Over the last two decades, Luther College has constructed several renewable energy systems. These projects heat, cool, and power our campus while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We've done this work both independently, and in partnership with local investors.
Over 80 percent of Luther’s carbon footprint is associated with the energy we use to heat, cool, and power our campus. When we first started measuring our carbon footprint in 2003–04, electricity purchases from our coal-intensive part of the U.S. electrical grid accounted for nearly 60 percent of our campus greenhouse gas emissions. The direct combustion of fossil fuels in our heating plant accounted for another 25 percent.
In the decades since, Luther has added renewable energy production. The grid that supplies electricity purchases has also gotten “greener.” We’ve used more renewables and less coal to produce power.
Today, Luther has reduced its carbon footprint approximately 72 percent since its peak emissions in 2003–04. Most of these gains have been made by reducing electricity consumption via investments in energy efficiency as well as through the large renewable energy systems:
- Geothermal energy systems at Baker Village (1999) and the Center for the Arts (2003)
- 1.6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine on the bluff west of campus (2011)
- Several solar photovoltaic (PV) systems totaling over 1.7 MW (2011–2020).
As a result, emissions from electricity purchases now only represent about 34 percent of Luther’s much-reduced carbon footprint. The emissions from the direct combustion of fossil fuels in our heating plant, however, now represent 41 percent of our carbon footprint. Luther recently commissioned an energy master plan from MEP Associates to identify ways to heat and cool the campus while also achieving our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.