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U. of I. group seeking ideas
to improve energy efficiency on campus
Forrest, News Editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
Got a bright idea for a clean-energy project? The Energy Subcommittee
of the Committee on a Sustainable Campus Environment wants to hear it.
The subcommittee is requesting proposals on projects or programs that would provide the campus with new clean
energy sources or help the campus reduce its energy consumption and
Anyone – including students, faculty or staff members and businesses
– may submit a letter of inquiry proposing a project or program
that could be implemented on campus. Examples of possible projects that
the subcommittee would consider include sponsoring energy efficiency
competitions in the residence halls, exchange programs where fluorescent
light bulbs are swapped for incandescent bulbs, energy audits of campus
buildings or the development of permanent demonstration projects using
renewable energy sources.
Funding for approved projects would be provided in part by the clean
energy technology fee that students pay each semester. The $2 fee, which
students approved in a March 2003 referendum, was implemented during
the fall 2003 semester and supports the use of clean energy and energy
efficient technologies on campus. The fee generates about $70,000 per
semester and its implementation was promoted by the Students
for Environmental Concerns and the Illinois Student Senate.
The program has helped catalyze several environmentally friendly energy
initiatives, generating cost savings and energy efficiency for the university
and its facilities, creating a cleaner environment, and has led to the
development of hands-on research projects that enhance students’
learning, said Matt Malten, campus sustainability coordinator.
“Everyone is starting to think much more strategically about energy
issues, and it’s transforming both the operational and the educational
sides of the university,” Malten said.
“Energy is a crucial global issue and we want to heighten awareness
in the campus community, and we think the competition will help do that.”
Among the initiatives that the clean energy fee program is funding is
the development of a wind farm on campus to supplement the power generated
by Abbott Power Plant. Three wind turbines will be installed on the
South Farms and will feed energy into the campus electrical distribution
system, providing up to 2.7 percent of the electricity needed on campus,
without the air pollution and atmospheric emissions produced by coal
or natural gas. About $300,000 in funding for the $5.7 million wind
farm project will come from the clean energy fee program; another $2
million will be provided by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community
The wind turbine project is expected to be substantially completed by
fall 2007, about a year later than originally anticipated because heightened
interest in renewable energy and the development of large-scale wind
farms, such as the 267-turbine Twin Groves Wind Farm being constructed
in eastern McLean County, have caused a backlog with equipment manufacturers.
The Facilities and Services Division is working with a consultant who
is advising on possible sources for the equipment, assisting with the
request for proposals process and will help finalize a site. The site
that is being proposed is located 1/2 to one mile northeast of the new
beef and sheep complex near the intersection of Old Church Road and
The clean energy fee program also is supporting development of a small-scale
wind turbine project being built by the UI chapter of Engineers Without
Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that partners engineers
and engineering students in sustainable engineering projects intended
to improve the quality of life for people in developing communities.
The turbine, which will have exchangeable wooden blades 10 feet in diameter,
will be placed on the roof of Everitt Laboratory and will furnish some
of the building’s energy. Several classes will be using the turbine
for demonstration and educational purposes.
One of the busiest buildings on campus, the Illini
Union, also will benefit from the clean energy fee program.
The energy subcommittee will be providing $50,000 in funding for an
energy audit of the Illini Union by the Smart Energy Design Assistance
Center, a program in the School
of Architecture that promotes energy efficiency and energy conservation
practices in small- to medium-sized for-profit businesses. The funding
will be applied toward the audit and proposed building modifications
that arise from it.
This is the first time that the energy subcommittee has requested proposals
for projects to support.
“Our committee’s first priority was to get the wind turbine
project well on its way, and having accomplished that, the committee
felt that it would be important to seek additional input and ideas from
the campus community,” said Jennifer Walling, chair of the energy