Carbon

Whether or not we agree that human processes are impacting the bio-sphere by emitting carbon which has been nicely sequestered, we can see that carbon levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have been in any recent history. However we got here, it makes sense to do what we do while emitting as little carbon as practical.

Producing the program at St. Olaf College while emitting as little carbon as practical is an explicit goal of the Facilities Department.

Of course, the first step in this sort of effort is conservation. If we need fewer BTUs, our renewably generated power will go further. If we need fewer BTUs, we will be able to purchase fewer units of natural gas and electricity. If we are purchasing fewer units all the time, eventually we may be able to meet the needs renewably.

At our latitude, and mid-continent position, we need a great many BTUs worth of energy between October and May each year. Because of the mid-continent location at the head of the Mississippi Valley, there is a significant air conditioning load as well. All this means we need to burn materials to generate heat to make steam, and consume KWH to make chilled water. Even if renewable generation became viable in ten years, we will emit a lot of carbon in the interim, and we are working to avoid that.

Every opportunity for conservation is important, but we concentrate on the plant, distribution, and building systems, rather than small isolated issues. We need to get maximum advantage from the resources that are available. Some of this work is never seen, and it can be frustrating when seemingly obvious issues go untended.  The Facilities Department will work to keep you all better informed as this work proceeds.

St. Olaf Natural Lands are a significant resource for carbon sequestration. Many acres have been taken out of mowing or tillage, and placed into a restoration program that works to match conditions found at the time of white settlement. In addition, many acres that remain in ag rental, are committed to sustainable tillage practices, that also encourage carbon sequestration by the earth.