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Ambitious plan calls for MSUM to go carbon neutral, reduce campus footprint

A comprehensive facilities plan was unveiled for Minnesota State University Moorhead that promises ambitious targets that "will make you sweat to get it done."

About a dozen people stand around a table laid with a blueprint while a m an in front of several posters presents to htem.
Patrick Thibaudeau, JLG Architects sustainability officer, speaks to an audience of more than 50 people at Minnesota State University Moorhead on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 about a comprehensive facilities plan.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — A long range, “ambitious” comprehensive facilities plan for Minnesota State University Moorhead was unveiled Tuesday, Nov. 1, promising carbon neutrality, financial prosperity and the “technology of tomorrow.”

Patrick Thibaudeau, sustainability officer at JLG Architects, spoke about the proposed changes to a group of more than 50 people at the Comstock Memorial Union Sun Garden Lounge.

Saying it was the “right time to think big,” Thibaudeau said that according to the plan the campus will generate its own electricity and heating, reduce building areas, sell off some land, become carbon neutral and provide a positive learning environment on campus.

“What you see in front of you is a planning tool we use to envision the future,” Thibaudeau said, adding that architects tried tried to epitomize a “culture of connecting people to each other” and “honor the heritage of what is here, while preparing for the technology of tomorrow.”

Final MSUM campus plan as proposed by JLG Architects to the university on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022..png
Final MSUM campus plan as proposed by JLG Architects to the university on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.
Special to The Forum

Although enrollment is decreasing at MSUM and across the nation, “We wanted to understand that and make sure the plan reflected the actual situation,” Thibaudeau said.

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“More people are wanting part-time learning opportunities, and those considerations are part of the plan,” he said.

The facilities plan is updated every five years, and this version took a year to put on paper, Thibaudeau said.

“We set some ambitious targets," he said. "We can say that this plan is achievable, but it will make you sweat a little to get it done."

About a dozen people look at a large blueprint while one man gestures to the center of it.
Attendees make observations about Minnesota State University Moorhead's comprehensive facilities plan on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

The plan includes gaining $1.3 million in potential funds from the sale of land north of Sixth Street and creating more prairie vegetation on campus.

The plan would lower operating costs by about $6.6 million, reduce campus land space by 10% and defer maintenance costs by $155 million, Thibaudeau said.

Additionally, more than 8,000 tons of carbon emissions would be avoided each year, he said.

According to the company’s planning tool, which was laid out on a long table, some buildings marked in red on campus would be torn down. Among those were Nemzek Hall, Murray Hall, King Hall, Owens Hall and Nelson Hall.

Buildings marked in yellow needed a face-lift, and the buildings in green would remain as-is.

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“I am very excited to implement the updated comprehensive facilities plan for our university, and I appreciate all of the time and effort that has gone into the process from our steering committee and many others,” said Brenda Norris, MSUM executive director of facilities management and steering committee.

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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