Renewable Energy and Compost

Wind Energy

There are two wind turbines in Morris, both located at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC). The turbines are both 1.65 MW turbines, providing energy to the Morris Campus and WCROC.


The turbines provide an alternatives to emissions-based energy sources saving over 12,322 tons of carbon dioxide, 44 tons of nitrous oxides, and 78 tons of sulfer dioxide per turbine per day on peak days.

Fun fact: Morris was the first U.S. public uiversity to have a large-scale wind research turbine constructed. The turbines provide energy to over half of the buildings on campus, and the first turbine began generating power in March of 2005.


Solar Energy

Located at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) are two types of solar thermal technologies: The flat-plate solar thermal system, which is used to heat water, and the evacuated tube thermal system, used to provide air conditioning.

Located at both the Regional Fitness Center and Green Prairie Community are two separate 32 flat-plate panel systems heating the three pools at the fitness center and providing energy for heating and cooling to the Green Prairie residents.

In addition to these two systems, there are two 3KW solar panels located behind the science building on the UMM campus, one of which tracks the sun while the other is stationary.


Biomass Gasification

The Biomass Gasification Plant was approved for construction in 2005 and its main goal was to provide 80% of the campus cooling and heating needs, working towards UMM's goal of self-sufficiency by 2010.

The process converts biomass (most often agricultural residue; wheat straw, wood waste, etc.) into "producer gas" that can be burned to yield a high amount of energy that can be used for fuel, direct heating and the production of methanol. The char and ash can be used as fertilizer.



Food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, food-soiled paper and cardboard (napkins, paper wrappers, paper cups and plates, wooden stir sticks) are all considerred compostable, as well as items marked with a number 7 recyclable classification.

Over 1 million pounds of organics have been reclaimed since composting at UMN Morris began. The success of organics collection at the Morris Campus have spurred the City of Morris and Stevens County to begin a residential composting program with many local businesses participating too. Organic waste is now being brought to the new Glacial Ridge Organics Recycling center. 

The dining hall at UMM is zero waste, meaning that all items of wast produced by the students such as food, packaging, and napkins are all composted. The Turtle Mountain Cafe also practices composting in its facility, and all of the take out containers as well as cups and straws are compostable. Everything from the coffee shop, Higbies, is also compostable, except for the coffee container lids, which are currently in the process of being converted to a compostable lid.

2012 Guide to Composting at UMM
UM Composting Program Poster 

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for a complete list of UMM's Sustainable Initiatives