Through excellence in environmental education, research, outreach and stewardship, the University shall sttrive to be a world leader by promoting and demonstrating sustainability and energy efficiency and by producing leaders and informed citizens.


Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Cedar Creek Natural History Area is a large ecological research site in central Minnesota with natural habitats that represent the entire state. The people of Cedar Creek are dedicated to understanding our planet’s ecosystems and how they are changing under human pressures. Through research, conservation, and education, Cedar Creek will continue to bridge the gaps between science, community, and government.

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Chicago Climate Exchange

In December 2004 the University of Minnesota joined the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), a voluntary, legally binding multisector market for reducing and trading greenhouse gas emissions. The university is the fourth educational institution and the largest public research university to join CCX. The action places the university in a small but growing group of organizations committed to the development of a rules-based North American greenhouse gas emission reduction program, and involves the Energy Management division of Facilities Management, the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), the College of
Biological Sciences, and many scholars from across our campus.

The Chicago Climate Exchange is a pilot program for reducing and trading greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Members with direct emissions have agreed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by four percent below the average of their 1998-2001 baselines by 2006, the last year of the pilot program. Members that make further reductions can be compensated by selling reduction credits to members for whom a four percent reduction would be technically or economically difficult. Greenhouse gases covered by the agreement are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

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E20 Fuel

In 2006, the University of Minnesota began testing a portion of its non-E85 fleet to run on E20, a new fuel proposed by the State of Minnesota that is 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent unleaded gasoline. Converting tanks to E20 will cut pumping of fuel from 20,000 gallons to 8,000 gallons annually. The University also began buying bio-diesel fuel, B20, in May of 2006 which utilizes soybeans and waste cooking grease within 20 percent of the fuel.

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Green Construction

The University attained LEED Silver certification on the 50,000-seat TCF Bank Stadium in 2009 and LEED Gold on the Science Teaching and Student Services building in 2011. A total of ten buildings throughout the University system have achieved LEED Certification standards. All buildings at the University of Minnesota also follow the State of Minnesota’s Sustainable Building Guidelines (B3), which result in buildings comparable to a LEED Silver standard or higher. The University’s Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Policy further requires sustainable design guidelines to be applied to all major new construction and renovation projects.

To take a virtual tour of the sustainable components within STSS, visit

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Institute on the Environment

Institute on the Environment.Pollution and public health, the loss of biodiversity, the food vs. fuel dilemma — all in the context of a changing climate — encompass just a few of the complexities facing today’s world. Accordingly, the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment has mobilized scholars from the natural and social sciences, design, engineering, law, health, public policy and other disciplines to collectively discover solutions and deliver results. With Minnesota’s vast forests, plains, rivers and lakes as the backdrop, these transdisciplinary teams can address the environmental impacts on America’s heartland and beyond. Essentially, the Institute serves as the gateway to and the link between “all things environmental” at the University of Minnesota, creating a national model for research, communication and implementation.

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Initiative on Renewable Energy and the Environment

The Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, part of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, is helping to lead the transition to a more sustainable energy future. Since 2003, IREE has supported nearly 400 researchers focused on bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts; solar and wind power; energy conservation; renewable hydrogen; and policy, economics and ecosystems. This research has resulted in publication in international science journals, technology patents and disclosures, solid partnerships with external stakeholders, and the education of the next generation of renewable energy experts. In 2007, the legislature established more permanent funding for IREE, which will facilitate an even broader range of renewable energy research and demonstration.

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University of Minnesota Extension Service

In order to educate Minnesotans interested in topics ranging from renewable energy to food safety, the University of Minnesota has established an Extension Service that provides community access to University resources through various county and regional offices around the state. By having these various offices, University organizations are able to reach out to communities to spread awareness for their respective issues of interest, as well as be able to respond to individual queries through area extension educators. With such organizations as the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) and the Center for Urban Ecosystems and Sustainability (CUES) represented, essential ecological issues are receiving increasingly widespread attention through in print information and personal meetings made possible by this program.

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UMore Park

The University is developing a vision for a University-funded community on its 5,000-acre property in Dakota County. The community at the University of Minnesota Outreach, Research, and Education (UMore) Park site would be a unique and lasting legacy of discovery and research-based education that helps to sustain people and communities in the region. Developed over 25 to 30 years, the community would help establish a vital regional economy that is characterized by enriched communities, thriving businesses, and educational, social, and natural amenities. University research and education would differentiate the community and contribute to quality of life, innovation, a sense of place, close connection with the natural environment, and sustainability. Planning and development will engage faculty and students in research projects over time that relate to energy-efficiency, environmental quality, and design
that supports social connectedness.

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U Pass/Metro Pass

Since 2000, the University’s U-Pass and Metro Pass programs have offered students and faculty/staff a low-cost, unlimited ride transit pass that is good on every bus and rail route in the Twin Cities. The program has been a tremendous success with more than 20,000 students using the U-Pass program in fall 2007. Transit ridership at the University has increased 146 percent since the program was introduced, reducing more than 50,000 vehicle miles and saving more than 2,000 gallons of gasoline daily. The reduced driving also eliminates more than
220 tons of carbon monoxide and 4,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.