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Mark Land
Associate vice president, IU Communications

Ryan Piurek
Director, news and media, IU Communications

Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013

IU Bloomington achieves major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

April 12, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent last year from the previous year and has now cut its direct emissions by more than half in the past two years, campus officials reported.

"This is a very positive step -- perhaps the most significant step the campus has taken so far -- toward carbon neutrality," said Mike Jenson, director of IU's Office of Environmental, Health and Safety Management.

Central Heating Plant

Central Heating Plant

Before the 43 percent reduction from 2011 to 2012, the campus saw its greenhouse gas emissions drop 9 percent from 2010 to 2011.

The major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the past two years reflects a concerted shift from coal to natural gas usage at the campus's Central Heating Plant, Jenson said. It has already exceeded a goal set forth in IU Bloomington's 2010 Campus Master Plan, which called for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

It also reflects a successful effort, spanning several years, to build "fuel flexibility" into the boiler system, Jenson added, ensuring the campus could take advantage of falling natural gas prices to dramatically cut its carbon footprint.

"In recent years, there has been a strong dedication among our utilities group toward reducing our emissions and increasing our energy efficiency as much as possible, so when there were changes in the marketplace, we were in a position to shift more and more resources to natural gas," Jenson said.

"Still, we were surprised by the magnitude of our reduction," he added. "Because we were burning so much more natural gas than ever before, we knew it was going to drop, but we didn't expect it to drop that much."

The campus power plant now uses 95 percent natural gas and only 5 percent coal. Among the next steps for the campus, Jenson said, is increasing its focus on energy efficiency in its buildings and facilities.

In December, IU trustees approved a new Integrated Energy Master Plan for the IU Bloomington campus that provides detailed guidelines for reducing campus energy use and cutting carbon emissions while maintaining sound economic rationales for conservation-related improvements.

The plan benchmarks energy consumption by campus buildings and addresses the current and future effectiveness of the Central Heating Plant, Central Cooling Plant and utility distribution systems for electricity, chilled water, and steam and condensate.