices in burial and memorialization have expanded to include more eco-friendly options that have less impact on the environment. You may have heard of terms such as “green” or natural burial, bio-urns, and natural organic reduction (NOR), among others. Lakewood is exploring how we can expand our offerings to include and/or accommodate more eco-friendly choices for the families we serve while still staying true to the design aesthetic that many families who have already chosen Lakewood value. Currently, for those who choose cremation, we offer ash scattering in our beautiful lake, Jo Pond, or directly into the earth (via a grave). For casket burials, we do not require embalming and allow natural caskets (made of biodegradable wood or bamboo) so long as a vault is still used. The vault can be inverted to allow the biodegradable casket to touch the earth directly.

If you have questions or wish to learn more about these options, please contact a Family Services Advisor.

Supporting Sustainability in our Community

We have partnered with local organizations to provide resources and continue to explore new ways to support environmental efforts across the city.

Spreading the love with Lakewood compost

Lakewood is honored to partner with local organizations like the Lyndale Rose Garden and Minneapolis parks to provide debris-free leaves as compost for their gardens and grounds.

Supporting clean water across Minneapolis

Starting in 2021, Lakewood began reducing the amount of nitrogen in our fertilizer by half. We are now using half of the recommended “industry standard” amount which not only keeps nearby water sources safe, but also reduces the need for frequent mowing. Lakewood has begun treating our roads with a more environmentally friendly brine instead of salt to prevent harmful runoff into nearby Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet.  

To slow down and filter the storm water into our onsite Jo Pond, we have planted a variety of sedges, natural grasses, and pollinator-friendly wildflowers around the edge of the pond. This is an ongoing project but serves to keep Jo Pond clean and at manageable levels for years to come.  

Protecting our feathered friends

In addition to offering regular birding events that center on education about our local birds, Lakewood has partnered with our neighbors at Roberts Bird Sanctuary on several projects, including the removal of invasive buckthorn which disrupts the growth of native plants and negatively impacts surrounding land, water sources, and wildlife, posing threats to the birds and wildlife that call Lakewood home. 

Providing Educational Resources and Learning Opportunities 

As a vibrant green space in the heart of Minneapolis, Lakewood is a great place to learn more about nature and sustainability. We offer events throughout the year with topics ranging from birding and nature, to sustainability related discussions and conversations. Our events are open to all. We hope you can join us at an upcoming event.  


For questions about sustainability at Lakewood, contact us at

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