University of Minnesota Duluth
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Duluth
UMD Sustainability

An Environmental Engineering class tours UMD’s natural-gas fired heating plant. The Steam Plant and distribution network have been upgraded to save energy.

Electricity and energy use account for 90% of UMD’s carbon footprint, making energy both an environmental and economic concern. Reducing energy use is a top priority in making our campus more sustainable, but with growing energy needs at a busy research university, this can be a complicated undertaking.

In UMD Facilities Management, energy is an ongoing challenge that has been on the forefront for decades; in fact, after a 40% increase in the size of our campus, energy efficiency and green building projects have helped UMD to avoid needing any extra boilers in our heating plant.

UMD buildings are heated by a central natural gas-fired heating plant and a district energy system that includes three main boilers. Although natural gas is relatively clean-burning, it is also a non-renewable fossil fuel that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Along with the size of our heating plant, campus electricity use has remained fairly stable despite significant campus growth. The electricity we purchase comes from Minnesota Power and, although they have added more renewable power in recent years, the fuel mix used to produce electricity is still dominated by coal.


Outdoor LED lighting cuts energy use in half and is Dark Sky compliant.

Energy efficiency and conservation

Efforts to reduce our energy usage on campus include building energy efficient buildings, using building controls, and adopting a Campus Temperature Standard.

UMD has earned 56 Energy Efficiency Project rebates from our conservation partners at Minnesota Power since 2007 (our baseline for Greenhouse Gas reporting), totaling almost $400,000. For example, investments in chilled water lines and steam district upgrades keep cooling and heating systems on campus working efficiently.

How does reducing energy use and looking for clean energy sources help our campus?

  • Saves money
  • Reduces pollution and UMD’s greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change

Minnesota GreenCorps representative Sam Domeier did a study on energy conservation at UMD. His research was presented at the Department of Commerce.

Renewable Energy

UMD faculty and students have built several renewable energy demonstration projects for both Solar and Wind technologies. Watch out for another solar project is coming to campus this summer!

Green Revolving Fund

The UMD Green Revolving Fund invests in energy-saving projects at UMD to reduce energy consumption and become a more sustainable campus. Funded projects provide long-term financial savings to the University. Additionally, energy rebates earned by the projects help to pay back into the fund, building equity and helping fund future projects.  Click here to read about projects funded by the Green Revolving Fund

Other resources

UMD Energy Action Plan

Greenhouse Gas Inventory



UMD Sustainability
The UMD Sustainability website is administered by the University of Minnesota Duluth's Office of Sustainability.
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