Please describe your institution's greenhouse gas mitigation strategies.
The University of Minnesota plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions using two types of strategies: primary and enabling.
The primary strategies will produce direct emissions reductions, whereas the enabling strategies will complement, accelerate, and enable the fulfillment of the primary strategies. Potential primary strategies are being explored in the following areas: energy efficiency and conservation, transportation, energy production and source, space utilization, and offsets. A few of the specific strategies being considered are laboratory efficiency improvements, shifting from fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal and fuel oil to lower or no-carbon fuels, increasing campus steam plant efficiency and continuing to meet aggressive building recommissioning goals.
Enabling strategy categories under consideration include wheeling, partnerships, research investments, utilizing the campus as a living laboratory, culture change/engagement, and policy.
The Twin Cities Sustainability Committee is the institutional structure designated to guide the development and implementation of the plan and is currently in the process of reviewing proposed approaches and will decide on specific strategies in Spring 2011. The criteria being used to choose strategies include greenhouse gas reduction potential, opportunities for shared funding, synergies, ease of implementation, visibility, return on investment, cost to implement and own, and reliability. After rating each project, the committee will choose the most promising strategies. Highest priority will be given to projects with the largest emissions reductions and monetary savings. The plan will then be updated and presented to the campus community for input and suggestions.
In accordance with ACUPCC Implementation Guidelines, after two years, the plan will be reviewed and revised to reflect the progress of the campus. New strategies and technologies to keep the campus on target for climate neutrality by 2050 will also be identified in periodic progress reports.
Please describe your institution's plans to make sustainability a part of the
curriculum for all students.
The University of Minnesota has many opportunities for students to engage in sustainability curriculum. Over 600 sustainability-focused or sustainability-related courses were offered during the past two years, educating more than 70,000 students on these issues. This includes students required to take an Environment Themed course throughout their undergraduate career, which focuses on the intersection of the natural environment and human society. Undergraduate majors and minors regarding sustainability are well established throughout the University. Students have the option of the off-campus semester-long program HECUA, which provides students with an internship and/or research experience throughout the Twin Cities. Graduate courses have also integrated sustainability in their curriculum in departments ranging from Geography to Public Affairs.
The Twin Cities campus not only offers extensive curricula, but also many co-curricular experiences for students. Complementary experiences include an introduction to sustainability for all students during Welcome Week, the campus’ weeklong orientation for new students. Housing and Residential Life also employs sustainability staff to help integrate sustainability into every resident’s living experience. In addition the Twin Cities campus hosts approximately 20 student groups engaged in environmental and sustainability topics on campus, in the community and globally.
The Twin Cities Sustainability Committee has identified additional ways to incorporate sustainability into every student’s education. Some potential strategies under consideration include expansion of sustainability courses, integration of sustainability into more disciplines and more events, assessment of sustainability literacy at admission and graduation, creation of a sustainability themed semester or year, and initiation of a sustainability graduation pledge. These strategies will be reviewed by the Twin Cities Committee in Spring 2011 to decide which ones may be implemented to further expand educational opportunities regarding sustainability and climate change.
Please describe your institution's plans to expand research efforts toward the
achievement of climate neutrality.
Research in sustainability has been an important part of the University in the past, and more recently encouraged by the University strategic planning process and through the Board of Regents Policy on Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Guiding Principles. The Twin Cities Sustainability Committee has compiled a list of potential research topics that will further the campus’ climate neutrality objectives and aid the broader community as well. These topics include waste to energy systems, electric vehicle infrastructure, the interconnection between health and wellness and sustainability, and decision making frameworks for furthering climate neutrality efforts on campus.
To advance this research agenda, incentives and support structures will need to be created and strengthened. To accomplish this, the committee has proposed a number of strategies including expanding centers that currently support sustainability research, such as the Institute on the Environment and the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment; creating new centers, departments, and units; identifying additional sources of funding and seed money; and growing community partnerships to test technologies beneficial to both the University and the partner organization.
Please describe your institution's plans to expand community outreach efforts toward the
achievement of climate neutrality.
The Twin Cities campus is among the largest public research universities in the country, providing education and research opportunities for over 66,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professionals. The campus is located in an urban setting with three distinct areas: East and West Banks in Minneapolis, and St. Paul. Because of its unique place within the Twin Cities, there is an opportunity to interact with surrounding areas. New technologies and research results will be shared with communities to help them become more sustainable.
The University acknowledges the Climate Action Plan affects neighboring communities and will work to take their input and concerns into consideration as the plan further develops. The process for input varies, but public forums are often useful.
There are successful community outreach structures and partnerships in place that can play a role for sharing new ideas and support. The University District Alliance partners with the Twin Cities Minneapolis campus neighborhoods and recently partnered with Center for Energy and Environment Community Energy Services to kick off a program of homeowner energy audits. Energy Innovation Corridor is a first-of-its-kind clean energy and transportation model in an established urban center in the Midwest. This partnership was formed to help advance efforts to invest in alternative and renewable energy, address global climate change and create jobs. Progress is also tracked and reported online.
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships Clean Energy Resource Teams sponsor clean energy and carbon reduction initiatives. Research and Outreach Centers throughout the state are integral to the University’s landgrant mission and conduct regionally specific research.
Through the combined strengths of all its campuses, the University of Minnesota has the opportunity to facilitate local jobs growth associated with a green economy and further efforts of the state toward energy independence.