For the University of North Dakota (UND), providing a comfortable environment for students and staff during even the coldest winters is crucial. And, after 65 years, the university’s coal-powered steam plant was no longer up to the task, requiring specially-made new parts to remain functional. Even still, it suffered breakdowns that increased in frequency within the past few years. Because of this, UND was ready to innovate and invest in clean energy solutions.

Through a partnership with Johnson Controls, UND has unveiled a new central utility plant designed to improve the student experience. This project was enabled through a 40-year-old public-private partnership, or P3, that UND established to improve operations. 



To provide a better student experience in the central quad, the new utility plant was built in a different location and will help transform the way energy is delivered around campus. The project is expected to deliver more than $1 million dollars per year in energy savings, provide resiliency for UND’s infrastructure, and reduce the carbon footprint.

Annually, this project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 metric tons of CO2, which is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 74 square miles of forest (essentially the size of Grand Forks and Fargo combined). The project will also reduce landfill waste by 3,200 metric tons of ash.
The $75 million facility, which was introduced as a cornerstone of the entire university system, was unveiled via a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 14. The project received the 2020 Sustainability Innovation Award from APPA at the event.