October 26, 2011

University Housing to receive ‘green’ award

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s University Housing will receive an award this week in recognition of efforts toward sustainability and being “green.”

The Lighten the Load initiative award from Mac-Gray, a leading campus laundry service, recognizes the University as “Carbon Neutral.”  The goal of the effort is to reduce laundry equipment greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and offset unavoidable emissions. Through the installation and use of energy and water-efficient washers and dryers, the Carbondale campus laundry has drastically reduced its carbon footprint and energy consumption.

“We are pleased to partner with Mac-Gray in this effort.  It is important to University Housing and SIU that we continue to identify and implement initiatives that support sustainability,” said Lisa Marks, interim director of University Housing.

Mac-Gray launched the program in 2008 and currently 27 institutions of higher learning in 12 states participate.  Since that time, there’s been an offset of 41 million pounds of carbon, according to Mac-Gray officials. 

They note that at SIU Carbondale, the annual carbon dioxide offset totals about 602,000 pounds, representing 100 percent of the estimated emissions.  They estimate that with the installation of the new high-efficiency washers, the University is saving 3 million gallons of water each year with projected associated annual energy cost savings of $60,000. 

SIU Carbondale is the second institution of higher learning in the state and the first public university to earn the Carbon Neutral recognition.  The University’s commitment to sustainability is strong and long-standing.  SIU Carbondale joined the University Leaders for a Sustainable Future and in 1999 was the first school in Illinois to sign the Talloires Declaration -- a statement by university administrators in support of sustainability and sound environmental teaching and research.

Mac-Gray partners with Carbonfund.org in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases including methane and carbon dioxide.  The goals also include protecting groundwater, reducing air pollution, controlling odor and producing power. 

Sally Benson of Mac-Gray will present the award to the University Housing Sustainability Committee at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, on the lower level of Grinnell Hall.