Energy Consumption on Campus

Most campus buildings are served by central heating and cooling plants. The boiler plant generates steam from the combustion of natural gas and delivers it throughout campus for heating, domestic hot water, and dehumidification purposes. The chiller plant delivers chilled water throughout campus for air conditioning purposes. In FY2011, the campus consumed 1.6 million therms of natural gas and 22.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity. 

Renewable Energy on Campus


The campus currently has three geothermal systems in place at CERA, the Natatorium, and the Preschool. The CERA installation was the first campus geothermal system and utilized wells deep underneath the parking lot to heat and cool the Environmental Education Center. The second and largest geothermal installation was for the natatorium (indoor pool building). Geothermal wells are used to heat and cool the natatorium building. Facilities Management is currently looking into the possibility of incorporating a geothermal system in the the central steam and chilled water systems. 


Grinnell College's interest in wind turbines began as a class project by Mia Devine in 1996. Following Mia’s efforts, a wind feasibility committee was created and the college began to earnestly look into the possibility of utilizing wind power. These early efforts yielded the installation of a 50 kw wind turbine at CERA in January of 2007. Studies continued to look at the feasibility of a much larger installation to provide renewable power directly to campus. In February, 2012, the board of trustees approved such an installation pending financing. After much planning and study, the wind project was tabled due mainly to some policy constraints and complications due to another wind turbine project feeding the same electrical substation.

Solar Hot Water

A solar hot water system was installed on Ecohouse during the summer of 2010.

Solar PV

The college currently has three solar installations. A 20kw system was installed on the Facilities Management offices in 2014. A 3 kw system was installed during the construction of the preschool, and lastly a very small system is in place at CERA to power the parking lot bollards.

FY 2014 Emissions

Grinnell has a net emission of 28,775.3 metric tons of CO2. Here's how our emissions break down:

 Grinnell's emissions: 53% purchased electricity, 6% faculty/staff commuting, 5% air travel, 3% solid waste, 3% transmission loss, 28% other campus stationary