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Green Revolving Fund

The UMD Green Revolving Fund was established to invest in sustainable projects at UMD. Projects are intended to contribute to efforts to save energy and become a more sustainable campus, along with providing long-term financial savings to the University of Minnesota. Savings and rebates are paid back into the fund, building equity, and helping to fund future projects.

In 2011, UMD Facilities Management provided $100,000 seed money from utility savings to support the Green Revolving Fund. Energy rebates obtained by UMD Facilities Management are also provided back to the Fund, to serve campus and invest in future energy savings. UMD Economics student Stacy Gerths was instrumental in getting the fund established, through a Sustainable Development Research Opportunity Project.

With innovative efforts from students, faculty, and staff from across the UMD campus, together we can help lower campus emissions to 25% of 2007 levels by 2020 and operate a carbon neutral campus by 2050, as outlined in UMD’s Energy Action Plan.

What are the goals of the Fund?

The Green Revolving Fund’s primary goals are to reduce the campus carbon footprint, help UMD save money, help educate the campus community about sustainability issues, and to help increase interdisciplinary connections throughout campus. Proposals are evaluated by the Office of Sustainability and by the Sustainability Committee.

Who can apply?

Any UMD student, staff or faculty member may apply for Green Revolving Funds. Student applications require a faculty or departmental advisor, to help in managing fund appropriations.

How are proposals evaluated?

Awards are based on how the projects meet the Green Fund criteria and the current needs of the University. Applications are reviewed by both the UMD Sustainability Committee and UMD Facilities Management. An application should address one or more of the criteria below:grf

  • Fits within the mission and goals of the University of Minnesota and the UMD Strategic Plan
  • Pay back their costs within 10 years
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce energy use
  • Reduce water use
  • Reduce pollutants
  • Improve operations
  • Provide a positive impact for the local community
  • Support student learning
  • Support student engagement/awareness of sustainability-related issues

Ready to apply?

Click here to access the application to the Green Revolving using your UMD email.

Funded Projects

Solar Photovoltaics on Oakland Apartments  

The UMD SUN Delegation led an effort to increase solar electricity production at UMD.  Originally, the group designed a solar pavilion.  When construction was halted due to poor soils, the project was re-imagined to be flat-mounted solar on a south-facing roof of Oakland Apartments.  Money from the Green Revolving Fund was used in conjunction with $100,000 from a Student Service Fees, and matching funds from UMD Housing and Residence Life, to install this 43.2 kW solar array.  The additional solar energy has helped to reduce the University’s carbon emissions and reach goals outlined by the University’s Energy Action Plan.  The project visibly demonstrates UMD’s commitment to sustainability.

UMD adds solar panels to Oakland Apartments

Environmental Conditioning Unit Replacement at NRRI

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A precision air conditioning unit has been replaced in a mechanical testing room at NRRI. This room is used for a variety of mechanical destructive and non-destructive tests for both research and external sales clients and requires precise control of the room’s temperature and humidity. By replacing this almost 30-year-old unit, NRRI will be increasing the overall air quality and saving $2,290.07 per year through improved unit efficiency, decreased water consumption, and lower sewage requirements. In addition, nearly 22,000 kWh’s of electricity will be saved each year which is equivalent to reducing 15 metric tons of carbon dioxide or taking 3 passenger vehicles of the road.

Lighting and VFD retrofits

Many projects have included installing LED fixtures, one project consisting of the installation of 300 LED fixtures and the other consisting of 50 LED fixtures plus 7 variable frequency drives (VFD). Some LEDs have been installed in campus housing buildings and VFD and LED lighting upgrades took place in Rec Sports Gyms. VFD retrofits are scattered across campus and allow for more efficient control of motor speeds based on system requirements. With the energy savings from increased efficiency and rebates from Minnesota Power, both projects have incredible payback periods of less than 3 years.

Kathryn A. Martin Library LED Retrofit (Phase II)

LED's in libraryLED technology has allowed UMD to reduce carbon emissions due to the energy consumption of lamps in many areas of campus.  More recently, the Green Revolving Fund has allowed 300 lamp fixtures to be upgraded to LEDs.  Although this is still a work in progress, the results are already visible throughout the first two floors and in the main concourse.  LED technology greatly reduces energy consumption and reduces long-term maintenance costs. The new light sources also provide a higher-quality light that will improve aesthetics and may increase productivity.

Due to the high demand for lighting in a library setting, this project has an extremely fast payback time. Costs to illuminate the library are estimated to be $5,600 less per year with the new LEDs. This means that the upgrades will pay for themselves in less than three years and continue to save money even after that.

More Kathryn A. Martin Library Lighting Upgrades

The library continues to increase its energy efficiency by adding even more LED lighting with money from the Green Revolving Fund. This time 38 high bay light fixtures and 25 metal halide can fixtures were replaced with LED’s. Upgrading to LED’s will reduce the electricity needed to light the library by 35,101 kWh a year, reducing the building's corresponding carbon footprint. Electricity cost savings from this project are estimated at about $2,808 a year, and with a rebate from Minnesota Power, this project will pay for itself within the next five years. 

Marshall Performing Arts Center (MPAC) Theater LED Retrofit

MPAC TheaterThe Green Revolving Fund has funded two LED lighting retrofits that have occurred within the MPAC Theater. The Theater is the main stage for UMD plays, concerts, dance performances, and more. Both the high bay lights and the safety lights of the theater have been replaced with LED fixtures. Replacing the old inefficient lighting with highly efficient LEDs has reduced the buildings carbon emissions and cut energy costs by reducing energy consumption. It has also improved lighting quality and has reduced maintenance costs. Overall these upgrades will cut energy consumption by an estimated 11,391 kWh a year and reduce energy costs by about $910 a year. With rebates from Minnesota Power both projects will pay for themselves within the next six years.

Romano Gym LED Retrofit

The Romano Gym is used year round by UMD students, staff, faculty, and visitors. It hosts many large campus events such as volleyball and basketball games, team practices, and special events. With support from the Green Revolving Fund, 91 high bay lights of the gym were replaced with LED fixtures. Because      the gym is used year round this replacement will lead to a huge reduction in the electricity used to light the gym. In fact it will reduce electricity use by about 33,420 kWh a year. By doing so it will cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with lighting the gym by 24 metric tons a year, roughly equivalent to the yearly emissions of five cars! In addition it will also save in electricity costs ($2,674/yr), maintenance costs, improve lighting quality, and reduce wear on the gym floor from equipment needed to constantly replace the old inefficient lighting. 

Romano Gym

Kirby Ballroom LED Retrofit

The Kirby Ballroom is a commonly used area for various campus events year round. Different events require different types of lighting in terms of brightness and quality. With this Green Revolving Fund supported project, the Ballroom will now have better control over these lighting factors. Also, all existing light fixtures were replaced with highly efficient LEDs. This is estimated to reduce electricity demand by about 2.74 kW a year and save 9,685 kWh a year in consumption. Electricity costs associated with lighting the Kirby Ballroom will be cut down by roughly $774.8 a year. 

 Kirby Ballroom

Campus Heating Plant – Boiler Fan Control Upgrades

Variable frequency drives (VFDs) were installed to control the current boiler fan motors which handle the heating of the majority of campus. As the demands of the boiler adjust to the outside weather and other loading conditions, the amount of heat required changes. These fluctuations in loading directly affect the amount of air needed by the system, and the installation of this system increased the efficiency on both the electric and natural gas sides of the energy use.

This project has reduced plant gas and electrical consumption for the boiler system. The electrical system has a reduced usage of 135,523 kWhs per year, while the natural gas consumption was reduced by 30,664 therms per year. This reduced the overall carbon footprint of the campus as well as reduces the consumption of natural resources.

The electric cost savings are approximately $5,000 per year coupled with a rebate from Minnesota Power at $5,200, creating a payback time period of just under 6 years. This payback does not include the natural gas savings which account for an additional $20,000 in cost savings. These additional cost savings and rebates equate to an actual payback period of just 14 months.

Refrigerator Exchange Program

From 2011 until 2016, the Green Revolving Fund helped replace 36 old refrigerators, freezers, and chillers on campus. Through energy efficiency and consolidation, the replacement of equipment is estimated to save UMD over 38,000 kilowatt-hours worth of electricity annually, and over $2,700 each year in electricity costs.  More importantly, the savings from upgrading to more efficient equipment saves 29 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year!

VenDen Renovation

Students have long used the VenDen, located on the lower level of Bohannon Hall, as a space to relax between classes, do homework, visit with others, and have a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately, the facility had been ignored for many years and was outdated with a look and feel from the 1970’s. Partial funding from the Green Revolving Fund helped the VenDen update ventilation technology, energy efficient lighting, and new vending machines.

ven den lounge

Chem 200 Update

As the largest lecture hall on campus, Chem 200 requires a significant amount of energy to run properly. The air handling unit for this room used to run 24/7 but by installing direct digital controls (DDC) we are now able to better control and schedule occupied and unoccupied times. By reducing the time that the unit is running we are reducing energy usage, wear on the mechanical equipment, and the amount of steam and chilled water for regulating temperature.

Wind Turbine Installation

A multidisciplinary group of faculty, staff, and students from sustainability, biology, geography, and engineering departments worked together on a project to install a small 5-kilowatt wind turbine in the center of the SAP Farm along Riley Road. The high variability in wind speeds at the farm proved to be a challenge for the turbine. In the Spring of 2016, the original horizontal-axis turbine was brought down and replaced with a vertical-axis turbine that would better handle these gusty conditions. This innovative project has provided UMD and the Duluth community with a new research and learning opportunity for students, staff, faculty and community members.

REC Sports Gyms

gym lighting

During March 2017, two of the REC sports gyms got a facelift. Thirty-two inefficient light fixtures were replaced with new energy efficient LEDs. Before the fixtures used 400 watt bulbs for a total of 12,800 watts, now they use 150 watt bulbs reducing the total electricity usage to 4,800 watts. That’s electricity savings of 63%!

In addition to using more efficient bulbs, dimming and occupancy sensors were installed to save even more energy. In one gym, the lights will dim to 40% after 10 minutes and turn off completely after another three minutes. In the other gym, the lights dim to 40% after 10 minutes and stay dimmed. Facilities Management is doing a trial to determine which system people seem to like better.