MTCDE is Metric Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalents, the international unit of carbon emissions.
BTU is British Thermal Unit
DD is degree days
GSF is gross square foot
We are interested in the number of units that are required to operate the campus per square foot, and per student, AND, in reducing those numbers to the lowest point practical.
Square footage is particularly interesting because St. Olaf has had a relatively small amount of space per student for a highly selective residential liberal arts college. Today it is about 660 GSF counting everything, and 640 are served by the heating plant. Many great schools like us have more than 1,000 sf per student. This is important because we are working to reduce BTUs and carbon in absolute terms, even as we have grown by 47% since 1988, and 15% since 2001. When compared to FY 2001, we are operating 250,000 additional square feet of space.
In FY 2014 we had an extremely high number of degree days, 17% more than the average for the previous twelve years. Even with that, all of these numbers are better than the twelve year average, and the BTU/GSF/DD number is excellent, really, our best ever.
Construction utilities are another factor. St. Olaf supplies campus power and steam to construction projects as a way of reducing the carbon and health impacts of construction from electrical generators and propane heaters. This can mean that numbers per square foot look a little strange sometimes, because we do not count any new square feet until they are occupied. Our major renovations open the buildings completely during some phases, and that can exacerbate consumption as well.
2010, 2011, and 2013 are close to what we think of as our new normal. 2012 had a very small number of degree days and while we like what that can do for averages…
During those years, the MTCDE per GSF averages 9.77, and the MTCDE per Student average is 6.06. We have a long way to go on these measures, but they are quite good for our area of the country, and with 3,000 active young people living here.