As a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Luther is obligated to measure its campus carbon footprint. This footprint is produced via direct emissions of greenhouse gases associated with combustion of fossil fuels for heating and transportation, indirect emissions associated with electricity purchases and finally other emissions related to solid waste, refrigerants, land use management, air travel, etc.
In the summers of 2007 and 2008, a student researcher worked closely with Luther’s director of facilities services to inventory all of Luther’s greenhouse gas emissions beginning with the 2002-03 academic year. The Clean Air-Cool Planet Carbon Calculator was used to conduct this study. Data from the 2013-2014 year is available online.
Thus far, Luther has been able to reduce its campus carbon footprint by 15.5 percent from its peak in the 2003-04 academic year. This was primarily accomplished through a $1.5 million investment in energy efficiency. The energy savings from these energy efficiency measures are enabling Luther to pay back this investment in less than seven years.
One of the goals in Luther’s new five-year strategic plan is to cut the college’s carbon footprint in half, ideally by 2011-12 when Luther celebrates its sesquicentennial. The college anticipates making a significant investment in a renewable energy system to achieve this goal.