Reporting System

Progress Report for Luther College

Submitted on May 15, 2012; Last updated on May 23, 2012

The Progress Report is intended to help signatories assess and track progress toward the goals outlined
in their Climate Action Plans and to share that progress with their stakeholders and the general public.

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General Statement of Progress

Luther College has made great strides in its pursuit of becoming a more sustainable institution since implementing its Climate Action Plan. Paving the way to success is the hard work and thoughtful planning of many students, faculty, and staff. What follows is a summary of the progress made in greenhouse gas mitigation, campus operations, and outreach. Efforts in education are described in a previous section of this update. More information about Luther’s progress can be found at

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

Since 2004, Luther has made steady progress toward reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent. Currently at a 22 percent reduction, the erection of a 1.6 megawatt wind turbine last fall will increase reduction to an expected 40 percent by the end of this calendar year. The first utility-grade turbine at a four-year college in Iowa, it’s expected to generate a third of the school’s annual electricity.

Luther is partnering with a local LLC to begin drawing all the electricity required to power its 100-student Baker Village residential complex from a 1,250-panel solar photovoltaic array this summer. Luther plans on leasing the system for seven years with the intention of purchasing the system afterwards.

In 2011, a donor-funded 4 kilowatt solar system was installed at Luther’s Sustainability House and is designed to produce all of the electricity this student residence consumes annually. Financing for a 20 kilowatt solar project is secured for another campus residential complex and will be installed this summer.

In 2010 and 2011, Luther invested $500,000 in energy efficiency by securing matching funds from the Iowa Office of Energy Independence Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant program.

Campus Operations

Luther College’s Campus Sustainability Office has continued to grow in both the amount staff and work accomplished since it was established in 2007. Currently, the office has three full-time staff members (Energy and Waste Steward, Sustainability Coordinator, and Sustainable Foods Educator) and dozens of student workers implementing new projects, providing sustainability-related services, educating the campus population, tracking metrics, and marketing our efforts.

Material and water resources are being saved through infrastructure improvements and metering. Since 2004, material brought to the landfill has decreased by 25 percent and water consumption has decreased by 19 percent.

Luther offers a variety of sustainable transportation programs encouraging students not to bring a car to campus. The number of student vehicles brought to campus has gone down 20 percent since 2004-2005.

Regionally, the Break Shuttle program serves five metropolitan areas and the number of passengers has increased six-fold since inception. A student/faculty-produced ride-share website matches ridesharing demand and supply. Locally, Luther offers a shuttle that regularly serves retail destinations and a car-share program. To promote biking, Luther offers a bike-share program, winter bike storage, and a campus bike workshop.

Extensive work had been done to support the sustainable foods movement. This year, a sustainable foods educator was hired to work with Luther College and the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. Food purchases at Luther from local sources has increased to 20 percent of the total food budget (toward a goal of 35 percent). Two edible landscaping plots have been established, campus gardens production is increasing, and support for area school gardens and food service directors is being provided.


Fundraising is currently taking place to establish and endow a Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities. Goals of the center include being a catalyst for change, acting as a resource for other entities in the region, and providing practical learning experiences for students. The five million dollar endowment will provide sustainability internships for 20 students and programming funds in wellness and sustainable foods, environmental education outreach, community energy systems, and land stewardship. This summer there are ten student internships working in land stewardship, environmental education, food and wellness, energy, and sustainability projects in churches, city government and local businesses.

In partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, Luther College helps support two FoodCorps and three AmeriCorps members working in the region promoting access to healthy local foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity. FoodCorps members work with more than 20 schools in six rural counties to help develop and maintain school gardens and educate students, teachers and service staff about the benefits of consuming real food.

GHG Emissions & Reduction Targets

Climate Neutrality Target Date: 2030
Interim Milestone Emission-Reduction Target Target Date Baseline*
50% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2015 relative to baseline emissions in 2004
70% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2020 relative to baseline emissions in 2004
[click to view Climate Action Plan - Transformed by the Journey: A Climate Action Plan for Luther College]

GHGs summary

GHGs for Luther College
Reporting Year Gross Emissions Net Emissions Full Time Enrollments Total Bldg. Sq. Ft. [action]
2003 26520.53 26520.53 2531.0 1380226.0 [ view ]
2004 27669.7 27669.7 2526.0 1384290.0 [ view ]
2005 25387.6 25387.6 2504.0 1388120.0 [ view ]
2006 24354.1 24354.1 2504.0 1388120.0 [ view ]
2007 22986.0 22986.0 2466.0 1404570.0 [ view ]
2008 22148.6 22148.6 2455.0 1404570.0 [ view ]
2009 21380.7 20653.7 2423.0 1474227.0 [ view ]
2010 21989.7 21072.4 2470.0 1474227.0 [ view ]
2011 21692.5 20173.3 2422.0 1474227.0 [ view ]
2012 20992.0 17915.0 2434.0 1474227.0 [ view ]
2013 20777.8 16621.5 2421.0 1474277.0 [ view ]
2014 20590.2 16350.7 2339.0 1474277.0 [ view ]
2015 19354.1 15174.1 2339.0 1474277.0 [ view ]
  • Change in GHG gross emissions


  • Change in GHG emissions per 1000 sq.ft. building space


  • Change in GHG emissions per full time enrollment (FTE)


Education, Research, & Community Engagement


  • How is your institution making climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students?

    Five areas of work to infuse sustainability throughout the curriculum.

    Faculty Development: We have used established structures for faculty development to offer workshops and other experiences including the following:
    1. Summer workshops: The Oneota Project is a 2 day summer workshop modeled on the successful programs at Emory and Northern Arizona. Participants learn about sustainability and focus on revising one course to incorporate sustainability. The primary emphasis is “place” and how we can use place to teach about sustainability. This two-year program will award up to eight $1,200 stipends each year for Luther faculty members to develop new courses or significantly revise existing courses that focus on sustainability.
    2. Thematic workshops and reading groups: The past two years we have done summer reading groups focused on specific aspects of sustainability, for example food. These are open to both faculty and staff and have had excellent participation. This summer we also have a faculty reading group that is studying systems thinking and ways to teach students about systems.
    3. New Faculty orientation: Prior to the official orientation we do a sustainability orientation with new faculty that is fun and engaging while also providing an introduction to place and sustainability. This includes a campus sustainability scavenger hunt and canoe trip on the Upper Iowa River. We see this as a good opportunity to reach faculty as they enter the College.

    Departmental Outreach: We have developed a short set of Frequently Asked Questions about Education for Sustainability and are using this as the basis for outreach to all departments on campus. This outreach asks each department to discuss the following questions: How does sustainability relate to your courses and your major? What courses within your program currently address sustainability? What opportunities exist to do more with sustainability within your discipline?

    Regional Collaborations: Luther has worked with other schools in the Upper Midwest to share resources and collaborate on faculty development. We see regional collaborations (especially with similar types of schools) as an important component of this work especially as we all work to reduce our emissions.
    1. Associated Colleges of the Midwest: Luther spearheaded a year-long collaborative project funded by ACM. The planning group for the project also included Carleton, Macalester, and St. Olaf. This project gathered 40 faculty from 10 schools for a 3 day workshop in June 2010 to learn about sustainability and develop learning clusters by discipline. The project culminated with a conference in April 2011 open to faculty from any institution.
    2. Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS) and AASHE. Luther hosted a regional campus sustainability conference in 2008 and helped to lead the first regional “train the trainer” sustainability faculty workshop for AASHE in March 2011.

    Co-curricular experiences and campus operations: Through the campus sustainability office, Luther has worked to do sustainability education outside the classroom through residence life, facilities management, dining services, etc. Our goal is to make the entire campus a learning laboratory for sustainability and to have all staff as well as faculty see themselves as sustainability educators. This year we launched a sustainability reps program. This is a peer-to-peer engagement program in the residential with a goal to increase sustainability literacy and action. A sustainability grant fund has also been established that allows any student to apply for funds to implement a sustainability-related project.

    Environmental Studies program: In addition to infusing sustainability throughout the curriculum, we have strengthened the Environmental Studies program as one place where students receive in depth education in sustainability.

  • Education methods in use

    • Included sustainability learning outcomes into institutional General Education Requirements.
    • Offered professional development to all faculty in sustainability education.

  • Does your institution offer an undergraduate degree program(s) related to climate change/sustainability?

    see STARs report for Luther College

  • Does your institution offer a graduate degree program in climate change/sustainability?

    see STARs report for Luther College



  • If applicable, how is your institution expanding research efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality research?


  • Does your institution have a program to encourage student climate and or sustainability research?

    see STARs report for Luther College

  • Does your institution have a program to encourage faculty climate and or sustainability research?

    see STARs report for Luther College

Community Engagement

  • How is your institution expanding community outreach efforts toward the achievement of climate neutrality?

    We fund summer student internships to work in the community on projects with the City of Decorah, Decorah's Green Business Council, Winneshiek Energy District, area churches, and local food producers. Luther hosts an annual film festival dedicated to showing films related to sustainability. A highly-visible wind turbine has been erected which helps demonstrate the feasibility of wind power. Luther will be leasing equipment from the soon-to-be largest solar field (the largest in Iowa) from a local business.

  • Does your institution participate in community climate change and or sustainability partnerships?

    see STARs report for Luther College

  • Has your institution advocated for federal, state, and/or local public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance your goal of climate neutrality?

    see STARs report for Luther College

Many of the above questions correspond to AASHE's Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS) credits. For signatories that are STARS participants you may find more detail on their efforts in the areas of education, research, and community engagement by accessing their STARS report.

Energy & Finances

Energy Efficiency Projects

  • Number of Energy Efficiency Retrofit Projects planned, but not yet implemented:


  • Number of Energy Efficiency Retrofit Projects completed since signing the ACUPCC:


  • Number of buildings that have received a green building certification since signing the ACUPCC:


  • Number of green buildings planned or scheduled for completion in the next 2 years:


  • For all buildings, the green building certification/rating used is:


Renewable Energy

  • Annual output (in kWhs) for each renewable energy system utilized by Luther College

    • Solar output: 4 kWh

    • Wind output: 1650 kWh

    • Annual renewable energy purchased: 900 kWh

Financial Data

  • Has your Climate Action Plan and/or related sustainability efforts saved your institution money so far, e.g. by reducing operational expenses?


  • Amount spent on CAP projects:


  • Estimated amount saved to date from implementing your CAP projects:


  • Estimated total savings expected from implementing entire Climate Action Plan


  • Additional information or context to support expected savings:

    wind turbine, solar field, addition retrocommisioning
  • Financial resources (dollar amount) secured from outside sources to support mitigation efforts related to the Climate Action Plan (grants, gifts, etc...) :


finance methods...
  • Financing Methods utilized for Mitigation or Renewable Energy Projects:
    • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
    • Renegotiating Purchased Utilities Agreements
    • Revolving Loan Funds
    • Tax Exempt Lease Purchase Agreements (TELP)

Non-public data

This data is available to signatories with reporting system access.
"" fields in which no data was submitted have been omitted from this report

For more information about Luther College's climate & sustainability efforts please click here