Over 80 percent of Luther’s carbon footprint is associated with the energy we use to heat, cool, and power our campus. When we first started measuring our carbon footprint in 2003-04, electricity purchases from our coal-intensive part of the U.S. electrical grid accounted for nearly 60 percent of our campus greenhouse gas emissions. The direct combustion of fossil fuels in our heating plant accounted for another 25 percent.
Over the last two decades, Luther College has worked with local partners to invest in several renewable energy systems to heat, cool, and power our campus while also reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. These investments include geothermal energy systems at Baker Village (1999) and the Center for the Arts (2003), a 1.6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine on the bluff west of campus (2011), and several solar photovoltaic (PV) systems totaling over 1.7 MW (2011-2020).
Today, Luther has reduced its carbon footprint approximately 72 percent since its peak emissions in 2003-2004. Most of these gains have been made by reducing electricity consumption via investments in energy efficiency as well as through the large renewable energy systems noted above. As a result, emissions from electricity purchases now only represent about 34 percent of Luther’s much-reduced carbon footprint. The emissions from the direct combustion of fossil fuels in our heating plant, however, now represent 41 percent of our carbon footprint. Luther recently commissioned an energy master plan from MEP Associates to identify ways to heat and cool the campus while also achieving our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
Luther College has been an EPA Green Power Partner since September 2012. To date, over 3.3 megawatts of wind and solar power Luther's campus. Based on EPA Green Power Partner data, Environment America listed Luther College in 2020 as one of the top five colleges and universities in the nation for the percentage of electricity that is generated by energy projects that are owned and operated by the school. Access Luther's most recent report to the EPA Green Power Partnership Program.