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University of North Dakota

Committed to Energy Sustainability


Alexandra Burbach Julie Bean Khloud Alsaddigi Robert Rainbow


Committed to Energy Sustainability

The University of North Dakota is doing its part to conserve energy and protect the environment. In January 2008, President Kupchella signed the Presidents Campus Climate Commitment, demonstrating a pledge to reduce the institutions contributions to greenhouse gas emissions to help reduce the effects of global warming. Since that time the University is working to develop more sustainable energy sources, becoming less dependent on fossil fuels and implementing energy efficiency measures that have positively impacted campus life and beyond.


Committed to Energy Sustainability

Importance of Sustainable Energy As we live day to day in this world we take for granted the air we breathe, the water we drink and the environment we live in. In today’s modern times education is the key. In order to become an energy efficient society, we need to educate those around us on how do so. How we live today will affect how our grandchildren live in the future.


Committed to Energy Sustainability Why Address Climate Change “Climate change is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as any significant change in measures of climate, such as temperature, precipitation or wind, lasting for an extended period, meaning decades or longer. Generally, it is caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, which have caused concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) to increase significantly and in the atmosphere. The estimated adverse consequences of the unprecedented scale and speed of the greenhouse effect could reach all sectors of society – health, social, financial and ecological – in all corners of the world” (Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, 2009). “North Dakota is not immune to changes,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state could experience: ·

Worsening droughts


Increase in temperature by nearly seven degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.


Extreme weather events, including periods of increased rainfall and severe drought


More intense and frequent rainfalls when precipitation occurs


Agricultural, water resources and tourism may be affected in a variety of ways and could result in significant losses (Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, 2009).


Committed to Energy Sustainability Benefits of the Commitment Some of the major benefits to becoming climate neutral include: ·

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming


Recognition as a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions


Reduce energy usage, in turn reducing campus operational costs


Attract top level students, faculty and staff and new funding sources from state and local government as well as alumni (Climate Action Plan, 2010).

UND’s Progress Report The University of North Dakota was recently named to the Top 311 Green Colleges in the United States by the Princeton Review for their efforts related to sustainable energy research and implementation (The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges, 2011). The following are steps UND has taken toward becoming a green college.


Committed to Energy Sustainability

Working Towards Climate Neutrality After signing the pledge in 2008, the President began implementing a plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. The plan identified the following goals: ·

Establish an institutional structure to carry out the plan – President Kupchella appointed a core group of individuals to the Council on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability to guide the efforts towards climate neutrality.


Conduct a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory – A comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory was completed and published in January 2009, which identified the institutions current greenhouse gas emissions. The inventory projected that using current investment plans, carbon dioxide levels will decrease 51 percent by 2050 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, 2009).


Develop a Climate Action Plan – A comprehensive Climate Action Plan was developed and published in May 2010 for outlining the goals towards climate neutrality. Tangible actions based on this plan have already been implemented and are discussed below (Climate Action Plan, 2010).


Committed to Energy Sustainability

Energy Conservation Improvements As a result of its commitment, UND has made several changes to help reduce energy usage which includes the installation of: 

Restroom sensor lighting – Lights automatically turn off when not in use and will save $14,896 per year (University of North Dakota, 2012).

Hallway lighting sensors – Lights automatically turn off when not in use and will save $12,814 per year (University of North Dakota, 2012).

Exterior induction lighting improvements – New indication lights will last up to 10 years and if the light runs only half of the time, it can last up to 20 years each, saving approximately $7,876 per year. The time line for maintenance has gone down from changing the light bulbs every other year to changing them between 10-20 years (University of North Dakota, 2012).

Energy efficient hand dryers – experimental hand dryers have been installed across campus. The hand dryers reduce the labor of paper towel dispensers, the waste of paper towels, and the labor of empting waste bins. They also dry your hands in exactly 12 seconds, and will pay for themselves in one year as well as use 80% less energy than warm air hand dryers (University of North Dakota, 2012).

Carbon dioxide sensors – Sensors will measure CO2 levels in rooms and adjustments will be made with automation equipment to increase/reduce ventilation as needed depending on occupancy (University of North Dakota, 2012).


Committed to Energy Sustainability 

New Building Construction & Remodeling is LEED Certified – energy efficiency guidelines have been established for all new building projects (Climate Action Plan, 2010).

Water conservation measures have been put in place, such as low-flow toilets, drinking fountains, and motion sensor sinks (University of North Dakota, 2012).

Online metering technology – Energy usage for campus buildings is available online for monitoring (Climate Action Plan, 2010).

Researching Sustainable Energy Sources The University of North Dakota is committed to researching sustainable energy options. Through its SUNRISE organization, more than 150 students have researched sustainable energy in the following three areas: 1. Technologies to enable the environmentally sustainable use of coal; 2. The production of fuels, chemicals, polymers, and composites from renewable sources; 3. The harvesting of energy from alternative sources (The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges, 2011).


Committed to Energy Sustainability

UND’s Future Goals The overall purpose of the commitment is to reduce GHG emissions. As a result, all future projects require “a combination of actions from relatively low-cost options, such as addressing energy conservation on campus through energy policy and behavioral changes, to more large-scale projects such as bringing in new renewable technologies that can displace fossil fuel burning” (Climate Action Plan, 2010).

Continuing the Efforts The University of North Dakota has committed to the following goals: 1. Continually work on securing new funding for projects. Relevant actions include acquiring funding through the alumni association, as well as student-led projects like the green student fee, student investment fund, and other efforts through the student senate (Climate Action Plan, 2010). 2. Increasing the rate and continuing to sell the steam produced from the coal-fire steam plan to outside sources, and the money received from these sales will be earmarked for carbon reduction projects (Climate Action Plan, 2010).


Committed to Energy Sustainability 3. Reducing energy usage associated with vending machine contracts that use machines which are of ENERGY STAR and VendingMiser technologies (Climate Action Plan, 2010). Savings for these machines would be more than $26,550 per year in energy costs. 4. Implementing water saving measures to improve water efficiency by establishing a system for the capture of storm and grey water (Climate Action Plan, 2010). 5. Continually research, develop and produce on-campus renewable energy through major technological advances and large-scale renewable energy projects, such as retrofitting the boiler in steam plan to burn 10 percent biomass, installing wind turbines, solar energy, ground source heat pumps, and producing a high diversity energy crop (Climate Action Plan, 2010).


Committed to Energy Sustainability

Recommendations for the Future 1. Hire a sustainability coordinator on campus as soon as possible. The coordinator could then begin the intended outreach efforts to educate the campus and the community through events and marketing campaigns (Climate Action Plan, 2010). 2. Incorporate institutional environmental and energy programs and efforts during orientation programs for freshman and international students. 3. Form a UND student organization for the UND energy and environmental sustainability programs that inform and educate the students, faculty, and members with UND efforts. 4. When implementing energy improvement programs, such as installing hand dryers in the bathrooms, do not hinder good practice. For example, consider how, without paper towels, people will open doors without passing along germs. 5. Energy efficient programs need to be implemented in ways that are practical to human needs. For example, fighting with the bathroom tissue is frustrating. More than two sheets of toilet paper should be dispensed at a time.


Committed to Energy Sustainability

References Climate Action Plan. (2010). Grand Forks, ND: University of North Dakota. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. (2009). Grand Forks, ND: University of North Dakota. The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges. (2011). The Princeton Review, Inc. University of North Dakota. (2012). University implementing campus sustainability improvements. Retrieved from: p=22706 University of North Dakota. (2008). UND pledges to continue reducing carbon footprint, energy consumption. Retrieved from:



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