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Public gives input about energy plan


By Michelle Sokol

The public was invited to provide feedback on the Integrated Energy Master Plan on Monday before recommendations are taken to the IU Board of Trustees for approval next month.

Jerry Williams, senior vice president of 8760 Engineering, the consulting firm that prepared the plan, presented the key points to about 100 community members.

Implement energy conservation projects
“All of the other efforts hinge on reducing the loads,” Williams said. “The building energy consumption is the most important target for this plan.”

The plan makes recommendations for implementation that may require physical modifications.

Repair campus utility systems
“The processing of metering individual buildings is extremely important,” Williams said. “This is vital information to see how they compare to their brothers and sisters, but more importantly, to see when something is wrong. Until we see the metering and what the consumption is, it’s often not obvious at all.”

Bill Brown, director of sustainability at IU, said the University has an advantage because it is fully metered.

“We’ve learned through the energy challenge that people do respond when they get information, when they get feedback,” he said.

Prepare to stop burning coal
“What we know is that the boilers that create the energy are getting old, we know we can’t replace them,” Williams said. “They simply cost more than we have available. And we think we’re going to move toward a natural gas operation, we’ve already moved that way.”

He said it would be important to keep coal as a back up and to retain flexibility for the time being.

Design more efficiently
Williams said IU should be looking toward renewable energy, but it is often hard to justify in economic terms.

“But buildings should have a renewable component,” he said. “It helps to learn about it and how to use it, and more importantly to learn what the costs are.”

Energy conservation through involvement of campus community

“You already have a very good campus in terms of sustainability interns, your energy challenge, your green teams,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of things going on here that are very supportive of this culture, but you have to continue it and reinforce it as much as you can.”

Following the presentation, Brown, Williams and IU Engineer Jeff Kaden answered the public’s questions.

Some questioned why geothermal technology or micro grids were not more incorporated in the plan, and a few brought up concerns with hydraulic fracturing for natural gas — claiming the method poisons water sources and harms populations.

“You’re going to be taking advantage of people who no longer have drinkable water,” junior Nick Greven said. “My question is, ‘Is this a joke?’”

Coal Free IU was the last group to address the panel, and a few members took turns reading their concerns with the plan.

“The proposal does not go far enough to end coal use on campus or advocate for renewable energy,” one member said. “It does not hold the University accountable for recommendations. We want to commend the administration for taking an important step, but we need to go further. We need commitment.”

Jerry Williams discusses the new master energy plan for Indiana University Bloomington on Monday at the Whittenberger Auditorium. Williams is the Senior Vice President of 8760 Engineering. Catharine Dahm Buy Photos

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