Location: Facilities Conference Room

Time: 3:30 pm

Present George Vrtis, Erica Zweifel, Andrew Farias, Yiwen Luo, Martha Larson, Jonathan Lafky

Absent Mary Savina, Sharan Ganjam Seshachallam, Tanya Hartwig, Alex Miller

Secretary: Martha Larson


1) Lighten Up Garage Sale is gearing up and collection in the dorms will begin the week of May 28.  Sale will take place in Laird Stadium this year on June 22-23.  Faculty and staff will see a Carleton Weekly announcement shortly about where to drop off items for the sale and sign up to volunteer.

2) New Sustainability Office Staff were announced, there will be 5 returning and 8 new STAs in 2018-2019.

3) Carleton is nine months into its Renewable Connect contract with Xcel.  This form of green electricity purchase was recommended by the 2017-2018 EAC to “buy back” the RECs (renewable energy credits) that Carleton currently sells to Xcel with the power from Wind Turbine 1.  So far, Renewable Connect has contributed 3,375 MWH of green energy which is within 5% of what the turbine produced. The net cost (Renewable connect and fuel adjustment credits) thus far is $24,645 which is within 4% of the estimated cost per the Renewable Connect proposal. 


1) REUSABLE THERMOSES – The EAC discussed a student proposal to purchase reusable thermoses for each incoming freshman as part of New Student Week give-aways in exchange for removing disposable cups in the dining halls. Over 150,000 disposable cups are used annually in the dining halls costing over $30,000. St. Olaf does not allow disposable cups nor are students allowed to remove anything from the dining hall. The proposal notes that if cups were removed from Carleton’s dining halls it could create inequity given that some students may not be able to easily afford a reusable thermos. There would be an opt-out option for students who don’t want one, and extras would go to returning Carleton students.

EAC Discussion: The EAC wondered how many students would actually use the thermoses and thought it seemed duplicative since many students already have thermoses. They agreed that waste from disposable cups is a problem and suggested that perhaps thermoses from Lighten Up or the Lost and Found could be repurposed instead of buying new items for all students. The idea of “swag” in any form goes against environmental principles. The EAC voted not to endorse the proposal but agreed that reusable cups in the dining halls is a problem that deserves further consideration.  


2) SOLAR PV DONATION – Martha Larson described a proposal from two Carleton alumni to purchase for Carleton a large (4-6 MW), ground mounted solar PV system. They would benefit from the tax credits and depreciation, but would want to somehow recover the remaining cost through Carleton’s resulting electricity savings or another source. This project would satisfy “Phase 3” of the Utility Master Plan which is to obtain renewable energy to offset the increased electric load from the geothermal system. The only available Carleton-owned land that would fit an array of this size is the agricultural field just north of the softball fields and the agricultural land at the NW corner of Canada Ave. and Highway 19.

EAC discussion – The EAC recommends that the College take the next step in asking the alumni to provide a formal proposal. They noted that the “pollinator pledge” to plant pollinator plants under the array should be a requirement. They noted concerns about the visual impact of a large solar array and advised that Carleton should plan carefully to address the “optics” of a project of this scale. But solar PV can also be seen as a temporary use that in turn preserves the land for other future uses.


3) CARLETON AQUIFER RESEARCH LAB (CARL) PROPOSAL – Martha Larson summarized a joint proposal between the Energy & Sustainability Office and the Geology Department to turn Carleton’s Bald Spot geothermal field into a campus “lab”. The proposal would replace 100 ft. of the concrete fill material with pea gravel which would allow more groundwater flow through the field and potentially increase its efficiency. There would also be a monitoring bore at the center of the field where instrumentation could be placed to measure groundwater flow and temperature. In addition, there would be four “sentinel” bores at the corners which consist of a temperature cable running the full depth of each well (520 ft). The cost of the pea gravel is $91,000 and the monitoring and instrumentation is $90,000.  Funding has not yet been fully identified. 

EAC discussion – the EAC noted that as an academic institution, Carleton would be short-sighted if it missed the opportunity to instrument the geothermal bore fields and thus create an academic opportunity out of this project. The total cost of $181,000 is not out of line when compared with the cost of any other lab or major piece of science equipment. The potential benefits would justify the cost for years to come. There would be many opportunities to tie the lab into Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) programming and possibly connect it to ACE funding proposals. This is an opportunity to share Carleton’s project with the world and have actual data to describe outcomes. The EAC suggested further communication with physics and computer science for additional buy-in and support. They also asked if Development has potential matches that could help fund the proposal.