UI working toward ‘greener’ campus

By Eric Heisig

The University is trying to do its part for the environment and campus will be going green gradually in the coming years.

With the University of Illinois Board of Trustees’ passing of the proposed energy policy on Nov. 14, plans are set to help make campus buildings more green, or environmentally friendly.

Linda Katehi, provost and vice chancellor for the Office of Academic Affairs, said the program will deal with campus on an ad-hoc or building-by-building basis, starting with the College of Business Instructional Facility, at the corner of Sixth Street and Gregory Drive.

“There is not one solution for energy sustainability,” Katehi said. “We have to do different things to different buildings.”

The new Business building will have solar panels on it to reduce energy consumption and its grand opening will be in Fall 2008, Katehi said.

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After the Business building is completed, the University will move on to other buildings, with the intention of making every building on campus as green as possible.

“Whenever we try to renovate, we are responsible for preserving our visual identity on campus,” Katehi said.

The renovations, along with the entire energy policy, are designed to cut energy consumption by 10 percent in the first year and 40 percent overall, Katehi said.

There are meters placed in the majority of buildings that track the amount of energy each building uses, including the amount of electricity, steam, and hot and cold water.

During the Board of Trustees meeting, University President B. Joseph White suggested a program to change all incandescent bulbs to fluorescent and LED bulbs on campus in order to save energy. Katehi said the University is trying to work on the program.

“We are looking to make an early investment, to make the money back later with the saved energy,” Katehi said.

The University may also install motion sensors in classrooms, so lights will not be in use if no one is present.

Still, a big part of conserving energy on campus is going to lie in personal responsibility of the faculty and staff members working in the buildings, Katehi said. A lot of energy can be saved by reducing the use of space heaters, turning off lights when no one is in a room and turning off computers and research equipment when they are not needed.

White has expressed his support for the new policy.

“(The University of Illinois is) an institution that has 70,000 young people that don’t only learn in the classroom,” White said at the Board of Trustees meeting. “I welcome the energy policy.”