Advancing Climate Adaptation in MN’s Colleges and Universities

Climate change is already occurring in Minnesota and is affecting our state’s environmental, economic and social systems. There is a need for higher educational institutions to increase their involvement in addressing these emerging climate-related challenges.

While many campuses have put in place plans to mitigate climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, plans for climate adaptation are less common. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency worked with a team of college and university representatives to develop this workshop to further build climate adaptation leadership on Minnesota campuses. The event was held on January 31st, 2017 at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.

College and university faculty, staff and students were invited to join us for this interactive program. Goals of the workshop were to illustrate how higher educational institutions can recognize the impacts of climate change, develop adaptation strategies, and prioritize resilient solutions in Minnesota. The event showcased case studies as emerging examples and included time for active discussion about how campuses can lead by example in their climate adaptation efforts.

Registration and costs for this full day workshop were provided by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Space was designated specifically for those directly affiliated with Minnesota Colleges and Universities.

Agenda for January 31 climate adaptation workshop

Paul Moss Welcome Presentation

Kenny Blumenfeld Introduction Presentation

Case Studies presented by:

Gary Johnson, Professor/Extension Professor of Urban and Community Forestry, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus takes climate change seriously by setting examples of adaptation strategies. These strategies range from incorporating engineered soils that act as stormwater run-off collectors yet promote healthier and longer-lived tree canopy, the introduction of new climate adaptive tree species to the campus, and converting traditional high maintenance landscapes to those that are more sustainable and tolerant of climate stresses. UMN Twin Cities Presentation 01 31 17

Erika Bailey-Johnson, Sustainability Director and People and the Environment Coordinator, Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College

Bemidji State University has a unique sustainability model that includes a wellness component. Learn how their model connects the campus and community to climate adaptation projects and programs. Bemidji State Presentation 01 31 17

Troy Goodnough, Sustainability Director in the Office of Sustainability and Kelly Asche, Program Coordinator in the Center for Small Towns, University of Minnesota Morris

For the past three years, the University of Minnesota, Morris has worked with city, county, local, and statewide partners to grow our community resilience efforts. As a charter signatory of the Second Nature Climate Resilience Commitment, we are committed to campus-community resilience planning and action. Our public engagement work is deeply engaged in growing student leadership. We will discuss several complementary initiatives that support these efforts. Our work was recognized with Environmental Initiative’s Award for Community Action in 2015. Morris Presentation 01 31 17

Martha Larson, Manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability, Carleton College

In 1910, Carleton College created a centralizes district energy plant to provide heat, water, and electricity to all campus buildings. Over 100 years later, the College is now planning another major utility transition to update aging plant equipment and distributions systems, support the campus master plan, increase resilience, and accelerate Climate Action Plan progress. Transitioning the heating distribution system from steam to how water and incorporating a variety of energy technologies- geothermal, solar thermal, combined heat and power (CHP), wind turbines, heat pumps and high efficiency condensing boilers- will significantly reduce Carleton’s carbon footprint and provide much greater flexibility for future generations. Carleton Presentation 01 31 17

Breakout Sessions:

Attendees participated in six breakout sessions to discuss the following topics in more depth. Please note-These notes compiled from volunteers during the sessions to help bring out key points discussed.

Additional Resources:

Networking Directory to be added to the directory, please download this form and send to

Climate Adaptation Resources

Second Nature Resilience Commitment

High Education Climate Adaptation Initiative Share Google Folder  Please, click on the link to access the folder. After your request is approved — you will be able to create and access all of the folders. [Note: everyone who has access to the folder will be given equal read-write permission — so please do not modify files or folders that you did not create.]  If you have any questions about the shared Google Drive folder, contact Troy Goodnough at University of Minnesota, Morris: