Carleton College is a small campus in Northfield Minnesota with big sustainability goals. The recent overhaul of the campus utility system will keep the college on track to reach its 2050 carbon neutrality goal while lowering its utility maintenance and operation costs.

In summer 2018, Carleton College began tearing up many of the grassy green spaces on campus to install 60 miles worth of geothermal piping beneath students’ feet as part of its Utility Master Plan (UMP). Transitioning from steam to a low-temperature (120ºF) hot water system was key to reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy efficiencies, and providing continued flexibility and cost savings into the future. The new system will allow Carleton to use heat pumps and ground source (geothermal) heating and cooling systems to repurpose and store extra heat energy that previously would have been exhausted. In this simultaneous heating and cooling mode, Carleton College will be able to meet 70% of its total heating and cooling needs on an annual basis. Hot water boilers and electric chillers will supplement the system on the hottest and coldest days of the year.

Over the course of this two-year project, Humbleweed Creative helped Carleton to tell its sustainability story and frame the disruptive activities as an important milestone for the campus to reach its carbon neutrality goals. Signs and banners were posted along the perimeter of the construction area to explain the purpose of the project, provide fun and impressive facts, and show how the project was a continuation of the college’s long history of sustainability efforts. Humbleweed also created a “toolkit” of charts, graphics, and technical illustrations for Carleton’s sustainability and facilities staff to deliver dozens of presentations and successful events that informed students, faculty, and the general public.

Read more about Carleton College’s new district energy system featured in the Winter 2019 issue of District Energy magazine.

See examples of infographics and technical illustrations that Humbleweed created for the Carleton UMP project in our portfolio.