University of Minnesota, Morris

As a public liberal arts college, University of Minnesota, Morris is unique in the higher education landscape providing access and quality to undergraduate students. Sierra Club Cool has recognized Morris as the #1 “Cool School” in Minnesota. We earned an AASHE STARS Gold rating.

Morris is a leader in climate and energy work. Morris reduced its carbon footprint by 40% since 2005, with a goal of carbon neutrality by 2015. The campus community, including students, faculty and staff, work on climate change and sustainability efforts. Twin 1.65MW wind turbines provide over 60% of Morris’s annual electricity, generating more energy than we consume — 5M kWhrs of “green” electricity, which can be sold to other schools. We made the EPA’s Top 30 On-site Generation list, the only higher educational institution that generates over half its power. Energy systems on campus include: a biomass gasification CHP plant, solar thermal system, solar PV, and green buildings. Our Welcome Center is a historic, LEED Gold building, and first in Minnesota to use chilled-beam technology. In 2013, we opened the Green Prairie Community residence hall, an intentional learning community, which will be certified LEED Gold and was built with insulated concrete form (ICF) construction. We completed a performance contract over $4M dollars to lessen our footprint and we have cut our annual electricity use by 1M kWhrs per year.

Morris students are leading the way on campus, state and nation. In 2013, Morris students received the AASHE Student Sustainability Leadership Award with partners; a Morris student shaped the effort as the liaison between the State of Minnesota Environmental Quality Board and student groups. In 2013, our student body has included a Udall Scholar and a NWF Campus Ecology Fellow. The current chair of the statewide Minnesota Public Research Group (MPIRG), and several statewide officers, are Morris students. Morris students collaborated to deliver a forum with Will Steger on climate change. Morris students led the creation of a composting system on campus, diverting 20 tons of food waste to soil production. Students run our recycling program, on-campus organic garden and Native American Garden, and hold lead positions in the Morris Healthy Eating Initiative. Morris helped launch the Minnesota GreenCorps, and hosts a member working on community food efforts. Morris students partnered to launch a Citizens Climate Lobby in town. And, 11 students presented at the 2013 Upper Midwest Association Conference about their sustainability-related work. Morris students serve as Green Ambassadors, providing “green energy” tours to hundreds of visitors and students.

Institutionally, Morris is home to Center for Small Towns, improving the sustainability of small towns for over a decade by connecting talented Morris students with regional communities. The Office of Community Engagement connects 30% of the student body each year with meaningful service opportunities, including in sustainability-related service. Educationally, 78% of our disciplines have sustainability courses and 67% of our departments conduct sustainability-related research. And, Morris faculty were awarded for integrating sustainability into their chemistry curriculum. At Morris, our ideals have been put into action.