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Two universities discuss energy conservation work on campus

Anna Carlson, an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Bemidji State University, shares the results of her baseline inventory on BSU's greenhouse gas emissions for the past 10 years during the Northwest Clean Energy Resource Team's green campus forum Tuesday at BSU. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

While conservation may have low visibility, it has a high impact, Anthony Schaffhauser said during a green campus forum Tuesday in Bemidji.

The Northwest Clean Energy Resource Team held the forum at Bemidji State University. The forum focused on clean energy projects that professors and students are doing on the campuses of BSU and the University of Minnesota, Crookston.

"Some of the biggest impacts have the lowest visibility," said Schaffhauser, who is a member of the Northwest CERT steering committee and the executive director of the Center for Research and Innovation and Custom College in Bemidji.

Students and faculty from the two universities highlighted some of the clean energy projects at their campuses.

"One of our signature themes here at Bemidji State University is environmental stewardship," said Anna Carlson, an adjunct professor of environmental studies at BSU.

At the forum, Carlson spoke about her CERT-funded greenhouse gas inventory project. She calculated BSU's greenhouse gas emissions for the past 10 years using Clean Air-Cool Planet's online calculator.

"Data collection was definitely the bulk of this entire project," she said.

Carlson said the baseline inventory included both hard data and extrapolated data, and some data was not available.

The inventory focused on the areas of budget, energy, agriculture, solid waste and refrigeration. Also calculated into the inventory was the wind energy BSU has purchased since 2005, which offsets total emissions.

Carlson said the inventory showed that 65 percent of BSU's emissions came from purchased electricity, which is generated by a variety of resources.She said the inventory also showed that 32 percent of BSU's emissions come from on-campus energy generation, which is fueled by natural gas. One percent of the total emissions came from BSU's transportation fleet and 2 percent came from other sources.

Carlson said commuter and air travel were not included in the inventory. Both types of travel, she said, could account for a significant portion of emissions.

Also at the forum, Erika Bailey-Johnson, BSU's sustainability coordinator, spoke about her work on the BSU campus.

David Bahr, the chairman of BSU's Department of Physics and Sciences and an associate professor of physics, spoke about the CERT-funded research he and three BSU students conducted in 2006 on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in BSU's Sattgast Hall of Science.

Meanwhile, Linda Kingery, director of Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, spoke about various sustainability projects at UMC.

Paul Aakre, an assistant professor of mechanized agriculture at UMC, spoke about the CERT-funded farm-scale biofuel project he is leading.

Student Chris Waltz of UMC spoke about his CERT-funded project to try to get new student dormitories Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.

The forum attendees also discussed the new Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon initiative. Both universities are participants in the project.

Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon is a three-year initiative to give as many as 100 Minnesota public high schools, colleges and universities technical assistance and mini-grants to make their schools more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the CERT Web site.