University of Minnesota Morris Campus

University of Minnesota Morris

Carbon Neutrality at University of Minnesota Morris

The University of Minnesota Morris (UMN Morris) was selected to participate in the first cohort of Ever-Green’s Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality. This program offers pro bono energy planning services to higher education institutions to outline campus-specific solutions that are financially and technically viable, with an implementable path to carbon neutrality.

The Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality findings for UMN Morris were presented in this report, which includes multiple approaches for UMN Morris to achieve campus carbon neutrality at its campus.

Highlights include:

  • Six renewable thermal energy technology scenarios were compared to a business-as-usual scenario: biofuel, biomass, geothermal coupled with ground-source heat pumps, ethanol plant waste heat recovery, solar PV with thermal storage, wind with thermal storage.
  • UMN Morris will continue to pursue opportunities to decarbonize its electric profile, primarily through a collaboration with established partner Otter Tail Power.
  • Converting the current steam distribution system to hot water will reduce the fuel and energy demands to supply the system, enable access to more carbon-free thermal energy sources, and improve overall campus efficiency.
  • The campus is succeeding in the area of energy efficiency, but there are multiple opportunities for near-term investment to continue to improve efficiency overall.
  • With the proximity of UMN Morris to many community buildings including a medical center and elementary, middle and high schools, a community-integrated energy system should be considered.
  • Implementing Ever-Green’s recommended district energy system is estimated to reduce GHG emissions at UMN Morris by 10,000 tons of CO2 per year (a 98% reduction for the heating and cooling systems over the 2018 baseline).
  • Multiple financial strategies were recommended to help fund this transition, including the pursuit of renewable energy credits, utilization of rebates and grants, and a lower-cost piping system.
  • A financial analysis of the up-front and life cycle costs for the renewable energy scenarios presented demonstrated biomass, geoexchange, and industrial heat recovery were the most cost-conservative options.

Ever-Green’s Role

Ever-Green worked with UMN Morris staff to gather data on the existing buildings’ generation assets, building mechanical systems, square footage, and occupancy.

Ever-Green used this system data to develop an energy consumption profile for UMN Morris. Once loads were established, energy supply and distribution options were evaluated, and capital investments and system life cycle costs were estimated in a 30-year life cycle cost analysis model. The model compares the costs and carbon profiles for UMN Morris to heat, cool, and power the UMN Morris campus under the business as usual scenario against several low-carbon energy solutions over that time period.

About the Client:

The University of Minnesota Morris is a residential liberal arts college in Morris, Minnesota that is one of institutions in the University of Minnesota institution. The school is a public land-grant institution that has been in existence since 1960 and currently has a student body of 1,600. It was one of the first public colleges to generate on-site renewable power from wind and corn cobs (through biomass gasification). UMN Morris approaches sustainability through academics, research, and on-campus initiatives. They were recently ranked as the #1 campus in the U.S. for producing the most renewable electricity per student on campus.