IAAU campaign to continue efforts

After five years in operation, the University of Minnesota’s “It All Adds Up” campaign now has statistics that reveal the success of its efforts.

The campaign has reduced carbon emissions on all University campuses and cut $7.6 million per year in energy costs alone. It has also launched several education efforts and received more than 10,000 pledges for individual or group commitments that encourage students, faculty and staff to live in a more environmentally friendly manner.

By targeting a variety of improvements, from building renovations to food sourcing and community outreach, the campaign has made sustainable changes in many areas of campus life.

It’s worth asking, however, whether the campaign’s accomplishments have been due to changes in campus practices and culture, or if they just reveal how many sustainability problems the University needs to address.

For example, a single building on campus was wasting about 1 million gallons of water annually before the University’s Facilities Management group helped reduce this waste.

The University has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2050. While the campaign has had a great start toward that goal, we’ll need to make sustainable changes, not just minor improvements, to reach it. The campaign is already making long-term plans, including a renovation of a main electricity plant to eliminate coal use.

If all the campaign’s long-term plans are implemented, carbon neutrality may become a real possibility. We hope to see it receive continuing support from campus government, staff and students.