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UMD's Carbon Footprint

+ What is the carbon footprint of the UMD campus?

In 2007, greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be around 57,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent (CO2e)*. UMD's carbon footprint is about equal to the annual emissions from 10,342 automobiles, emissions from 2,352,708 propane cylinders used for home barbecues, and emissions from burning 295 railcars of coal.

*CO2e accounts for the greenhouse gases produced by the direct burning of fossil fuels on campus, emissions from production of electricity that we use, along with commuting, refrigerants and landfilled waste. It accounts for emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide, and several fluorinated gases; these are converted all to CO2 equivalent using their greenhouse potential.

+ Does UMD have a commitment to lowering its carbon footprint?

Yes. UMD is a signatory of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). It is a pledge that UMD is working toward climate neutrality through steps such as gathering greenhouse gas emission statistics, developing an action plan (and taking preliminary actions during the development of the plan), and making the relevant data transparent by providing it to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for posting and dissemination.

+ Besides CO2, what are the other greenhouse gases covered by the ACUPCC?

NOx (nitrogen oxide), CH4 (methane), and a few fluorinated gasses.

+ What is UMD's carbon footprint relative to its size?

Our energy intensity is around 16 metric tons of CO2e per 1,000 square foot, a number that has been decreasing in recent years. This equates to about 5 metric tons of CO2e per full time equivalent (FTE) student.

+ How big of an impact does commuting have on our campus carbon footprint?

Commuting accounts for less than 3% of our annual carbon footprint. Factors that keep this portion low include the fact that many students close to campus and that UMD provides a free UPASS to students and faculty/staff. Students are commuting nearly half of their miles through walking, biking, and bussing.

+ What is the UPass program?

Using their UCard, UMD students and staff can ride DTA buses free. Since the program's inception, the DTA has had nearly four million riders using the UPASS program.

+ What measures does our campus plan include to reduce its carbon footprint?

The first priority for campus is energy efficiency. Energy retrofits can gain efficiency (do more with less). We also want to encourage energy conservation behaviors that further reduce UMD's carbon footprint. We will also consider fuel mix changes in the future, try to increase on-site renewables, continue to support mass transit for students, and look into purchases of clean and renewable electricity.

UMD's Energy Use

+ How much does UMD invest yearly in energy-saving retrofit projects?

For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, a total of $350,000 was budgeted to upgrade buildings for energy efficiency. Ideas from students, faculty, and staff are always welcome.

+ Why is saving energy important at UMD?

Conserving electricity and natural gas use saves the university money on utility bills. It also reduces carbon emissions; as a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, UMD has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

+ How much does UMD spend on energy in a year?

Millions of dollars are spent on electricity and natural gas for our heating plant. In 2009, utility bills totaled around five million dollars.

+ Is saving energy a recent idea at UMD?

No. UMD has been working on improving energy efficiency for many years by upgrading lighting, improving steam distribution systems, replacing windows and rooftops, and installing efficient heating, cooling, and air ventilation systems. However, there is a lot more work to do, and many buildings at UMD could be upgraded for ventilation and building controls to save energy.

+ What are the primary energy sources for electricity procured and fuel combusted on the UMD campus?

A majority of the electricity that the UMD uses is produced by coal and provided by Minnesota Power. Natural gas is used to heat the campus from the Lund Heating Plant.

+ What percentage of the electricity UMD uses comes from carbon-neutral sources?

About five percent of Minnesota Power's fuel mix comes from non-hydroelectric renewable resources* and less than one percent of the total energy used on campus is produced by the arrays on the Bagley Classroom and the Malosky Stadium.

*Renewable energy from Minnesota Power, including hydroelectricity, totals over ten percent. For more information, visit the EPA's web pages on Hydroelectricity and Non-Hydroelectric Renewable Energy.

+ What forms of clean or renewable energy are most likely to prove feasible on campus?

Solar photovoltaic arrays are present on campus now, but solar thermal, biomass, geothermal have all been (and will continue to be) considered. Smaller scale, building-mounted wind turbines might also be used as demonstration projects

+ Why don't we have a wind turbine on campus?

Local wind studies have shown that the north shore of Lake Superior can support some community wind projects. However, wind studies on the UMD campus shows that we do not have wind speeds to sustain a large turbine. Smaller building-mounted turbines may be more appropriate installations on campus in the future to provide opportunities for demonstration and research.

+ Why don't we have more solar panels on campus?

Solar panels are a great source of renewable energy, but they are also quite expensive. The panels at UMD (Malosky Stadium and Bagley Outdoor Classroom) are tied into the electricity grid and provide some clean power for our campus, but it is less than 1% of our electricity needs. Linking renewable energy demonstrations to academics and research is a great way to add value to UMD, but it would be economically unwise to invest in more solar panels before we upgraded buildings to be more energy efficient first. Energy efficiency and conservation are the biggest results for each dollar spent on energy.

+ Which buildings on the UMD campus consume the most energy?

Research buildings with laboratories: Swenson Science Building, Chemistry Building, School of Medicine, and Life Science Building - all have energy intensive equipment and a high frequency of air changes for safety.

+ Why do energy conservation messages mention closing fume hoods?

Fume hoods account for a lot of energy use on campus- the estimated operating costs vary from around $1,500 to $5,000 per fume hood each year. The fan on a fume hood uses some energy, but the larger impact is that fume hoods bring in fresh air from the outside, which has to be heated or cooled. Many fume hoods are "variable air volume" systems, which means that the speed of the air circulating into the hood remains constant, but the volume of air cycled depends on the size of the sash opening. The larger the fume hood opening, the larger the volume of air circulated through the hood, and the more energy it uses. Closing the sash saves!

+ Why is saving energy important at UMD?

Conserving electricity and natural gas use saves the university money on utility bills. It also reduces carbon emissions; as a signatory of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment , UMD is committed to the environmental impact of its operations.

+ How much can UMD cut its operational costs through energy conservation?

There are many opportunities for campus members to help conserve energy such as shutting off lights, keeping windows closed and locked during the heating season, taking the stairs if you are able, and shutting down computers, printers, and other appliances when leaving for the day. Even though each of these choices saves a small amount of energy, the savings can add up when multiplied by the thousands of people across campus.

For example, on average, a computer set-up draws about 150 Watts. Shutting down a single computer overnight (for 12 hours) saves 1.8 kwH per computer each day. This might not sound like a lot, but if each of the estimated 1,800 faculty, staff, and lab computers on campus changed from being left on overnight to being shut down, we would save nearly $50,000 each year. Adding in an estimate of 2,800 student computers in housing, and this could result in an annual savings of over $125,000 each year. This is the saving from only one energy conservation practice, UMD has the potential to save much, much more.

+ How many LEED certified buildings does UMD have?

Since 2007, UMD has had three new buildings and one renovated building qualify for LEED certification. UMD is currently in the process of building a new dormitory that is expected to be LEED certified as well.

Operating UMD

+ What types of sustainable operation practices are used at UMD?

UMD uses green-cleaning methods and chemicals , scheduling buildings to save energy when less people are on campus , low-energy lighting, low-flow faucets/fixtures, recycling (plastic, aluminum, glass, paper, cardboard, and hazardous/e-waste collection), composting food waste from the Dining Center, responsible stormwater management, and supporting mass transit through the UPASS program. Some of these choices can also save money. For example, UMD Facilities Management recently switched its methods for its terrazzo flooring maintenance, the small change is expected to save $40,000 over five years and eliminate the need of many hazardous chemicals.

+ How does Facilities Management determine when to turn on the air conditioning system?

Because the chiller loop is flooded with water, crews need to wait until nighttime temperatures are not expected to be below freezing. To conserve energy, we also evaluate the consistency of high temperatures before turning the system on, to avoid wasting electricity.

+ Why can't the air conditioning be turned on for a 60 degree day, and then turned back off?

Turning on the air conditioning for buildings at UMD is not as easy as flipping a switch. The air conditioning system requires a 2-week prep time to flood the coil loop that circles campus and to test the system.

+ Why don't we have separate air conditioners for each building?

A centralized campus chiller system helps to save money and energy. Keeping this system tuned helps us operate more efficiently than having separate air conditioning systems in individual buildings.

+ How has ITSS implemented computing energy management measures?

ITSS is making heavy use of server consolidation, including encouraging other units on campus to make use of our virtual servers. ITSS has not done a data center energy audit because our data center is so new (2 years old). It was constructed with the latest and greatest. They are in the process of converting to Active Directory from Novell; Active Directory has the functionality to do this power management, and plan to add this at some point.

+ What types of sustainable grounds practices are used at UMD?

Stormwater runoff is slowed, cooled, and filtered through rain gardens (4), pervious pavers (Swenson Civil Engineering and ), green roofs (Bagley, Civil), native and alternative plantings, filtration swales, and ponds. Grounds crews have strict fertilizer application guidelines, and work to reduce salt in winter snow removal. UMD fleet vehicles include hybrid vehicles and FM uses electric carts for grounds staff.

Waste and Recycling at UMD

+ What percentage of campus waste is diverted from landfill?

42% trending in 2010. This is high compared to many schools, including UMTC and UMM. But, the Mall of America boasts 67% of waste diverted from landfill. UMD Facilities Management is constantly looking for ways to reduce campus waste.

+ What is recycled at UMD?

UMD recycles paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, aluminum, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, ink jet cartridges, food waste, waste cooking oil and construction materials. Hazardous waste recycling quantities from 2008 include

Electronics - 67,509 lbs
Lead acid Batteries - 3,597 lbs
Oil - 563 gal
Fluorescent Lamps - 15,826 lamps
Lithium Batteries - 22 lbs
Alkaline Batteries - 473 lbs
X-ray film - 220 lbs

Campus Foods

+ Why doesn't UMD purchase more local foods?

Local foods are a great choice because they don't travel as many food miles and they help support local economies. Unfortunately, there are some real barriers to providing local foods at the Food Court and the Dining Center. Cost is certainly an issue; in the past UMD has tried to purchase locally grown green beans directly from the field, after processing, the beans simply weren't cost effective. Availability is also an issue; local farms don't have the volume that UMD requires, including the annual usage below:

Annual lettuce usage: 26,688 lbs
Annual baker potato usage: 2,100 lbs
Annual broccoli usage: 3,105 lbs
Annual apple usage: 52,402 apples
Annual egg usage: 29,880 eggs
Annual ground beef usage: 31,543 lbs

Most of this food is consumed over 32 weeks of the year, these varying levels of operation make it extremely difficult for local producers to accommodate.

UMD purchases foods from many local companies, however their products may not have been produced locally.

+ Is food waste recycled from the dining center?

Food waste is recycled from the Dining Center, via a partnership with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD). The food waste from the DC is turned into compost and sold through WLSSD's Garden Green program. Food waste from the Food Court is not separated for composting.

Recently, many catered events at UMD have provided composting bins, but contamination of the compost by trash (individual ketchup packet wrappers, for example) can be a problem. Ask for composting when you plan your next event.

+ Many of the products used in the Food Court are biodegradable, why aren't there any composting bins?

Using biodegradable products instead of plastic helps to reduce our dependence on petroleum and composting is a great way to reduce waste. But even a small amount of trash can contaminate an entire bag of compostable materials, food waste from the dining center has to be collected and sorted by dining center staff, ensuring that it is suitable for composting. However, without systems in place to separate non-compostable from compostable materials, composting in the food court is not possible.

How to Contribute

+ What can I do to make a difference on campus as a student?

Recycling, using your U-Pass, conserving energy and water on campus, carrying a reusable mug, water bottle or bag, turning off lights and electronics, close fume hood sashes in labs, purchase things carefully, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you can.

Many classes have sustainability themes and students can also get involved in the Sustainable Development Research Opportunity Project (SDROP). In addition, UMD has several clubs that promote sustainable practices including the Students for Sustainable Agriculture, the Clean Snowmobile Club, the UMD Cycling Club and the Student Sustainability Coalition.

+ What can I do to make a difference on campus as a staff or faculty member?

A few tips include being energy wise, shutting down your computer at the end of the day, unplugging appliances and electronics at the end of the week, conserving water, using your U-Pass, encouraging students to attend sustainability events, incorporating sustainability into your curriculum and/or teaching practices, reducing paper use, and recycling. By participating in the Sustainability Office's Green Your Office Program, a member of our office will be glad to stop by your office and give tips on how to save.

Frequently Asked Questions

We encourage anyone with questions about sustainability at UMD to contact us. Here are some of the questions asked most.

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Last modified on 02/14/13 07:33 AM
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