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


Ron Fields, assistant vice president for facilities management, said a more detailed look at what building types are being compared would be helpful. If MSU has more lab facilities, for example, those result in more emissions. Dorms are another example, with energy being used 24 hours per day.

He and Davenport also suggested comparing MSU to an institution similar in size, such as the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, for more “apples to apples” measurements.

When looking at the per-student comparison, MSU had the second-highest carbon footprint with about 3 metric tons of emissions per student. Winona had the highest with about 3.5 metric tons per student.

The study only looked at full-time students in that analysis, which Davenport questioned. He asked that future data include the part-time population to give a more complete picture.

When looking at the survey results for commuting data, more students reported walking to campus than driving alone in automobiles. Whereas the majority of faculty and staff drove alone to work (didn't carpool), resulting in more emissions.

Recycling was another area Anthony saw room for improvement. She said the university only recycled about 19 percent of its solid waste during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Overall, she said the report simply establishes a baseline and should be used to spark conversation about the best ways to make energy-use reductions.

Straka said the next steps will be to look at the mechanical building functions, as well as the “culture of how we use energy.”

Anthony said opportunities for reductions could lie in energy-efficient building projects and renovations; energy management; improvements to bicycle amenities; and parking considerations, such as preferred parking stalls for carpoolers.

Davenport said the university has made a commitment to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The goal of “supporting energy efficiency, resource conservation and sustainability” was made part of the university’s Strategic Plan for 2010-2015.

“Overall, I think the performance of the school is (good), and it's a good baseline for getting started in the future,” Anthony said.

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