I. Introduction

Since its founding in 1861, Luther College has remained true to its roots while preparing graduates to respond to a changing world. As we look ahead to the next century and beyond, global environmental problems, resource scarcity, and climate change will threaten the health of the planet. They will also present economic and operational challenges for Luther College. Our commitment to relevant and transformative experiences for students pushes us to seek sustainability through greater efficiencies and new policies in operations while preparing graduates with the skills, knowledge, and experience to lead society in a more sustainable direction.

As a college of the church, striving for sustainability is anchored in our call to be good stewards of God’s creation and responsible citizens in the global community. As a strategic imperative, sustainability pushes us to reduce our energy usage, revise consumption patterns, and explore renewable energy production strategies in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability must be more than another program or task to accomplish; it must weave itself into all areas of college life, from curriculum to physical plant to choices made by faculty, staff, and students. By building upon Luther’s decision to be a charter signatory of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment and the significant progress that has already been made, we must be bold in our efforts and become a leader within the educational community.

This Climate Action Plan is rooted in Luther’s Sesquicentennial Strategic Plan endorsed by the Board of Regents in May 2008. This plan guides all areas of college decision-making, including our efforts related to climate change. “Connecting Sustainability, Stewardship, and Global Citizenship” is one of three strategic imperatives in this plan that includes the following specific recommendations:

  • Create a Center for Sustainable Communities to be a catalyst for change locally and regionally.
  • Model stewardship and sustainability in all college operations to reduce Luther’s environmental impact and mitigate operational costs.
  • Design and implement a campus land use plan that affirms land stewardship, sustainability, and landscape designer Jens Jensen’s original vision for the Luther campus in 1911.
  • Reduce Luther’s carbon footprint by 50 percent and develop a plan to achieve carbon neutrality.
  • Nurture connection to place in all stakeholders.
  • Continue sustainable and strategic enhancements of the plant and facilities with a focus on student learning, energy payback, campus needs, and economic return.

The following pages outline Luther’s specific plans for the next few years under the President’s Climate Commitment. Beginning with greenhouse gas emission inventories, this document lays out Luther’s current plan to achieve the short-term target of reducing the College’s carbon footprint by 50 percent. Equally important with this bold operational goal are Luther’s commitments to integrate sustainability into the learning experience of every student and to find ways to enhance our work on sustainability related research and community outreach.