Carbon neutrality FTW!

The University of Minnesota Morris already has 100% of its electricity generated from renewable sources, but as this article explains, we’re also trying to kick the natural gas heating dependency. UMM gets a lot of attention here.

In Morris, the university, the city, and a local health campus have created a “Morris Model” that could result in a shared district energy system and other shared projects. The model sets goals of having 80% of energy in the county to come from local sources combined with a 30% reduction in energy consumption by 2030, said Bryan Herrmann, vice chancellor for finance and facilities.

Morris uses half the power from its wind projects to power the school and then offsets the rest of fossil fuel energy consumption through purchasing renewable energy credits generated by the turbines. It is a complex arrangement configured with assistance from donors and Otter Tail Power, Herrmann said.

The campus now must contend with finding money to retrofit buildings and to move them to low-temperature hot water heating. Goodnough, the sustainability director, wants whatever solution the campus chooses to benefit the local community, including farmers and perhaps other towns in the region. “There are some changes that we’re going to have to make to get us to the future where we’ll want to be,” he said.

Yay, UMM! We’re doing what everyone ought to be doing.


  1. says

    The one good thing about the college I started in, Oregon Tech, is that the entire campus was heated by geo-thermal. The downside is that you have to live on an active faultline. So the trade off is frequent earthquakes and a possible volcanic eruption in the next century or two, but hey, all the free hot water you could ever want.

  2. jimvj says

    Meanwhile about 36-40% of corn is used to make alcohol in the US.
    (Minnesota is #4 producer of corn)

  3. rrutis1 says

    @#2 johnstumbles

    I am curious, is wind not considered renewable? It says that the electric power is generated by wind and 1/2 of that is sold on the market to purchase energy credits for the heating fuel side. I will grant you that the heating side is more about accounting than physics. Until more heating is switched to geothermal heat pumps and air source heat pumps (and the buildings insulated and sealed better) there is not much to do for site generated heat in most of the US.

    That said there is a lot that can be done for heating efficiency before replacing entire systems. The company I work for builds energy performance contracts and it is fairly easy to get 20 to 30% heating saving by improving the existing system and how its controlled.

  4. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I am curious, is wind not considered renewable? It says that the electric power is generated by wind

    Yeah. That’s a lie. Without looking at it, I know it’s a lie. It’s an accounting trick. I know what it is without even looking. The wind turbine sell certificates to electricity customers saying “you bought my wind energy!”, And they do not sell more certificates than their total yearly energy (joule) production. This is the entire basis of this claim.

    In reality, the university still uses substantial amounts of fossil fuels (or nuclear). This accounting trick pretends that electricity is fungible, and that the grid is an infinite capacity battery, but that is not true. The electricity that the university pulls at an instant in time, for most of those moments, includes lots of fossil fuels. The amount of required batteries, transmission, overbuild, etc, is just not there to make such a claim.