UI continues to save energy

The UI’s net-negative energy growth by 2020 goal is progressing as planned.

By Katelyn Weisbrod

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Despite constructing several new facilities, the University of Iowa’s overall energy consumption is decreasing.

In 2010, former UI President Sally Mason established a list of sustainability goals to achieve by 2020. One of the goals is to reach net-negative energy growth, meaning the UI will consume less energy in 2020 than it did in 2010, even with the construction of 2.5 square feet of new buildings on campus over the course of the decade.

“[Mason] was focused on trying to minimize the carbon footprint of the university by reducing the consumption of existing buildings to make room for new buildings,” said Doug Litwiller, the UI associate director for energy conservation.

Litwiller spoke Tuesday about the status of the UI’s energy goal at an event in Melrose Meadows, a retirement community. As of August, the UI is 4 percent below the 2010 baseline, which he said is a remarkable achievement.

He also gave audience members a tutorial of how to read their energy bill and offered some tips for how to reduce energy waste.

“I don’t like the word conservation, because that oftentimes has negative connotations,” Litwiller said. “For a lot of people, conservation means they have to be too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, or they have to work in the dark. We’re not trying to make people suffer to save energy, just quit wasting energy.”

He shared methods to stop wasting energy. He said his “law of the house” is to turn things off when they don’t need to be on.

“That’s the message I’d like to deliver to everyone here and everyone on campus,” he said. “We always violate that. We leave lights on,” he said. “We leave appliances on. We leave the heat up in the wintertime and have too much air conditioning in the summertime. The easiest way to save energy is to shut things off.”

The UI Alumni Association organized the event as part of its Lifelong Learning series.

“We partnered with Melrose Meadows to host this event to invite community members, alumni, students, and individuals that live here in Melrose Meadows to come learn more about energy consumption and management,” assistant director of the UI Alumni Association’s programs Whit France-Kelly said.

Rita Sterler, an Iowa City local and a member of the UI Alumni Association, said she decided to go to the event at the last minute.

“I’m not good at shutting off my lights,” Sterler said. “When I go to sleep at night, I leave all my lights on, and I know I should conserve my electricity better so I thought I’d get some tips.”

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