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Minnesota energy planning initiative helps colleges reach carbon-neutral goals

By District Energy posted 08-26-2020 08:49


Energy News Network


While colleges and universities have been leaders in adopting clean electricity, many still face a daunting hurdle in becoming fully carbon neutral: Aging heating systems that rely on fossil fuels.

The University of Minnesota at Morris, for example, already gets 100% of its electricity from wind, solar and biomass. But the buildings on campus are still heated by natural gas.

To solve that problem, Morris is joining two other Minnesota colleges taking advantage of a free net-zero energy planning initiative offered by a St. Paul company with district energy expertise.

Through Ever-Green Energy’s “Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality” program, Morris sustainability leaders learned energy efficiency projects combined with a low-temperature hot water system, geothermal, or capturing heat from a local ethanol plant could be among the solutions moving the campus to carbon neutrality.

“It gave us some unique insights by modeling all these different scenarios as well as provided us some deeper insights into how the costs are different for every model,” said Troy Goodnough, sustainability director.

Explicitly developed for colleges, Ever-Green Energy chose three Minnesota colleges — Morris, the University of St. Thomas, and the College of St. Benedict — for the first program and plans to announce the second cohort within a few weeks. 

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