The campuses of many state universities--with their miles of research laboratories and sports facilities to power, and tens of thousands of students to house--can sometimes resemble a small city. They can require as much energy to run as a small city, as well. Over the past decade, colleges and universities across the country have become concerned about their environmental footprint, and today they are leading the way in developing innovative approaches to rethinking energy infrastructure. Kent State University is installing nearly 45,000 square feet of solar panels on its athletic complex, while Princeton's power plant can now switch to run on biodiesel.
In many cases, students have been the ones instigating these campus changes, pushing their administrators to make commitments to reduce fossil fuel emissions or to set a goal of becoming carbon neutral. For their part, schools are interested in finding energy savings and reaching greater efficiency. As climate change continues to alter energy needs and alternative fuel sources become more widely-accepted, towns and institutions may find themselves drawing lessons from the way college campuses are meeting their energy goals.
The University of Iowa's Biomass Fuel Project
One afternoon about 10 years ago, the Quaker Oats processing facility in Cedar Rapids contacted administrators at the University of Iowa. The oatmeal, granola, and cereal manufacturer generates thousands of tons of oat hulls each year, and it wanted to know...