Carleton’s Divestment

In February 2023 the Board of Trustees voted to reduce exposure to fossil fuel investments in the college’s endowment by immediately eliminating all direct holdings of fossil fuel companies, and resolving to make no new investments in private funds that focus exclusively on oil and gas extraction.

Carleton is leading a Just Energy Transition

During the summer of 2021, Carleton became the first campus in Minnesota and one of a handful of a few dozen nationally to install a district energy geothermal system. As of 2023 our emissions are now down 56% from our baseline reporting year in fiscal year 2008. Take a deep dive into our emissions data.

East Energy Station
Hot water boilers in the East Energy Station beneath Anderson Hall.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions are down thanks to two commercial-scale wind turbines, the geothermal system and the “greening” of Xcel’s electricity grid. There has been a slight uptick as air travel comes back post-COVID, but have currently exceeded both our 2025 and 2030 interim reduction milestones.

Campus Carbon Emissions: 2008–2023

Carleton's annual emissions between 2008 and 2023.
Carleton has reduced its campus greenhouse gas emissions by 59% since fiscal year 2008. Scope 1- Direct Operations, Scope 2- Purchased Electricity, Scope 3- Indirect Emissions

Bore Fields

  • Bell Field: 95 horizontal bores, 510 feet long, completed in Summer/Fall 2017
  • Mini Bald Spot: 77 vertical bores, 520 feet deep, completed in Summer/Fall 2017
  • Bald Spot: 134 vertical bores, 520 feet deep, completed in Summer/Fall 2018

Carleton is proud to have a diverse and resilient energy system newly constructed for the 21st century through the Utility Master Plan. The new geothermal and heat pump system will account for 60-70% of the College’s heating and cooling needs year-round.

Before the completion of the Geothermal project in 2021, the last time Carleton College made a major shift in its campus utilities was over 100 years ago with construction of the central plant in 1910. Before that, each individual building was heated by a coal furnace or fireplaces.

Wind Turbines

Carleton installed its first, 1.65-MW wind turbine in 2004 – and was the first higher-ed institution in the country to do so! The electricity that it produces is sold back to our energy provider Xcel Energy, rather than connecting it directly to our campus grid, but this indirect energy production is equivalent to approximately one-third of Carleton’s total energy usage.

Carleton built its second wind turbine in 2011, thanks to a generous grant in 2008 from environmentally-minded alumni Richard and Laurie Kracum (both ’76).