Environmental Stewardship

January 1, 2016

A cemetery may not be the first institution that comes to mind when thinking about sustainability, but Mount Auburn is considered a model of environmental stewardship.  As part of is long-term vision for reducing its carbon footprint and conserving precious natural resources, the Cemetery has implemented strategies to reduce vehicle emissions and noise pollution, sought cleaner energy sources, established a sustainable grounds maintenance plan, and incorporated a staff-driven working group model for sustainability to create a healthier environment for our employees and visitors.

In-order to reduce emissions and provide greater power for our lawnmowers, half of the mower fleet has transitioned from gasoline to propane fuel and trials are now underway to assess re-chargeable chainsaws, trimmers, and leaf blowers.  Mount Auburn purchases wind power REC’s (Renewable Energy Certificates) to offset the electricity consumption in the buildings throughout our campus and our interior lighting has been audited to pave the way for more efficiencies. We are now also exploring solar pilot projects to provide lighting at two of our most iconic landmarks, the Egyptian Revival Gateway and Washington Tower.

Mount Auburn’s commitment to environmental stewardship is an institution-wide effort that has even effected the Cemetery’s provision of end-of-life services. In recent years the Cemetery has added options for natural burials to its list of offerings and an exciting project currently underway to revitalize Bigelow Chapel includes the construction of a new, fuel-efficient, and clean-burning Crematory.

Learn more about our current initiatives below.


Mount Auburn Cemetery includes 175 acres of rolling hills and dells, 3 ponds and one vernal pool, and a nationally-significant horticultural collection of 5,000 trees (640 different species and cultivars), over 6,000 shrub plantings (600 taxa), and 4,000 groundcover plantings (770 taxa). As America’s first large-scale designed landscape open to the public in North America, it also a landscape of extreme historic significance that reflects nearly 200 years of changing ideas about horticulture and landscape design.  Our current landscape management plan has been shaped by our desire to use the most ecologically sensitive practices while protecting one of America’s most important historic landscapes. From its efforts to become a “zero waste” landscape to its ongoing initiatives to replace high-maintenance plants with lower-maintenance and drought-resistant options, Mount Auburn has become a leader among public gardens for its innovative and environmentally-responsible practices.  Learn more >>>


All the living organisms of the planet make up its biodiversity.  When we talk about biodiversity at Mount Auburn, we are referring to all the plants and animals that exist within this urban wildlife refuge.  A Wildlife Action Plan, completed in 2015 in collaboration with wildlife and conservation experts, has guided the implementation of new gardens or the enhancement of existing ones to improve their value as wildlife habitat. In addition to increasing habitat value, our current efforts to diversify our horticultural collection are preparing us for the increasing threat of climate change.  Learn more >>>



Mount Auburn is an important resource for the study of horticultural and environmental issues.  Guided by the recommendations in our Wildlife Action Plan, scientists and conservationists are now studying the relationship between Mount Auburn’s horticultural collections and the wildlife that it supports.  Trained volunteers are now taking an active role to collect data for scientists studying the Cemetery’s biodiversity.  And, a new partnership with Lesley University will result in improved and expanded opportunities for school children to expand their understanding of the the natural world.



Take a virtual tour of Mount Auburn’s Stewardship Initiatives with our Interactive Map (click on Tour Information and select “Eternally Green” from the menu of tour options) or take a physical tour of the grounds by following the tour in our mobile app.



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