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Carleton wins sustainability award for Utility Master Plan

On July 14, Carleton received the 2019 Excellence in Sustainability Award from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). Only one other college in the U.S.— Swarthmore College—received this prestigious prize.

NACUBO, a membership organization established in 1962, currently represents more than 1,900 colleges and universities across the country.

The 2019 Excellence in Sustainability award recognizes Carleton College for transforming the energy profile of its campus with its Utility Master Plan, developed in 2011. Through initiatives including the transition of its 100-year-old steam system to heating water from a centralized ground source geothermal heat pump system, the college anticipates a 40-percent reduction in central plant energy use and a sizeable reduction in carbon emissions.

The Utility Master Plan utilizes four forms of renewable energy technology: wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and geothermal energy. The plan is also one of the first of its kind; Carleton is the first college in Minnesota to install a district-energy scale geothermal system and the first to install a commercial-size wind turbine. According to the plan’s timeline, Carleton will rely exclusively on heat from hot water by 2022.

Carleton’s Sustainability Department was ecstatic to receive the award, according to Alexandra Miller, Carleton’s Sustainability Program Coordinator. “NACUBO isn’t normally an organization that the Sustainability Office works with, but rather business officers for the college. So it was nice for Carleton to be recognized for its sustainability work beyond the normal organizations we work with,” Miller explained.

“NACUBO award recipients exemplify the best of the sector,” said NACUBO President and CEO Susan Whealler Johnston. “Carleton College and Swarthmore College are the innovative pioneers the higher education community needs to model as we look for creative ways to evolve and improve.”

As for future sustainability projects, Miller said, “We have a variety of on-going annual programs, like the Repair Fair, Free and For Sale Frenzy, and Climate Action Week.”

The award was presented to Carleton on July 14, 2019 at the NACUBO annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

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