Proposed 10-year sustainability plan shared with faculty senators

Meeting coverage

Iowa State has made strides in sustainability across campus over the past decade, but more is needed. Merry Rankin, director of sustainability, shared a proposed 10-year plan to improve energy use and consumption during a presentation to the Faculty Senate March 5.

The 2018-19 academic year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Live Green initiative, during which Iowa State earned two consecutive Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System -- STARS for short -- gold certifications, the universal standard for tracking sustainability in higher education. Rankin proposed one goal is to maintain the gold standard while pushing for platinum, the highest rating.

Rankin highlighted three areas where energy use could improve sustainability and address the senate’s climate change resolution:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lessen building energy consumption 
  • Increase use of renewable energy

The strategy to reduce greenhouse gases calls for all coal boilers at the power plant to be replaced with natural gas boilers by 2028. This would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent.

There are two strategies for improving building energy consumption. The first calls for a 10 percent reduction with no capital costs by setting building temperatures based on the season and monitoring after-hours use.

The second possibility establishes a fund for conservation projects, replacing the current Live Green Revolving Loan Fund. The initial phase calls for a 2.7 percent increase in utility rates across campus to generate $1 million per year and 3 percent annual energy savings through 2026. That would be followed by an additional 5.4 percent increase to generate $3 million per year and 6 percent energy savings by 2030. 

Senators raised concerns about how rate increases would impact departments with limited funds. Others questioned savings opportunities in buildings that have significant improvement needs and newer buildings already outfitted with energy-saving measures. Rankin said conservation projects would be funded based on the highest return on investment.

She recommends buying renewable energy credits to offset all purchased non-renewable electricity sources. It would triple renewable energy use with an annual cost of $78,000.  

In combination, the efforts would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, lead to at least a 10 percent reduction in building energy consumption and triple the use of renewable energy, all with neutral cost impact over time to the university.

Input will continue to be gathered from campus stakeholders through April, with implementation projected by July.

Office of equal opportunity

Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity, made a presentation on what the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) does and the process of investigating a complaint. Foreman said OEO investigated approximately 130 cases in 2018 with about 10 percent of those involving faculty.

Senators questioned the process and timeline for investigations that involve faculty, including when information becomes part of a faculty member's record. Dawn Bratsch-Prince, associate provost for faculty, said she and Foreman will return to a future Faculty Senate meeting to discuss the process.

Other business

  • The academic affairs council proposed a business analytics major and minor in the Ivy College of Business. The Bachelor of Science will provide undergraduates more training in analytical techniques within a business major. The new program would complement the data science major but focus on locating and interpreting information instead of the design, development and use of algorithms. The minor would be available only to business college majors. 
  • Senators are considering a request from the academic affairs council for a name change for the Master of Science and Master of Engineering degrees in the College of Engineering's information assurance program, to cybersecurity. The change would make the programs consistent with the undergraduate degree of the same name. The Master of Science is interdisciplinary and involves research work while the Master of Engineering has coursework done primarily online.

As of Monday, nearly 140 faculty have registered for a forum designed to show how Workday and improved service delivery will impact their teaching, research and extension work. Five sessions of the same forum are scheduled. Dates and time are:

  • Thursday, March 14 (11 a.m.-1 p.m., MU Sun Room)
  • Tuesday, March 26 (10 a.m.-noon, MU Sun Room)
  • Tuesday, March 26 (1-3 p.m., MU Sun Room)
  • Tuesday, April 2 (10 a.m.-noon, MU Sun Room)
  • Wednesday, April 3 (9:30-11:30 a.m., MU Great Hall)