Carbon

The St. Olaf College Facilities Department is committed to emitting as little carbon as practical.

Of course, the first step in this 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 all of our campus energy needs renewably.

St. Olaf College currently leases 40 acres of college-owned land to solar developers and subscribes to 40 percent of the solar project’s output, the maximum allowable by state law. The college’s solar subscriptions, combined with the energy generated by its wind turbine, enable St. Olaf to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electrical power.

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. We are constantly working to curb the college’s carbon emissions and enhance energy conservation.

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.

The 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.

Learn more about campus sustainability efforts here.