Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It’s a great pleasure for me to say a few words today at this wonderful event. I thank the sponsors of this tremendous expo: the UI Energy Conservation Advisory Council, UI Student Government, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Facilities Management, the UI Lecture Series, and numerous UI business and community partners.

The Energy Expo displays and events are truly fascinating and engaging. If I were prone to puns, I would say that they are really “energizing” me to think even more about conservation.

What The University of Iowa has done in energy conservation in the last few years is amazing. In my short time as President, I have been impressed by the imagination and commitment that this institution has made to creating a greener campus. I fully support the continued innovation and effort that our students, faculty, and staff are devoting to reducing our carbon footprint.

Let me share just a few highlights of what The University of Iowa has done.

We are one of only five public universities to join the Chicago Climate Exchange. This is the world’s first—and North America’s only—greenhouse gas emission trading system.

The UI is a national leader in using biomass fuel to displace coal in our power plant. Our partnership with Quaker Oats to burn oat hull byproducts is a win-win situation. While we help Quaker Oats eliminate its byproducts, we reduce our dependence on coal.

The UI Energy Plan is innovative and ambitious. We are stressing not only energy reduction, but also sustainability. We’re a leader in the Big Ten and nationally as we aim for a 10 percent energy reduction and 15 percent renewable energy goal by 2013.

Students lead us at the University just as much as the University leads the nation. One example is the Sturrier Challenge, a student-led initiative to reduce the eco-footprint for Currier and Stanley Halls.

And we are exploring many more innovations: electric vehicles for Facilities Management, landfill gas pipelines, and wind and hydro power. We’ve already saved a lot of energy with the initiatives we have. In the past two years, we’ve reduced our energy costs by about $5 million. That’s great for the environment. And it’s also good stewardship of the resources we receive from the citizens of this state and from our students’ tuition dollars.

One of the greatest conservationists of the past century is Aldo Leopold, a native Iowan. He said, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” We must become conscious of our carbon footprint. The result of doing so is reducing our energy consumption. And when we do so, we act as respectful members of the earth community, what our fellow Iowan Aldo Leopold exhorted us to do.