IL State Senator Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields (left to right); GSU President Elaine P. Maimon; Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Warren Ribley. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)
University Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- With the installation of an on campus wind turbine, Governors State University will continue reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and move toward its goal of becoming Illinois’ greenest university.
GSU got the green light today for an important environmental initiative when Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, announced a $153,000 grant for the 50 kilowatt turbine, to be located on the University Park campus.
“Sustainability and efficiency have gone far beyond being buzzwords,” Ribley said. “They are now part of our way of life. We need to develop an energy policy that recognizes and takes care of the environment.”
In Illinois, Ribley said, institutions of higher learning are at the forefront of cutting-edge environmental initiatives. GSU’s wind turbine, along with other its innovative programs fostering efficiency and sustainability, will create jobs and save taxpayer dollars. “Those are dollars that can be plowed back into the university to support students and curriculum.”
The wind turbine will give Governors State a clean, renewable source of energy, and also be incorporated into the university’s academic programs, said GSU President Elaine P. Maimon. Students in GSU science classes will be able to monitor the turbine’s performance and learn about renewable technology.
Maimon said GSU’s wind turbine exemplifies the university’s commitment to sustainability. She noted that children attending the Family Learning Center, adjacent to the wind turbine site, will see it every day, and learn a valuable lesson about sustainability and environmental stewardship early in their lives.
State Senator Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said she is pleased to be a partner in GSU’s environmental initiatives. GSU, she noted, is a center for positive, forward-thinking action in the Southland region.
“We can make anything, grow anything, that we need and we can do it right here,” Hutchinson said. “A university is supposed to be a portal to the future. When GSU opens doors, you can go anywhere you want.”
Construction of the 120-foot-tall wind turbine will begin in January 2011 and is expected to take six to nine months. When operational, the turbine will provide 35 percent of the power for GSU’s Family Development Center and save about $14,000 a year in energy costs, according to Susan Rakstang, associate vice president for facilities development and maintenance.
With more than 7,500 students and 900 employees, Governors State University has been environmentally responsible for many years.
GSU’s students, faculty and staff are active participants in a long-standing, university wide recycling program. More than 75 ton of recyclable materials are collected each year.
In 2008, renovated several parking lots, replacing asphalt with permeable pavers — interlocking bricks that allow rainwater to seep down, trapping heavy metals and pollutants before they enter storm sewers.
GSU is also home to one of the state’s largest solar-thermal systems, which pre-heats water for the campus swimming pool and provides about one-third of the domestic hot water for the university’s main building.
GSU recently replaced two inefficient 750 horsepower boilers with 10 smaller modulating boilers, reducing the university’s carbon footprint by more than 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Inefficient lamps and light fixtures throughout the university have been replaced and new bulbs and light fixtures were added to The Center for Performing Arts, the university television studios, and other campus locations.