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U Minnesota Morris Pursues Carbon Neutrality by 2010

The University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) has partnered with McKinstry, a construction, engineering, energy services, and facilities management firm, to help it become the first carbon neutral university in the Midwest, a goal it hopes to achieve by 2010. McKinstry helped the university analyze its energy supply and demand, which included evaluating campus energy supply side options; identifying demand side reductions; creating a plan for an energy education and awareness system; and formulating a plan for managing energy production, storage, and consumption.

In 2004, UMM began acting on its sustainability target by constructing a 1.65 megawatt wind turbine. The 230-foot turbine provides UMM with 5.6 million kilowatt hours of power each year and is the first large-scale wind research turbine at a U.S. public university. In 2008, the University used funding received from the State of Minnesota to construct a biomass gasifier and steam boiler. A biomass gasifier converts biological matter into a fuel source.

McKinstry's completed energy analysis of UMM resulted in the development of the Carbon Management Tool, an interactive predictive tool that visually demonstrates impacts and interactions among conservation, energy storage, and supply side options.

"McKinstry used the tool to help us identify a self-funding project with a 14-year payback," said Lowell Rasmussen, vice chancellor for finance and facilities. "Not only has this resolved the campus' chilled water shortage, but it will reduce our carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2010. This will allow us to purchase carbon offsets for the remaining carbon footprint, and achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral."

McKinstry has also worked on energy projects at Washington State University in Pullman; the University of Idaho in Moscow; and the University of Washington in Seattle.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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