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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

Working toward a more sustainable campus

The limestone buildings that define IU’s campus are a pristine sight from the outside. The way energy is used to keep these buildings running on the inside, however, is not as pretty.

Each year, it takes about 68,000 tons of coal, 3.4 million therms of natural gas and 771 million gallons of water and sewage to keep the buildings in working condition, according to the IUB Physical Plant. Many older buildings on campus are not built to current standards in terms of energy efficiency, which may be costing the University unnecessary money and resources.

In fiscal year 2008, IU spent about $14 million on electricity, $3.3 million on coal and $3.2 million on natural gas, said Charles Matson, certified energy manager of IU Engineering Services. Matson expects fiscal year 2009 figures to be different, reflecting the increased use of natural gas and decreased use of coal.

IU has been taking strides to increase energy efficiency for years. In 2007, two old boilers in the Central Heating Plant were replaced by new, high efficiency boilers. Also in 2007, the campus began a program in the academic buildings to replace incandescent light bulbs as they fail with compact fluorescent bulbs, Matson said.

The IU Office of Sustainability produced a 2007 report that analyzes ways IU could become more sustainable, and sponsored summer internship projects since then to encourage action on some of the sustainability measures. This year, there were three projects dealing specifically with upgrading IU buildings to better utilize energy.

Jeff Kaden, director of Engineering Services and member of the IU Sustainability Task Force, has brainstormed a list of potential remedies for wasted energy in IU buildings. He mentions everything from new windows to roofs, but it’s only wishful thinking until the University finds funding.

“The state hasn’t given us repair and rehabilitation money for the last decade,” he said. “The buildings are the most important thing in terms of energy efficiency.”

Kaden often hears that IU uses too much coal to power its buildings, but says that the availability of coal makes it a more viable resource than others.

“We have a 500-year supply of coal just 40 miles from campus,” he said.

Kaden said that there are 11 buildings on campus that are seeking LEED certification, a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes environmentally sustainable construction. Today, none of IU’s buildings are LEED certified.

For Steve Akers, the associate director for Environmental Operations at RPS, the solution to energy waste is in the occupants of the buildings instead of the building material itself. Akers is also a member of the Sustainability Task Force and has sponsored an energy challenge across all dorms on campus for the last two years. The challenge rewards the dorm that conserves the most energy.

“We saw a lot of interesting student behavioral changes with the energy challenge, and it has helped us at RPS update our metering system as well,” Akers said.

As a result of the energy challenge, which is set to run again this spring, IU dorms have become more energy friendly. Low-flow shower heads and sinks have been installed, and almost all of the lighting in the dorms has been switched to compact fluorescent bulbs. The dorms are even using 100 percent recycled toilet paper.

The City of Bloomington is also taking strides to improve buildings to increase energy efficiency. The city will receive $745,000 from the federal government to retrofit buildings with energy efficient technologies, as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

The buildings that will be updated include City Hall – Showers Building, the Traffic Division facility, Fire Department Headquarters and Bloomington SportsPlex.

IU may be taking action to reduce energy waste, but the changes are slow and the list of needs is long. The old buildings that look so immaculate are using energy at an unsustainable rate. Kaden stresses that older buildings are where the most changes are needed.

“Our design guidelines have been in place for 15 years, and since then we have always had an eye for energy reduction,” Kaden said. “But if you look at the buildings built before 1980, there are some problems.”

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