Priding itself for being ecologically responsible, Eastern Illinois University always thinks "green" before renovating or building on its campus.
"Our energy conservation is the best in the state, and compared to other campuses our size, we're one of the best in the entire country," said Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs. "And we intend to stay that way."
EIU officials believe the institution's new Textbook Rental Service facility will help that effort along.
In addition to conservative measures which include high efficiency lighting, occupancy sensors, high efficiency plumbing fixtures, white roof and reflective paving to reduce heat island effect, and polished concrete floors, the 19,200-square-foot facility includes sustainable features such as geothermal wells for a ground source heat pump heating and cooling system.
According to Nadler, the geothermal system involves several deep holes in the ground underneath the building. Heat from the earth will be utilized, reducing energy use by an estimated 25 percent.
"The facility is definitely in line with Eastern's values on sustainability and in line with our students' desire to be as green as we can possibly be," Nadler said. "It is a facility to be proud of."
Thinking "green" paid off in a more tangible way, as well.
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, based in Chicago, awarded Eastern a grant totaling $24,240 to help offset the cost of the geothermal system in its Textbook Rental Service facility. Three years earlier, the foundation awarded the university a similar amount for lighting upgrades.
The foundation annually funds projects in three core areas: improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy resources, and preserving and enhancing natural areas and wildlife habitat throughout the state.
The energy efficiency grant program, however, accounts for the largest share of grants awarded. Funded projects yield substantial savings each year for Illinois schools, libraries, community centers and local governments.
"We certainly have appreciated the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation's support over the years, and consider the foundation a partner in our collective efforts to make Illinois one of the 'greenest' states in the nation," Nadler said.