Energy + Climate
The University of Iowa is committed to increasing the use of renewable energy, thereby reducing our reliance on coal, purchased electricity, and natural gas. Beginning in 2003, our biomass fuel project, and partnership with Quaker Oats, has enabled us to reduce our fossil fuel green house gas emissions by over 50,000 tons of CO2 each year.
The biomass fuel project continues today and has become a springboard for other renewable energy and educational efforts including: alternate fuels testing; heightened student and public awareness of our green house gas emissions; membership in the Chicago Climate Exchange; installation of solar photovoltaic panels; investigation of the potential use of landfill gas as an alternative to natural gas and coal; and increased awareness of energy conservation.
A few highlights:
- The University of Iowa's Vision 2020 Sustainability Targets include two energy related areas: achieve net-negative energy growth and green our energy portfolio. Read the complete Vision 2020
- The Power Plant retrofitted one coal-fired boiler to burn oat hulls from Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, reducing fuel costs and emissions. Annual savings is $670,000. UI Engineers continue to seek new biomass alternatives such as wood chips.
- Using combined heat and power (CHP) and use of biomass fuels, The University of Iowa is able to co-generate energy for cost-effective electricity, cooling and water treatment on campus. And, since CHP is highly efficient, it reduces traditional air pollutants and carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas associated with climate change, as well.
- The UI Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant is a project under consideration that would use alternative and renewable energy sources such as biomass, landfill gas, anaerobic digester methane, and gasifier syngas.
To learn more about UI Utility and Energy Management...
The oat hulls project and other efficiencies introduced at the UI Power Plant and elsewhere around campus have resulted in a cost savings of $825,000 and a reduction in 61,200 tons of CO2 emissions. CO2 Footprint
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, City of Iowa City, August, 2009. Learn more...
Coal Ash Management
The amount of coal ash generated by the UI main power plant is decreasing as its biomass project expands. Modifications to the solid fuel handling system and to its second solid fuel boiler will soon allow the UI to transition to the use of biomass in both solid fuel boilers. Learn more...
Green Energy Discovery District
In July 2010, the University installed its first wind turbine, a 2.4 kWh Skystream, on a 37 foot tilt-tower. The wind turbine will be used as a teaching device by Pablo Carrica, associate professor in the UI College of Engineering Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. UI Facilities Management will also connect the turbine to the existing power panel in the Madison Street Services Building (MSSB) and use the power it generates on campus.
The wind turbine is part of the UI's evolving "green energy discovery district," roughly bounded by MSSB, the University Services Building and the UI Power Plant. The area engages several green energy technologies that include the new Energy Control Center on the third floor of the University Services Building, a solar E-car charging station to be constructed near MSSB, two types of photovoltaic/solar panel technologies on and adjacent to the new Cambus Maintenance facility, expansion of the biomass energy program at the UI Power Plant, a growing alternative fuel vehicle fleet, and the investigation into the revitalization of hydroelectric power. Several of these projects are the outcome of collaborative efforts between Facilities Management and the College of Engineering.
The University of Iowa is continually looking for ways to conserve energy and utilize renewable energy sources.
Solar Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Facilities Management has purchased electric vehicles with a vision to eventually convert more than 50% of Facilities Management’s fleet vehicles. Some departments are currently evaluating electric vehicles for the service fleet.
The solar e-car charging station, located near the University Services Building and the Madison Street Services Building, will provide charging spaces for approximately 20 electric vehicles for Facilities Management (FM) and other UI departments. The project is slated to be completed summer 2011.
Smart Grid Technology Research Station
One stall in the solar charging station will be equipped for solar energy-related learning and research, such as solar and utility grid integration, power storage, and smart grid technologies.
Thin Film Solar Roof
- Located on the roof of the Cambus Maintenance Facility Addition
- 38kW photovoltaic system
- Power generated is sent to the campus utility grid
At the University of Iowa, Information Technology Services power management and best practices are set at the local level by IT Administrators. However, the Instructional Technology Centers (ITCs) - or computer labs - do have formalized policies in place to reduce the energy use and paper waste. Learn more about ITS conservation efforts.
The University's computer labs support sustainable computing by setting printing services to default to duplex, saving an estimated 1.75 million sheets of paper per semester. The initial request for the duplex default came at the request of the University of Iowa Student Government and has been the norm since March 2009. Learn more...
ITC has an online environmental impact calculator for computer lab users. You've printed the equivalent of how many trees? Learn more...
To reduce power consumption and encourage University sustainability efforts, ITC computers stopped displaying screensaver advertisements in August of 2009. ITC computers are now configured to operate in sleep mode during periods of inactivity. Learn more...
Energy Control Center
The Energy Control Center serves as a centralized location for the monitoring, analysis, and efficient dispatching of utility information. Utilities & Energy Management department at the University monitors many thousands of temperatures, pressures and flows in its various utility production and building control systems. This center, new to the University in 2009, uses state of the art technology to provide live displays of energy usage across campus and real-time projections of energy usage in every campus building. Read more…
Iowa Institute for Rural and Environmental Health (IREH) Building (PDF available)
An energy audit of the Iowa Institute for Rural & Environmental Health (IREH) building at The University of Iowa estimated energy efficient lighting upgrades could save up to 21% on energy use. The lighting upgrade included:
- Using natural light to illuminate the building spaces
- Installing energy-efficient lights
- Using timers and sensors to control when lights are turned off and on
Van Allen Hall (PDF available)
Rising energy bills and outdated building management systems and equipment in Van Allen Hall made it a good candidate for energy-related improvements.
The University of Iowa Utilities & Energy Management team led an initiative to:
- Upgrade the building systems
- Boost energy performance
- Reduce operating costs
- Increase occupant comfort
UI Energy Hawks
The UI Energy Hawks is a cross-organizational team assembled to identify opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and reducing energy costs in 60 general education funded buildings. The team draws its specialists from Facilities Management building maintenance, commissioning, energy controls, metering and engineering units. Each year, the Energy Hawks is expected to discover an additional $1 million in savings. Read more...
The University of Iowa participates in a voluntary Electrical Curtailment program through MidAmerican Energy - reducing the University's electrical consumption during requested peak usage periods during the summer. The agreement provides a financial benefit to the University through lower electric rates while MidAmerican benefits by avoiding the purchase of expensive power from other suppliers and by not having to construct new power generation facilities. Read more...
The University of Iowa Power Plant has an innovative partnership with Quaker Oats on the biomass fuel project. The University uses a biomass material, oat hulls, produced by Quaker Oats at its Cedar Rapids facility. About 60 tons of discarded oat hulls from Quaker Oats are delivered daily to the UI Power Plant. The organic material is burned with coal to produce energy. Read more...
Top 20 On-site Power Generation by US EPA
The University of Iowa was recognized as a Top Partner by the EPA Green Power Partnership in October 2009. As one of the top 20, UI is a noted leader in generating and consuming the most green power on-site within the Green Power Partnership. Learn more...