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New sustainability coordinator to help make campus green

The M.U.M. Review
Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA
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6 April 2008

The University recently took a major step forward in its commitment to creating a campus that is environmentally friendly by hiring a sustainability coordinator who will oversee implementation of a wide range of initiatives.

Mark Stimson says that whether it's energy or food or any other resource, his role is to help the University move toward use of local and sustainable sources.

An initial focus is on the Sustainable Living department, which has already been retrofitting its area with daylighting technologies, high-performance fixtures, solar hot water, and a wind generator and photovoltaic panels for power.

Next up is the installation of a geothermal system of heating and cooling. The goal is to reduce demand through the use of various technologies and then meet that demand with sustainable sources.

'We hope to have this completely finished within the next six to eight months,' Mr. Stimson said. 'Once we've set it up and have proven what we can do, we'll then roll it out to the rest of campus.'

He said that it's not just a matter of being more in accord with the environment, but also that there's a serious financial consideration, since the University spends around $1 million per year on electricity and natural gas.

'There will be a definite cost as things roll out, but there will be a great payback,' Mr. Stimson said. 'Electricity and natural gas prices are only going to increase.'

Geothermal technology takes advantage of the relatively constant temperature below ground of around 55 degrees to help cool the air in the summer and to warm frigid winter air to 55 degrees so that heating systems need only add incremental warmth.

Half the cost of a geothermal installation, Mr. Stimson said, is the drilling, and the University may purchase its own drilling rig to save money.

Mr. Stimson says that this transformation of campus will entail a lot of physical labor—work that will be done by students, interns, volunteers, work/study students, University staff, and contract workers. But he's undaunted, given the enthusiasm of the students.

'There's an amazing level of energy and enthusiasm here. It's mind boggling—and growing fast. A lot of students are coming. It's an exciting place to be.'

Copyright © 2008, Maharishi University of Management.

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