The Minnesota State University, Mankato is a storied institution. Since it was founded in 1868, MSU, Mankato has grown to be the second-largest campus in the state. At a university with nearly 15,000 students, there are certainly a number of causes that the students, faculty and staff care about, but resources are always finite. With so many worthwhile things to use resources on, what rises to the top as important? We have some guesses: the projects people are passionate about, and willing to put in the time to complete. One such group is the team behind the Minnesota State University, Mankato Energy Savings and Sustainability project.
Minnesota State University, Mankato: Energy Savings and Sustainability — Environmental Innovation
Presented by Wenck
A university the size of Minnesota State University, Mankato consumes a vast amount of energy. If the average residential customer in the United States consumes over 800 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month, multiply that by 15,000 for the students — then add in the cost of faculty, staff and facilities. When you look at it that way, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s decision to focus on energy efficiency and sustainability must have been simple. Add in the passion that a college community can generate, and the answer becomes clear: “we must change the status quo.”
Of course, changing the status quo is easier said than done. Initially, Minnesota State University, Mankato drafted a Climate Action Plan and opted to make energy efficient changes, such as replacing lightbulbs and boilers. However, it also focused on ways to reduce their overall carbon footprint and improve education about the issue. By expanding the project to have a long-term, 18-year scope, Minnesota State University has demonstrated a desire to be a leader on climate action. On a large campus where many people and causes are vying for attention and resources, it’s heartening to see a wide-scale commitment to carbon reduction. And now the project is expanding in scope once more.
As part of the Minnesota State University, Mankato, Energy Savings and Sustainability project, the University has begun working with Xcel Energy on solutions for it and the wider Minnesota community. Not only has MSU, Mankato elected to use Xcel Energy for a large utility rebate, to help offset some energy costs as they make these transitions, but it has also been working with Xcel Energy to develop smaller-scale, clean energy solutions, such as batteries to store solar or wind power to be used during off times. This technology, which is being tested by professors and graduate students on campus, can be used by independent consumers, farmers and more.
It Pays to Save (Energy)
This project has been an investment for Minnesota State University, Mankato, but the result is lower costs in terms of money and carbon. The energy savings are estimated to be $404,000 per year for the 18-year project, and the carbon savings are projected to be 4,161 metric tons of carbon per year. That means the University will reduce its carbon footprint by 74,898 tons over the life of the project. While this scale of project isn’t necessary for the average consumer, the Energy Savings and Sustainability project is made up of a number of smaller projects that have a huge collective impact. To us, this proves that even one project makes a difference. The benefits of making the transition to more energy efficient and cleaner energy options are high; don’t let the costs get you down.
If we take away one thing from this project, it’s that we can all affect change. People on Minnesota State University, Mankato’s campus had hope that they could make a difference, regardless of the size of the school. Even though it’s a large institution, those people believed they could have a large impact — and they did. And it works on an even larger scale, too. Not long ago, Minnesota set a renewable energy goal to have utilities have at least 25 percent of their energy be from renewable sources by 2025, and we met it early. Now, as Governor Walz sets a goal of carbon free by 2050, we are seeing more and more the importance our state places on clean energy. We care about making a difference, and when we work together, we can make it happen.
Celebrate with the Minnesota State University Team
The Minnesota State University, Mankato: Energy Savings and Sustainability team has been working hard to improve their campus and operations. Join them as they take some well-deserved time off to celebrate their achievements at the Environmental Initiative Awards on May 22.