Energy Conservation & Efficiency

“Fortunately, the campus community understands that the burning of fossil fuels is impacting climate in unprecedented ways, that fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource, and that we must develop a long-term approach to responsible climate behavior.”

– Erika Bailey-Johnson (Strategic Plan)

Energy Conservation Facilities Team

Since 2017, a team of Bemidji State stakeholders led by Director of Facilities Travis Barnes has worked with Otter Tail Power Company on a broad variety of energy conservation projects.  To date, these projects have helped the campus reduce its energy consumption by nearly 6 percent and reduce its average monthly energy bill by nearly 7 percent.

Many of these projects have involved conversions of campus light sources to LEDs. BSU has installed more than 12,000 four-foot LED lights in the first two years of the program, converting nearly 40 percent of campus interior lighting to LED. And a $182,000 project to replace lighting in BSU’s Gillett Wellness Center on its own will save the university more than $34,000 in annual energy costs and reduce energy usage by more than 400,000 kilowatts per year.

In addition to the energy and cost savings, Otter Tail presented Bemidji State with an energy efficiency rebate of more than $320,000 in early 2020.  These dollars will be reinvested in additional energy-efficiency projects across campus.

Energy-Saving Competitions

The Sustainability Office is involved in a few competitions throughout the year to motivate students, faculty and staff to reduce energy on campus. Do It in the Dark (DIITD) is an energy saving competition between all of the residence halls on campus sponsored by Students for the Environment.

DIITD is usually scheduled for the month of February and includes many strategies to educate students on reducing consumption. The residence hall that reduces the most per capita has a celebration thrown in their honor where they are presented with the traveling trophy and awarded many fabulous prizes!

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall renovations started in the Fall of 2014 and were completed the following October. The renovations achieved LEED Silver Certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design.

Laurel House

The Laurel House was rebuilt in 2015 primarily by students in NTC’s trades and construction programs.  The house serves as a residence for students in the Honors Program, and is a living-learning environment that demonstrates reduced utility usage.

The rebuild project demonstrates how to implement affordable and sustainable practices that reduce impacts on the environment. Examples of these practices include:

  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIP panels consist of insulating foam core sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board manufactured to reduce construction waste and create a superior building envelope that uses less energy to heat and cool)
  • Energy Efficient Windows (u-factor less than 0.24)
  • Water Conserving Technologies (toilets, faucets and shower heads that conserve water. Rain barrels that catch rain water for irrigation)
  • Resource Efficient Landscaping (vegetation that requires little water or maintenance, water permeable hard surfaces, rain garden to reduce runoff)
  • Local Resources (use of materials that are local, to reduce transportation and help local economies)
  • Low or No VOCs (use of paint, flooring, and other finishes that emit no or minimal VOCs)

Solar Transpired Air

In the fall of 2013, Bemidji State University had its first Solar Transpired Air installation on campus! Solar Transpired Air is black metal cladding with holes that is attached over the fresh air intake vent on the Lower Union. Cold fresh air goes through the holes and is heating from the suns rays before going into the heating system. The efficient technology reduces BSU’s dependence on fossil fuels to heat our buildings.

Schools Cutting Carbon Grant

Bemidji State received the Schools Cutting Carbon Grant in December of 2009. With the money from the grant, along with other donations, BSU retrofitted the light fixtures in the John Glas Fieldhouse gym, the Bangsberg theater and the faculty building.