Campus Energy Sustainability Panel
Students from Green Cycle Group of Northeastern Illinois University organized a multi-campus panel event on Thursday, November 29th.
The event was sponsored by NEIU’s Green Fee; a mandatory student fee that goes toward renewable energy technologies and improvement of campus energy efficiency at Northeastern Illinois University.
The first session featured NEIU initiatives, including recent energy efficiency measures made on campus by NORESCO, and details on the green building features planned for their new green building at El Centro.
At Northeastern University, retrofits around campus lead to not only energy efficiency, but also help to bring tuition costs down, according to Steven Kowalski of NORESCO. A representative from NEIU facilities used a model to demonstrate the university’s planned El Centro building. The proposed building, which will begin construction as early as next spring, will be an LEED Gold certified building with a photovoltaic array on the roof and a ‘curtain wall’ system to control the amount of sunlight absorbed. It will also serve as an educational tool, with monitors displaying information on water and energy consumption.
During session two, professionals representing four Chicago-area universities spoke on behalf of sustainable initiatives taking place at their respective campuses.
This program, started by students as a class project, continues to be run by students from a range of departments and majors. Their varying backgrounds helps students to creatively collaborate on the array of issues involved in alternative fuels. At the Biodeisel Lab, waste cooking oil from local restaurants and their cafeterias is processed and turned into biodiesel, which Loyola sells to bus companies and uses on on-campus buses. The waste product is also used to make glycerin soap. They are currently working on obtaining a green product seal and replacing all cleaning products on campus.
This self-sustaining, urban environmental project at Loyola project places emphasis on a “Green Economy Cycle”; a closed loop system that utilizes all waste products. Loyola’s Biodiesel Lab relies on student involvement, and is a huge source of research, internships, class projects and volunteering.
The University of Illinois-Chicago is working on building renovations and expanding their geothermal system, which currently supplies three on-campus buildings. In addition, they have a LEED Gold certified building, solar panels, natural lighting, retrofits, insulation, storm water capture landscaping, and automated window shading at on-campus buildings that changes with the temperature level of the room.
The Director of Sustinability at Northwestern Illinois University spoke about the school’s 1 year old sustainability office and its use of Renewable Energy Credits to combat the school’s carbon footprint. Read more about the issue with Renewable Energy Credits here.
Northwestern University’s Sustainability Office, which now has full-time staff supported by student interns, was founded due to student push. Although Northwestern has done its part with energy conservation, they highlighted the fact that energy efficiency is also a behavioral change and spoke about the competition in residential housing known as the Green Cup.