The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
Ranked as the 19th-best public university in the country by U.S. News & World Report for 2 years running, and ninth among the nation’s top 25 entrepreneurial colleges by Princeton Review, The University of Iowa (UI) boasts an impressive roster of 250 campus facilities that “provide a physical environment that promotes university excellence.” This Big 10 school has always been a proponent of efficiency, and recently created a high-level campus committee on energy conservation that includes staff, faculty, and students. Additionally, the UI, with much determination, took a huge - and successful - leap of faith to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, utilize a renewable waste product, and help the university reduce its cost. Its Biomass Fuel Project uses waste oat hulls (the outer shell of an oat grain that remains after the soft, protein core has been removed by milling the grain) from a nearby Quaker Oats plant as a fuel to help generate power. Recognized as green energy because there is no net increase of CO2 into the atmosphere, the oat hulls supplement the former coal-burning boilers (which have been converted to accommodate a mix of coal and biomass fuel) for an annual savings of roughly $500,000 in purchased fuel costs - a documented and advantageous balance of economics and the environment. This greening of the UI Power Plant has enabled the campus to be among the first public universities to join the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), a greenhouse gas trading pilot program for emission sources and offset projects. The university has also been recognized by several awards programs, and is currently drafting plans to build a future that embraces bioenergy. Education theory and real-world industry - could a win-win get better than that?