CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn joined U. of I. officials at the Business Instructional Facility on the Urbana campus on Feb. 18 to celebrate the signing of the Sustainable University Compact, which outlines 12 initiatives that Illinois colleges and universities can choose to undertake to make their environments cleaner and greener by Dec. 31, 2010.
In signing the compact, B. Joseph White, the university’s president; Richard Herman, chancellor at the Urbana campus; and Niranjan Shah, chair of the Board of Trustees, promised to accomplish eight eco-friendly initiatives, which include increasing energy efficiency by joining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program; reducing pesticide usage; and reducing carbon emissions.
“It is important that we implement a green way of thinking and acting to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Quinn, who called the U. of I. the “epicenter of research” into eco-friendly practices and the Business Instructional Facility the “crown jewel” that exemplifies sustainable building design for U.S. colleges and universities. Quinn also praised forward-thinking students for implementing a “green technology fee” on themselves to support clean energy projects and other eco-friendly initiatives on campus.
“Like the governor, we believe in a greener way of thinkin’ throughout the Land of Lincoln,” Herman said. “We intend to lead in the energy technology revolution.”
The compact is one of many components of the U. of I.’s long-range plan to combat climate change through eco-friendly practices, curricula, and research.
One of the first universities to implement a recycling program, the U. of I. has several of the initiatives on the compact under way, such as storm water management projects, and promoting sustainable transportation and reducing emissions through use of hybrid and electric vehicles and through a recently implemented car-sharing program.
Herman’s sustainability goals for the Urbana campus include reducing the energy consumption of existing buildings by 10 percent within three years and rolling back usage to 1990 standards. An Energy Policy for the campus, adopted last year, is raising awareness about energy consumption and costs, and aims to shift energy generation to renewable resources. Herman also pledged to develop a plan for achieving carbon neutrality when he signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment last year.
The Business Instructional Facility is the first building on the 142-year-old campus that will be certified through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – sustainable development program. The $60 million-plus facility, which opened for classes Aug. 25, features rooftop solar panels and drought-resistant plantings that provide insulation and reduce water runoff.
Since Quinn created the Illinois Sustainable University Compact three years ago in his role as chairman of the Green Governments Coordinating Council, 65 Illinois universities and community colleges have adopted it.
Details about the Sustainable University Compact are available on Quinn’s Web site.