Reporting System

Progress Report for University of Minnesota-Morris

Submitted on Jan. 15, 2012; Last updated on Jan. 18, 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

We have made significant progress towards implementing our Climate Action Plan since 2009. We have made progress in reducing our carbon footprint, developing new curricular, co-curricular and research opportunities for students, and working in partnership with other community groups to advance sustainability goals.

Morris has achieved its goal of developing an integrated, renewable-energy platform which provides campus thermal and electrical needs. And we have plans to continue building our renewable energy infrastructure, research and demonstration projects, and conservation work beyond 2011. At Morris, you can visit an on-campus combined-heat-and-power biomass gasification plant that is providing heat, cooling and electricity from locally obtained biomass. As you drive to the Morris campus, you will see two 1.65 MW University of Minnesota wind turbines along the Pomme de Terre ridge providing more electricity to campus than it consumes during the year. You can visit the campus-community 32-panel flat-plate solar thermal array providing heat to our recreational pool or the demonstration-sized 3 kW solar PV array outside of Science building. In addition to building renewable energy systems, we also completed a large campus-wide energy conservation project and remodeled our Welcome Center (on the Register of Historic Places) to green building standards.

We have met our goal of producing more energy than we consume. We have also helped advance our regional goal of becoming a renewable energy destination and center of innovation. You can see biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, methane digestion, and conservation work within a mile or two of Morris, and we celebrate the work of community partners who have also advanced this goal. The wind turbines are expected to provide over 70% of the campus’s electricity usage annually in 2012, which will reduce our campus carbon footprint significantly. The biomass plant is expected to increase its usage of biomass from 40% in 2012 to 70% in 2015. We originally had a goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 2010. This goal assumed that we would be able to receive credit for erecting a turbine and producing electrons. In reality, during the process of negotiating a power purchase agreement many of the “green” electrons provided to the grid are owned by the power company and we cannot claim their environmental attributes. If we were allowed to claim credit for the all of the electrons we generate, we would be totally carbon neutral in electricity. For now, we produce more electrons than we consume . These distinctions will be important in our ongoing conversation about achieving carbon neutrality, what we can claim, and the role campuses will be able to play in shaping that outcome. In 2011, Morris led the development and installation of the second U of M 1.65MW wind turbine that is now spinning in prairie winds. Taken together, the University of Minnesota wind turbines produce more than 10M kWhrs each year.

We have made progress developing new curricular, co-curricular and research opportunities for students. We have witnessed our environmental studies program blossom into a successful discipline. New courses have been developed and new disciplines are being acknowledged for their efforts towards building a “renewable, sustainable education.” For example, our Chemistry discipline received the 2012 American Chemical Society Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education. We have had new sustainability-inspired artistic works flourish, like our annual Fashion Trashion show and Shakespearean theater production, As You Like It, where new garments were made with old and re-purposed materials. Our students have used the campus as a laboratory of learning, creating coalitions and new organizations to advance their sustainability goals. Morris Campus Student Association led a the charge to launch a very successful ride-sharing program. This laboratory has included the formation of new groups like:

Morris campus Organic Recycling and Composting Initiative, which has advanced our plans to create a composting system on campus;

Morris Foodlums, a student group that is working to grow our healthy and sustainable food leadership, including activities that support our student organic garden, Native American garden, and local, sustainable and healthy food purchasing goals;

Morris Off-Campus Student Union, which worked with community partners to do energy-saving workshops for off-campus student renters;

And students have been involved in a range of research, creative and artistic efforts to advance sustainability, including work in: renewable energy policy, survey work in the community around sustainability issues, developing biomass gasification technology, studying climate change and tree populations, advancing chemistry for solar PV applications and wind-to-hydrogen techniques, antibacterial resistance, food policy and systems, and more.

We have an active program of outreach and engagement with communities in west central Minnesota around sustainability. The Center for Small Towns (CST) at Morris partnered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to create a new AmeriCorps program in Minnesota, called the Minnesota GreenCorps program. For the past three year, Morris undergraduate GreenCorps members have improved recycling programs at local schools, developed a bike share program on campus, assisted regional counties in energy benchmarking efforts, developed a CFL recycling program on Main Street and more. CST also engages scores of students each year in community-engaged work. Some of these projects have included working Stevens Forward! on their ongoing community carbon neutrality goals, improving regional farmers’ markets, examining area lakes for possible environmental problems, supporting community clean water and energy groups, and more. The Office of Community Engagement has engaged in sustainability work by connecting students with sustainability-oriented service as part of their classroom work, but also though work like its “Community Meals” program that serves a meal off campus to students, elderly, and other local citizens, with local and healthy ingredients. The Morris campus is also the lead organizer of the Morris Healthy Eating Initiative, a project supported by many community partners to support local, sustainable and healthy eating. We are also partnered with other groups, inside and outside the U of M system, including: West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, West Central Research and Outreach Center, West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams, USDA North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab, Pride of the Prairie and more. Morris also played a lead role in organizing and hosting the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability ( conference on campus in 2011, which brought together regional participant across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and more. This was the largest UMACS conference so far and provided participants an opportunity share sustainability stories, network, and learn more about the Morris model of developing a community-scale integrated-renewable energy platform.

The ACUPCC is an important part of our work. We believe in setting goals and sharing information about our progress, while we learn from the progress our friends and peers. We believe we are developing a model for how a campus can use its local resources to meet its energy needs and build upon the legs of the sustainability stool: by improving the environment, injecting capital back into our local community, and building the social capital to create the change we want to see. We benefit from the shared data collected and distributed by the President’s Climate commitment and the campus visions these data reflect. And we also benefit from the collective power of campuses across the country uniting in their effort to impact climate change.

Some links that help illustrate our efforts:

About Seth and student outreach:
About UMACS conference:
About community meal:
About new wind turbine:
About Welcome Center work:
About SUN-E project:

GHG Emissions & Reduction Targets

Climate Neutrality Target Date: 2020
Interim Milestone Emission-Reduction Target Target Date Baseline*
70% reduction in Total Scope 2 Emissions by 2017 relative to baseline emissions in 2007
40% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2017 relative to baseline emissions in 2007
70% reduction in Total Scopes 1, 2, 3 Emissions by 2018 relative to baseline emissions in 2007
[click to view Climate Action Plan - Morris Climate Action Plan September 2009]

GHGs summary

GHGs for University of Minnesota-Morris
Reporting Year Gross Emissions Net Emissions Full Time Enrollments Total Bldg. Sq. Ft. [action]
2007 15748.0 15639.0 1681.0 960028.0 [ view ]
2009 15586.0 15586.0 1686.0 960028.0 [ view ]
2011 11606.69 11606.69 1932.0 961804.0 [ view ]
2012 10432.0 10432.0 1876.0 965852.0 [ 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?

    Climate neutrality and sustainability are parts of our curriculum/co-curriculum in a variety of ways.
    Our renewable energy assets at Morris are being incorporated into courses and research at Morris. For example, students are taking the Morris “green energy tour” during their courses, which may include both policy and and science courses. Faculty at Morris are working on renewable energy technology and policy with students. For example, this has included work on solar cells and the economics of corporate- vs. public-owned wind investments, respectively. We have active ongoing local food efforts to make connections between energy and food. And, we offer numerous internship opportunities though the Center for Small Towns at Morris for students to engage in sustainability-related collaborative work with communities. Lastly, students actively engage our campus and community as a laboratory of sustainability learning, implementing projects that support our shared sustainability goals.

  • Education methods in use

    • Other - We have charged ourselves with providing a "renewable, sustainable education" for our students. One of our Morris campus learning outcomes is improved environmental stewardship by our students as citizen leaders.

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

    Environmental studies and environmental science.

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

    We do not offer graduate degrees at Morris. We are a residential public liberal arts college.


  • Does your institution have a central sustainability website that consolidates information about the institution's sustainability efforts?


  • Does your institution include sustainability prominently in new student orientation?

    Green Ambassadors and sustainability staff provide Green Tours of the many sustainability-related assets on campus at orientation and other events.


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

    The Morris campus is building a community-scale, integrated-renewable-energy platform. At Morris, you can experience two 1.65MW wind turbines, a solar PV array, and an on-campus biomass gasification plant, and solar themal arrays. For example, the biomass plant is a research and demonstration platform, and we are actively working with researchers at several institutions to understand the operational characteristics of this new gasification plant, and also the harvesting, storage and other considerations involved with biomass energy production. And, the wind turbines have provided opportunities to explore renewable energy policies connected to wind development. These are just some of the ways we are furthering this research.

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

    We have the Morris Academic Partnership (MAP) and Morris Administrative Fellowship (MSAF) programs which help fund faculty sustainability research,creative work, and other work in sustainability. The MAP program provides funds for students to work directly with faculty members on research.

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

    Within the University of Minnesota system, to which our institution is connected, there are several programs which provide opportunities for faculty to engage in sustainability research. These would include two different programs:Institute on the Environment and IREE (Initiative for Renewable Energy and Environment). Morris faculty and students have accessed resources from these programs to pursue sustainability-related research.

Community Engagement

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

    Morris students, faculty, staff and administrators are all actively engaged at various levels of community outreach around climate neutrality and energy self-reliance. We actively engage with American Indian communities in our region exploring energy options. The Morris campus GreenCorps program and other Cetner for Small Towns-supported students engage with local community groups, like Stevens Forward!, to help pursue their goals of carbon neutrality in Stevens County by 2015. We also provide numerous tour and community-engagement events for the public to learn more about the energy transformation work taking place at Morris.

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

    Morris campus participates in several ways. Center for Small Towns at Morris engages students in sustainability projects with communities. The Office of Community Engagement at Morris connects student in-class learning with sustainability opportunities in the community. We also partner with U of M- West Central Research and Outreach Center, the USDA Soil Laboratory, the West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, the West Central Clean Energy Resource Teams, and more. Our work with these partners helps to advance sustainability initiatives in our region of Minnesota.

  • 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?

    Chancellor Johnson has advocated for several pieces of sustainability-related legislation. She also appeared before a Senate subcommittee to discuss the importance of sustainability funding in higher education and the initiatives being advanced at institutions like Morris.

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:


Renewable Energy

  • Annual output (in kWhs) for each renewable energy system utilized by University of Minnesota-Morris

    • Solar output: 4219 kWh

    • Wind output: 5000000 kWh

    • Biomass output: 1496410 kWh

    • Fuel Cell output: 0 kWh

    • Geothermal output: 0 kWh

  • Other GHG mitigation efforts:
    The two U of M turbines generate an additional 5M kWhrs of green electricity to which the local power company claims the RECs by state law. U of M catalyzed these projects.
    40% of our campus fleet is hybrid vehicles.
    We are converting to gas-electric vehicles.
    We have instituted several ride-share opportunities, including ZimRide on-campus.
    We have an active student-led on-campus recycling program.
    We have a solar thermal system, which produced 280M Btu/year.

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:


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


  • Additional information on secured outside funding:

    USDA-DOE grant
finance methods...
  • Financing Methods utilized for Mitigation or Renewable Energy Projects:
    • Other
        Two main methods: 1) U of M internal funding, 2) energy service contract, 3) securing grants

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 University of Minnesota-Morris's climate & sustainability efforts please click here