College implements Energy Conservation Program to reduce energy consumption and achieve sustainability goals

May 13, 2010

Luther College has developed a comprehensive Energy Conservation Program that will help the college achieve its goal of reducing the college’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent.

Partially funded by a grant from the Rocky Mountain Institute and developed in conjunction with Sebesta Blomberg, a national engineering firm based in Minneapolis, the new Luther Energy Conservation Program proposes a comprehensive plan to reduce campus energy use.

There are two major goals in the program. First, to reduce energy consumption by three percent per year through investments in more energy efficient equipment. Second, to reduce energy consumption by two percent per year through the implementation of an energy awareness educational program.

“The really unique part of Luther’s plan is the focus on energy reduction through culture change. We hope to achieve a two percent reduction through education,” said Maren Stumme-Diers, Luther assistant sustainability coordinator.

“I don’t know of any other schools that have set this type of goal,” she said. “Most schools focus on conservation through improvements in energy efficiency technology.”

Luther has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 15 percent in recent years through significant investments in energy efficiency. The college intends to continue this reduction through the newly implemented Energy Conservation Plan.

Short-term goals to be achieved by December 2010 include:

  • Campus-wide participation and commitment to energy conservation
  • Installing a system that allows the college to track real time energy use and communicate that information on campus to the college community
  • Developing a team of students to foster the implementation of energy conserving measures on campus
  • Launching a targeted educational campaign that focuses on one main topic per semester
  • Completing the installation of additional meters to monitor the consumption of electricity, steam heat and water in all major campus buildings

Last fall, a series of five stakeholder meetings with students, staff, faculty and administrators was held to engage the community in discussion about how to develop the college’s energy conservation program. An additional 186 stakeholders who were unable to attend the meetings participated in an online survey.

The survey results showed that the Luther community is concerned about the college’s environmental footprint, believes that reducing energy consumption is a shared responsibility and wants goals for energy use reduction to be achievable.