The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 24, 2013

MSU looks at carbon footprint

Report: MSU's emissions more than St. Cloud, Bemidji, Winona

MANKATO — Greenhouse gas emissions from building operations at Minnesota State University are by far the largest makeup of the institution's carbon footprint, which is what its working to reduce.

That's also the area the university will be looking at most as it develops a plan to lessen its impact on the environment.

MSU President Richard Davenport and various university representatives met Tuesday to discuss a report and presentation by Katie Anthony, a sustainability specialist for Sebesta Blomberg in St. Paul, hired to conduct an analysis of the university's carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.

“We're emitting way too much carbon it looks like,” Davenport said.

According to the report of the 2012-13 fiscal year — which establishes a baseline for future comparison — building operations made up 87 percent of emissions. Of that, Xcel Energy electricity made up 57.4 percent, and combustion of natural gas for heat and hot water made up 23.9 percent.

Emissions from commuters to campus made up 11.9 percent. And the remaining emissions were from fleet, air travel, solid waste management, wastewater processing, and transmission and distribution line losses.

The report also compared MSU to Bemidji State, St. Cloud State and Winona State by emissions per student and emissions per 1,000 square feet. Without factoring in commuting and air travel (which are more difficult to quantify), MSU had the highest emissions with regard to square footage.

MSU had about 13 metric tons of emissions per 1,000 square feet, compared to about 8 metric tons for Bemidji; about 8.5 metric tons for St. Cloud; and about 11 metric tons for Winona.

Anthony said MSU being “much higher than its peer institutions” goes back to the fact that the majority of its footprint is driven by building emissions. She said, moving forward, the important data will be measuring MSU's progress "against itself."

“Compared to St. Cloud State, we're almost 50 percent more (per 1,000 square feet), so we've got to dig into why that is,” said Rick Straka, vice president of finance and administration.

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