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Emilie Rex
Office of Sustainability

Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Greening of the IMU this week: Environmental building experts, IU community to converge, brainstorm

Dec. 1, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University community and environmental experts will come together in Bloomington Dec. 2-3 this week to discuss improving sustainability practices at IU's iconic Indiana Memorial Union.

IMU image

Photo by Chris Meyer

Print-Quality Photo

The Greening of the IMU, led by the Office of Sustainability at IU Bloomington, will bring together IU students, faculty and staff with nationally recognized experts in the field of green building. The intense, two-day green planning process -- also known as an "eco-charrette" -- will focus on ideas for more efficient energy use at the IMU.

Featured speakers at the event will include IU's Director of Sustainability, Bill Brown; Provost Karen Hanson; IU Senior Associate Architect Bob Richardson; IMU Executive Director Bruce Jacobs; and IU Vice President for Capital Projects and Facilities Tom Morrison, among others.

The Greening of the IMU is funded by a $50,000 gift from the Duke Energy Foundation.

"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."

The grant provides funding for a nationally recognized specialist to guide the green planning process. The grant proposal -- submitted by Hellmuth + Bicknese LLC, led by principal Dan Hellmuth, and the Leonardo Academy, led by Michael Arny -- was chosen based on the team's extensive experience with green building design and eco-charrettes.

Hellmuth will offer guidance on campus sustainability and using the Greening of the IMU as a prototype for the rest of the campus. Hellmuth + Bicknese recently completed the Tyson Living Learning Center at Washington University (learn more at, putting that university on track to win the Living Building Challenge, a competition to build a structure capable of powering itself with renewable energy and treating its water onsite.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity to not only 'Green the IMU' but also to use this as a catalyst to build upon where IU Bloomington as an institution already is in respect to campus sustainability," said Hellmuth. "It is coming at an opportune time when the IMU itself is entertaining some major renovations to better serve the students, a new Sustainable Master Plan has just been completed and recommendations in Campus Sustainability Report are being enacted campuswide."

Arny will speak about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Existing Buildings. The Leonardo Academy is one of the nation's most experienced LEED for Existing Buildings experts, with established projects such as the LEED EB Platinum Clinton Library, National Geographic Society Headquarters and JohnsonDiversey Headquarters.

More than 50 participants, including local and state experts, have volunteered their time to support the charrette. Other attendees include representatives from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Association for College Unions International (ACUI).

The initiative coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Indiana Memorial Union Board, established in 1909 as a campus organization. The Greening of the IMU will culminate in a report to guide renovation and operational decisions.

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. Energy and operations savings are expected to quickly repay the cost of the initiative, which includes employing a specialist to guide the planning process.

Brown, IU Bloomington's Director of Sustainability, said that lessons learned from the Greening of the IMU can be applied by the campus to making improvements at other buildings.

"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."

IU student and sustainability interns Nathan Bower-Bir and Farah Abi-Akar assisted IU engineers with an assessment of the building's energy and water use and other planning and reporting needs in preparation for the eco-charrette. 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 two-day program. A summer sustainability intern, Jenna Morrison, assisted with the grant application that was successful in obtaining funding from Duke Energy Foundation for the project.

About the IMU

The IMU was created as a "men's union" organization to improve campus civility. Construction of the current 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, typically hosting 14,000 visitors daily. 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

See a previous news release on the Greening of the IMU at