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Bill Brown
IU Office of Sustainability

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'Greening of the IMU' to improve sustainability, save costs at IU Bloomington

Sept. 23, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Dozens of experts will join Indiana University students, faculty and staff this fall for an intensive planning exercise to improve sustainability practices at one of IU Bloomington's best-known buildings: the Indiana Memorial Union.

The initiative, called the Greening of the Indiana Memorial Union, will be led by the Office of Sustainability at IU Bloomington and funded with a $50,000 gift from the Duke Energy Foundation.

"The Indiana Memorial Union is both an iconic building and an important part of the daily lives of our students," said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson. "This initiative will make the IMU a model for sustainability practices that improve efficiency and operations across campus. We are deeply grateful to the Duke Energy Foundation for making this possible."

IMU image

Photo by Chris Meyer

Print-Quality Photo

The initiative coincides with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Indiana Memorial Union Board, established in 1909 as a campus organization.

"Duke Energy is proud to partner with Indiana University to make this initiative a reality," said Jim Stanley, president of Duke Energy Indiana. "Our company believes sustainability and energy efficiency are critical components for a 21st-century energy system. The energy lessons learned through this project will reverberate throughout the IU system and into the wider community."

Modeled on efforts such as the Greening of the White House in the 1990s and the Greening of the Indianapolis City-County Building earlier this year, the Greening of the IMU will include a green design "charrette" on Dec. 2-3, culminating in a report to guide renovation and operational decisions.

A charrette is a collaborative process in which a group works together to find solutions to design challenges. IU Bloomington Director of Sustainability Bill Brown, an architect who took part in the Greening of the White House, said bringing together experts, volunteers, students and staff who are familiar with the building can produce dramatic improvements in efficiency and savings in operating costs.

"One of the most exciting things is that this is a huge learning opportunity for students," Brown said. "This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Indiana Memorial Union Board, and we hope to prepare the IMU facility for the next 100 years with the help of the next generation of sustainability leaders."

A graduate level class in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, titled Sustainability Leadership, will provide preliminary data gathering for the Greening of the IMU and participate in the charrette. IU student and sustainability intern Nathan Bower-Bir will assist IU engineers with an assessment of the building's energy and water use and other planning and reporting needs. A summer sustainability intern, Jenna Morrison, assisted with the grant application that was successful in obtaining funding from Duke Energy Foundation for the project.

Participants will analyze such topics as the interior and exterior of the building, mechanical, energy and lighting processes, transportation and parking, purchasing procedures, and food service and hospitality functions. Lessons learned from the Greening of the IMU can be applied by the campus to making improvements at other buildings, Brown said.

Energy and operations savings are expected to quickly repay the cost of the initiative, which includes employing a specialist to guide the planning process. The Greening of the White House, for example, created ongoing savings of $300,000 a year and reduced atmospheric carbon emissions by 845 metric tons per year.

Gary Chrzastowski, assistant director of facility services for the IMU, said management and staff welcome the opportunity to extend measures already being taken to pursue energy savings, green cleaning and food sustainability.

"It will take our efforts to a higher level, and it certainly fits with our vision of the Indiana Memorial Union," Chrzastowski said. "Part of our mission is to be a unifying force on campus, and what better way to do that than to bring students, staff and faculty together around sustainability?"

The Indiana Memorial Union dates its history from the creation of a "men's union" organization to improve campus civility. Construction of the IMU building began in 1931, and the facility was dedicated in 1932. The Biddle Continuation Center was added in 1960.

With 500,000 square feet of space, the IMU is one of the largest college unions in the world. It includes a hotel, a variety of dining services, recreational facilities, student lounges, offices for student organizations, and meeting rooms, serving as a "home away from home" for IU Bloomington students. For more information, see