Green Campuses

Iowa College Implements Ambitious Energy Conservation Program

Luther College, an undergraduate institution in Decorah, IA, has launched a comprehensive new program aimed at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, as well as reducing overall energy consumption.

Developed in conjunction with engineering firm Sebesta Blomberg, with funding from the Rocky Mountain Institute, the program's energy efficiency goals include a 3 percent per year overall reduction in use through investment in more energy-efficient equipment and an additional 2 percent per year through energy awareness education.

"The really unique part of Luther's plan is the focus on energy reduction through culture change. We hope to achieve a two percent reduction through education," said Maren Stumme-Diers, Luther's assistant sustainability coordinator. "I don't know of any other schools that have set this type of goal. Most schools focus on conservation through improvements in energy efficiency technology."

In addition to the program's overall goals, the college has set forth several short-term goals it plans to achieve by December 2010, including:

  • Installing a system that allows the college to track real-time energy use and communicate that information on campus to the college community;
  • Launching a targeted educational campaign that focuses on one main topic per semester;
  • Completing the installation of additional meters to monitor the consumption of electricity, steam heat, and water in all major campus buildings;
  • Developing a team of students to foster the implementation of energy conserving measures on campus; and
  • Ensuring campus-wide participation and commitment to energy conservation.

The college said the energy conservation grew out of a series of meetings and an online survey, both conducted last fall, in which students, faculty, staff, and other college stakeholders expressed concern about the school's environmental footprint.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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