Indiana Daily Student

IU lowers direct emissions by 49%, plans to implement solar technology

<p>Vice President of Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison discusses IU&#x27;s sustainability initiatives Feb. 18 in Presidents Hall. The presentation was part of the Bloomington Faculty Council meeting.</p>

Vice President of Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison discusses IU's sustainability initiatives Feb. 18 in Presidents Hall. The presentation was part of the Bloomington Faculty Council meeting.

After a Bloomington Faculty Council member asked the rest of the council how the university was handling coronavirus and was met with a short response from Provost Lauren Robel, the council moved on to its agenda items. At its Tuesday afternoon meeting in Presidents Hall, the council discussed a sustainability report, updates to IU Libraries and a possible change to a committee name.

Sustainability report

The report detailed various efforts to be more environmentally conscious in the university’s usage and consumption of electricity. The council introduced the first half of this report at the Jan. 21 meeting.

Tom Morrison, vice president for IU’s Capital Planning and Facilities department, said one of IU's top priorities is to construct or alter buildings to be more environmentally friendly and to lower the university’s carbon footprint.

IU plans to save about $157,000 through its initiative to convert more than 2,100 campus lights to LED lights, according to the report. It will also save about 66% of energy annually. Only about 40% of campus lights have been converted so far, but the university projects 80% will be converted by the end of 2020 and the rest by the end of 2021.

IU also plans to implement solar energy production in a series of five installations. Morrison said this will help ween the university off of nonrenewable energy sources. This will produce an average annual savings of $5,900. 

“We will look to use it to offset peak demand when electricity demand is higher,” Morrison said. “The problem is during the winter months, our ability to capture sun’s rays is not as efficient as it should be.”

The university also saw a decrease in overall emissions in the last decade but wants sustainability efforts to continue, Morrison said.

Morrison said the problem is not IU’s ability to cut down the energy usage and consumption it produces, but rather the remaining energy IU must purchase from outside sources. IU purchases remaining necessary energy from Duke Energy Corporation, which uses coal to fuel energy production.

According to the report, scope one emissions, or direct emissions the university owns or controls, are down 49% since 2010. However, scope two emissions, emissions the university doesn’t own nor control, are down only 7%.

Lastly, the report highlighted IU’s dedication to LEED certifications and initiatives.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a green building certification program used across the country. According to the report, LEED’s rating system evaluates buildings for their performance in seven categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and regional priority credits.

The university dedicated its updates to maintaining at least a silver standard with 50-59 points but reached a gold standard of 60-79 points in its efforts. There is one level higher than gold, and it requires 80 or more points, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“As we’re shooting for silver, we’re getting gold,” he said. “Gold is now our standard.”

Morrison said IU has the most LEED-certified buildings of all Big Ten schools.

Morrison said even though some sustainability goals are unrealistic due to cost, his ultimate goal is to get the university to a state of carbon neutrality, meaning not producing more carbon emissions than can be removed naturally.

Updates from IU Libraries

Carolyn Walters, dean of university libraries, presented updates to the council regarding journal licensing and planning for the future of Herman B Wells Library’s collections. 

IU’s deal with Elsevier, a Dutch publishing company specializing in science, technology and health is up for renewal this year, Walter said. According to her presentation, the publisher provides access to more than 7,000 journals for fields such as computer science, mathematics and chemistry.

IU Libraries will form a negotiation team including faculty representatives to work on the deal, according to Walter's presentation. She said the council needs to consider that journals are becoming more expensive, print materials are being used less and there’s a push for open access to journal articles.

Robel said Elsevier often requires universities to buy what it doesn’t want in order for the university to get access to what it does want. She asked council members whether schools in the Big Ten Conference would be able to negotiate as a group to get a better deal.

“We may need a larger faculty conversation to happen on this issue,” J Duncan, co-chair of the Educational Policies Committee said.

IU Libraries is also continuing planning for Wells Library’s materials. Walter said re:Work, a consulting firm, will conduct focus groups and interviews with faculty, students and campus administrators this spring to get feedback. This will help IU Libraries understand how people use the library’s collections and what resources are important for them to have.

Updating a committee name

The BFC voted to move an update to the bylaws to a second reading. If approved, this update will rename the Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Committee co-chair Selene Carter, co-chair of the committee, said this change is necessary to be more compliant with initiatives across the university. She said using the words "diversity," "equity" and "inclusion" are more comprehensive than the term "affirmative action.".

“This is a formality, and I realize that a name change will in no way enhance our efforts towards more diversity, equity and inclusion,” Carter said. “However, it seemed relevant to update our title to be more contemporary in the nomenclature and to align with the other offices and initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Peter Talbot contributed reporting to this story.

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