On May 21, after more than a century of continuous steam plant operation, Carleton completed its five-year-long transition to geothermal energy. The move will yield massive energy savings and puts the college, which has reduced its carbon footprint by 50 percent since 2008, significantly closer to its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 (after one year of operation with only half the system online, natural gas consumption on campus decreased by more than 40 percent).
An End of Steam Celebration marked the occasion, complete with steam whistle send-offs between class periods and a nighttime lighting of Carleton’s iconic 1941 smokestack. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, cohost and cocreator of the podcast How to Save a Planet, also gave a convocation focused on women leading climate action in America. “We really have most of the solutions [to climate change] at our fingertips,” Johnson told those viewing the presentation on Zoom. “We don’t need a lot of fancy new technology. We just need to get to work.”