Luther reduces campus carbon footprint by 15%

November 03, 2008

Sixth year of Luther carbon footprint data completed

Luther College recently released the results of a carbon footprint analysis for the 2007-08 academic year. The data shows that Luther has reduced its campus carbon footprint by 15 percent.

The college's greenhouse gas emissions peaked at 20,927 metric tons in the 2003-04 academic year. These emissions were reduced to 17,672 metric tons in 2007-08, primarily 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 plans to invest in a renewable energy system to achieve this goal.

A measure of its environmental impact, an organization's carbon 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 other emissions associated with solid waste disposal including use of refrigerants, land use management and air travel.

Electricity and heating together contribute 83 percent of Luther's emissions and account for the biggest portion of the college's carbon footprint.

As a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Luther is obligated to conduct annual inventories of its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Clean Air-Cool Planet Carbon Calculator is used for the calculations.

The inventories for the past six academic years are available online at

During the summers of 2007 and 2008 Luther student researcher Megan Selvig 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. This data was extracted from the financial records of the institution to assure consistency and accuracy.