As stewards for some of the University of Minnesota's biggest opportunities for operational sustainability (energy management, waste collection, building & grounds), Facilities Management (FM) is committed to maintaining the U's facilities and outdoor spaces sustainably. Below is a list of sustainable initiatives within FM. Click on an area of interest for more detail. For more information about operational sustainability initiatives, visit the It All Adds Up conservation campaign's website.


  • Recommissioning - Most buildings use more energy than necessary to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the occupants. Simple, low cost measures can reduce energy consumption while maintaining or improving the performance of the facility. A typical recommissioning study will yield between 5% and 15%
    energy savings, depending on the type of building. The U of M recommissioning team takes things a step further by finding ways that new technology or different operating methods can further improve efficiency and performance, like recommending that old lighting systems be replaced with newer technology.

  • Emissions Reductions - Coming Soon

  • Air-dried Cooling Coils - Coming Soon

  • District Cooling - Energy Management has renewed efforts since 2000 to meet goals set in 1988 to connect all Twin Cities Campus buildings to district cooling, which reduces maintenance and energy costs through increased equipment and maintenance efficiency. The university currently saves approximately $2.2 million in chiller plant maintenance costs and stands to save another $480,000 each year by converting the remaining stand-alone units to chiller plants.

  • Storm Water Management - Coming Soon

  • Water Usage - Coming Soon

  • Solar Arrays - The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities completed installation of a 38.4 kilowatt solar array on the roof of the University Office Plaza Building (2221 University Avenue) in March 2012. The campus’s second solar array will help reduce CO2 emissions, provide research opportunities and promote clean energy technology, research and development. It is expected to generate 3.8% of the building’s electricity (approximately 45,800 kilowatt hours per year) and reduce emissions by 38 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

  • Energy Showcases - Energy Management hosts Energy Showcase events prior to select building recommissioning project. These two-hour Open House-style information fairs are an opportunity to meet building occupants face-to-face and explain the recommissioning process.

  • Energy Dashboards - Energy Management provides students, faculty and staff opportunities to monitor resources being used in their facilities. The energy dashboards linked from this page allow occupants to view the amount of electricity, steam and chilled water being consumed in their building. Some buildings share resources, so not every utility will be displayed for each building.

  • Building Energy Report Card - The Building Energy Report Card (PDF) provides a meaningful ranking of each building's energy performance using a common unit of measure (KBTU [thousands  of British Thermal Units] / GSF [Gross Square Feet]) for energy consumption of electricity, steam and chilled water efficiency, and comparing it to benchmarks created by using the state of Minnesota B3 benchmarking tool.


  • Recycling - A nationally recognized pioneer in institutional recycling, the U of M recycling program processes approximately 3,800 tons of recyclable material annually, or 41% of the University’s municipal solid waste stream. There are nearly 5,000 color-coded recycling containers that make recycling and convenient across campus. FM’s long-term goal is to bring the amount of materials recovered by recycling up to 50% of the school’s waste stream.

  • Reuse - The University of Minnesota ReUse Program collects surplus office furniture, supplies, equipment and parts from throughout the Twin Cities Campus and makes them available to University departments or individuals for purchase. Some of the services the Reuse program performs are as follows ...

    • RELIEVES 250 University buildings of unwanted materials, fixtures and supplies.\

    • REDISTRIBUTES furniture & equipment valued at over $200,000 to U of M departments each year.

    • RESELLS a never-ending variety of items to the general public each Thursday.

    • RECYCLES unwanted steel, aluminum, wood, cardboard & paper.

    • REDUCES campus construction waste that would otherwise end up at the landfill.

  • Composting - A quarter of the waste generated at the U is organic, and eligible for composting. In comparison with waste disposal, which costs the University of Minnesota about $130/ton to dispose, composting is a mere $40/ton. Hold a zero waste event! Our staff is more than happy to provide your group with organic collection barrels for events of all kinds. Please see special event collections for more information.


  • Anti-Icing - During winter snow removal operations we implement an anti-icing program.  We apply a liquid anti-icing product prior to a forecasted storm to prevent the bonding of compacted snow to hard surfaces.  This facilitates removal by mechanical means rather than using de-icing chemicals to melt the frozen precipitation.  This program minimizes the need to apply sand and additional chemicals to slippery surfaces, yet still provides a safe surface for traffic.  The end result is less sand and chemicals entering the storm sewers.

  • Native Species - Urban environments are not native environments; they have been disturbed and require evaluation to choose the right plant(s) for the site.  We have been and continue to incorporate native plant material when designing landscapes.

  • Irrigation System Meters - irrigation systems are now run by a computerized central controller that is tied into two weather stations (one on Minneapolis and one on St. Paul). If we get a ¼” it will set a two day delay. 

  • Tree Database - Coming Soon

  • Composting - All of the yard waste and the refuse collected from the campus greenhouses are composted.  This compost is then used around campus as mulch in annual and perennial beds to control the weed-seed germination, conserve water, moderate soil temperature extremes, and reduce the compaction effects of heavy rains.  It is also mixed with other material to create a “Campus Soil Mix” which is used to make plant beds.  Composting keeps this waste out of the waste stream and incorporates it back into the environment. 

Custodial / Purchasing

  • MERB - The Material and Equipment Review Board (MERB) is a cross-functional committee that includes representatives from each Facilities Management (FM) District, Environmental Health and Safety, Risk Management, Business Application Support, UStores and FM Purchasing. The purpose of the group is to improve the safety, health and functionality for Facilities Management’s work force. FM initiated the committee to centralize purchasing of supplies and reduce the number of different products used by employees. The goal is to optimize supply management, enhance employee safety and promote environmental friendliness throughout the product selection process.

  • Green Team Cleaning - FM's Green Team Cleaning system makes the U healthier, safer, “greener” and more cost effective. The program’s new equipment, like microfiber products and backpack vacuums, allow the custodial staff to clean more efficiently, improve air quality and save money.

Central Services

  • Reduced Idling Time and more Efficient Routes - Coming Soon



It all adds up logo

For more information about U of M operational sustainability initiatives, visit the It All Adds Up conservation campaign's website.