by Patrick Kitchens
Indiana University is regarded as an elite international educational institution. However in 2007 IU received a D+ by the Sustainable Endowments Institute published in their annual College Sustainability Report Card. Should the university be sent to bed without any supper…Maybe a little harsh. In reply the university created the Sustainability Task Force, appointed by Vice President Terry Clapacs, which developed a framework for campus sustainability that was released January 2008. Areas of focus include: academic initiatives, energy, environmental quality/land use, resource use/recycling, transportation, built environment, and food.
The Report Card is the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments. It assesses the 200 public and private universities with the largest endowments, ranging from $230 million to nearly $35 billion. The Report Card is based on several criteria as follows: Administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priority, and shareholder engagement. In 2008, primarily due to the formation of the faculty/student led Sustainability Task Force, Indiana University received a C from the College Sustainability Report Card. Unfortunately IU still ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten in campus sustainability tied with its in-state rival Purdue. In this article I will examine the steps IU is taking towards bettering climate change and energy impacts on campus and make several recommendations.
Benton County is a rural place of 9,000 residents in Northern Indiana sandwiched between the Illinois border and Tippecanoe County (Lafayette). The make up is primarily cornfields and farmhouses. In the colder months this terrain allows northern winds to sweep the landscape. Enough so that a major energy company from California has decided to build Indiana’s first commercial sized wind farm on these flat fields.
On December 18th, 2007 the United States House of Representatives passed the 2007 Energy Bill on a vote of 314 to 100. Many were elated to see energy updates that hadn’t been addressed by congress since 1975. Others believe that a greater opportunity was avoided in a time of environmental urgency.
Spanning 2001-2004 the United States manufacturing sector lost more than 2.5 million jobs. Currently the wind industry in the U.S. grows 25-30 percent annually. This growth rate can sustain, or increase, due to the prevalent demand for clean domestic renewable energy sources. This demand will influence a reaction from the manufacturing and service industries, consequentially creating jobs.
A few years ago Bloomington residents noticed a lot of “soy bio-diesel” advertisements plastered on the side of city buses. It made me feel good, for many reasons, to live in Bloomington. Knowing that the community and local government demonstrate social energy progression is comforting to me. Those reassuring ads are long gone. Now that comfort has become even plusher, with the edition of hybrid buses to the fleet of Bloomington Public Transportation.
EverGreen Village is a 12 unit subdivision nestled into the Rockport Hills neighborhood just off of Rockport Road on the south side of Bloomington. The project is being developed by the City of Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development Department (HAND) as a green-built, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) pilot project. LEED is a branch off of the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED green building rating system is “the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings”. The homes at EverGreen will be built using LEED standards and requirements to insure sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.