Minnesota State Makes Dramatic Gains in Energy Efficiency

Posted: November 9, 2021

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@MinnState.edu, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 9, 2021 – Through strategic efficiency efforts, including energy efficiency improvements to facilities and improvements in space utilization, the colleges and universities of Minnesota State were able to achieve an average reduction of Energy Use Intensity of more than 19% per square foot between 2009 to 2020. Minnesota State operates 28.5 million square feet – the equivalent of 593 football fields – of classrooms, labs, offices, residence halls, athletic facilities, and more. 

“Minnesota State, and its Board of Trustees, are committed to principles of environmental sustainability in the operation of our campuses and their academic and student support programs,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “We are proud of the progress our colleges and universities have made to improve energy use efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to do even more to protect Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.” 

The reduction was achieved as a result of strategic efficiency efforts that have been ongoing since 2009. The strategies include the use of efficiency-related facilities planning guidelines, design and construction standards shaped by the Minnesota SB 2030 Energy Standard and B3 Guidelines, and energy conservation and procurement procedures that strive to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and provide long-term stewardship of campus and community resources. Examples of projects that applied these strategies include: 

  • Hagg-Sauer Hall at Bemidji State University, which was awarded the Government Construction Project of the Year by the Minnesota Construction Association, using B3 Guidelines in design to exceed typical energy performance standards.
  • The Powerline Technician Training Facility at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, which achieved significant overall operational savings through a renovation of the existing facility. Minnesota West was recently recognized with the Best of B3 award for year-over-year energy savings at its Jackson campus, realizing a 7% overall energy reduction. 

Another mechanism campuses have used to gain efficiency in operations is the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP), administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Since 2014, two colleges and one university covering 3 million square feet of building space have participated in the program, saving a combined $800,000 per year. Winona State University will soon implement GESP-related improvements, avoiding over 4,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent and saving $670,000 per year when fully installed.                                                                                                                         

Over 80% of Minnesota State campuses saw an overall reduction in Energy Use Intensity per square foot from 2009 to 2020. Minnesota State is now working towards goals set by Executive Order for Minnesota’s cabinet level government agencies to reduce overall Energy Use Intensity 30% by 2027 based on an adjusted 2017 baseline. 

Energy Use Intensity is a metric expressed as kBTU/sf/year that is used as an indicator of the energy efficiency of a building. In this analysis, data has been weather-normalized to the baseline year to remove variations due to weather. NOTE: Most data used in compiling the average system energy savings is based on actual campus utility bill data. In some cases, significant changes in campus meter profiles and changes in reporting strategy over time can present comparative data challenges.


Minnesota State includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 340,000 students. It is the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.