UI Announces Sustainability Goals; Signs Partnership Agreement with EPA

Friday, October 29, 2010

University of Iowa News Release

The University of Iowa today announced seven ambitious goals for sustainability in a ceremony held at the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse in Iowa City.

Coinciding with this announcement, UI President Sally Mason signed a Sustainability Partnership Program agreement with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks, establishing the UI as the first university in EPA Region 7 to sign the voluntary compact. The partnership recognizes the university’s sustainability plan.

The seed for the sustainability plan, “2020 Vision,” was planted on Earth Day 2008, when Mason issued a challenge to the university to make sustainability a central aspect of its mission.

“It’s easy to claim to be ‘green’ by making a few token gestures,” Mason said. “The more difficult—and far better—thing is to weave a commitment to sustainability into the fabric of the university enterprise. That is the path we chose to follow more than two years ago, and the one we remain committed to today.”

The university’s goals under the plan are to:

1. Become a net-negative energy consumer, consuming less energy on campus in 2020 than consumed in 2010 despite projected growth.

2. “Green” the university’s energy portfolio, reaching 40 percent renewable energy consumption on campus by 2020.

3. Decrease the university’s production of waste, diverting 60 percent of its waste by 2020.

4. Reduce the carbon impact of transportation, achieving, by 2020, a 10 percent reduction in per capita emissions of fossil fuel-produced CO2 from university-related transportation and travel.

5. Increase student opportunities to learn and practice principles of sustainability, in part by establishing a student sustainability activity fund.

6. Support and grow interdisciplinary research in sustainability-focused and -related areas, pursing international prominence in water sustainability education and research.

7. Develop partnerships to advance collaborative initiatives, meeting the demands of supporting the workforce and economic development needs of green industries in Iowa.

“We are dedicated to building a sustainable campus and future for young people, as well as fostering partnerships that benefit our state,” said Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability. “These goals address critical changes to improve our energy profile, our waste management and transportation and our commitment to supporting students and research in sustainability.”

The UI commitment to these priorities led to an invitation by EPA Region 7 to participate in its Sustainability Partnership Program, whose overall goal is to minimize energy use, resources and waste generation.

The program offers the UI assistance with reaching its environmental goals in a way that saves money and makes good business sense. Specifically, the EPA will

* Encourage the UI’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.
* Provide credible tools to quantify economic and environmental benefits.
* Establish a single point of contact to discuss sustainable strategies.
* Support the UI’s success through mutually agreeable activities.

"I am delighted to welcome the University of Iowa as the first partner in our region's sustainability partnership program," Brooks said. "This program aims to make university communities more environmentally and economically sustainable. The University of Iowa’s environmental investments can make Iowans' air and water cleaner."

Christiansen said, “This agreement is a mutual pledge – on our part, to work to meet these goals and on EPA’s part, to support our efforts with technical assistance and recognition.”

The complete Vision 2020 document can be found online, http://sustainability.uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Liz Christiansen, University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, liz-christiansen@uiowa.edu, 319-335-5516; Kris Lancaster, EPA, 913-551-7557, lancaster.kris@epa.gov; Stephen Pradarelli, University of Iowa Office of University Relations, 319-384-0007, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu