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University of Minnesota-Morris says it now has a net zero carbon footprint

A national leader in sustainability, the campus says it has achieved full carbon neutrality

After years of nationally renowned sustainability efforts, the University of Minnesota-Morris says it has achieved carbon neutrality.

This means the campus produces the same amount of energy it consumes, eliminating its carbon footprint. Clean energy sources that don't give off carbon dioxide, such as wind, solar panels and a biomass-burning facility allow the campus to avoid producing carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. 

The campus has established itself as a leader in sustainability over the years. In 2019,  Environment America ranked it No. 1 for producing the most renewable energy per full-time student. The campus was ranked fifth out of participating colleges for overall performance in sustainability in the Sustainability Campus Index's 2018 report, which uses criterions such as water conservation, public engagement and waste management. 

Just a handful of other colleges nationwide have announced carbon neutrality, including American University in Washington, D.C. and the University of San Francisco. 

About 70 percent of its electricity comes from renewables, either produced on campus or bought from Otter Tail Power Company. Around 60 percent of the campus' electricity comes from its two 1.65 megawatt wind turbines. The campus also generates renewable energy from its biomass gasification plant, which burns plant matter and uses the steam for energy, as well as several solar photovoltaic systems. 

Troy Goodnough, the university’s sustainability director, told MPR News that the university's excess of wind power allowed it to buy renewable energy credits, which offset the fossil fuels that it buys from Otter Tail Power Company. 

Goodnough also said the campus has additional energy initiatives, such as finding a way to store clean energy, MPR News reported. 

"This is an accomplishment not only for the faculty and staff who have helped inspire our campus energy journey, but also and especially for the students who have played a leading role in helping to develop our energy plans, energy monitoring, analysis, and more," said University Chancellor Michelle Behr in a statement. 

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