Rocky Sustains

Think Purple, Think GREEN, Think Western.

Gov Sustainability Awards

Leave a comment

WIU Named Winner of Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award

Link to WIU Press Release

MACOMB, IL — Western Illinois University is one of 19 companies and organizations that received the 2015 Governor’s Sustainability Award, the nation’s longest-running state award for excellence in environmental performance. The award winners were announced Tuesday afternoon at a ceremony in Chicago.

According to the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s website, the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award has recognized private and public Illinois organizations since 1987. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award, which is presented by the ISTC annually. ISTC technical assistance experts select winners after a vigorous process of review and examination.

According to Mandi Green, facilities sustainability and safety coordinator, WIU Facilities Management staff submitted an application based on the sustainability-related projects staff members at the unit have undertaken and completed in recent years, as well as on the unit’s everyday practices, purchases and policies.

“In this competition, we were not only competing with colleges and universities, but also against manufacturing companies, corporations, municipalities and county organizations throughout the state, both private and state funded. We were one of only two universities to win the award,” she explained. “We applied for the Governor’s Sustainability Award this year for the Facilities Management unit as a whole. A significant goal for our unit on WIU’s campus is to help facilitate a culture change toward sustainability and to integrate it into all of our projects and programs. A big part of this application was based on how, culturally, sustainability has become a part of everything we do in Facilities Management.”

Green added that some of the highlighted projects in the award application included the removal and disposal of debris from the demolition (in 2012) of Wetzel Hall.

“Approximately 94 percent of the debris from the demolition of Wetzel Hall was diverted from the landfill,” Green said. “Additionally, our recently installed solar-powered charging station umbrellas, which we were able to obtain via grant funding, can be used to charge individuals’ cell phones, laptops or other electronic devices while they’re enjoying the outdoors. We have also installed one bicycle repair station, just to the north of Grote Hall, and we have another installation in the works, north of the University Union. These stations enable students to hang their bikes for easy access, and tools and an air pump are also provided at each station,” she said.

Green also noted that WIU Facilities Management staff members have completed six lighting upgrade projects, which create more energy efficient lighting across campus.

“To date, these lighting upgrades have already saved the University approximately $1.3 million in utility costs and have exceeded WIU’s investment in the project,” Green said. “For these projects, we completed multiple Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grants, totaling approximately $917,000, and invested $517,000 out of our own budgets, with a project total cost of approximately $1.4 million. This shows how committed WIU’s Facility Management employees are to sustainability. Writing these grants and following up with the reporting process are time consuming, and sometimes challenging, tasks, but because our unit makes sustainability a priority, staff members here have helped to reduce our University’s carbon footprint and saved WIU crucial dollars.”

To view the other award winners, visit ISTC’s website at

Follow Western’s sustainability initiatives on Facebook at and WIU Facilities Management on Facebook at

By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Relations


Leave a comment

Rocky Bikes!

Have you ever needed a bike for a couple days but your buddy won’t let you borrow his? The Physical Plant across from Thompson Hall runs a free bike share program for students at WIU. I personally love using the bike program to help with my commute from Linc/Wash all the way to Currens every day. Renting a bike is pretty easy, all you do is walk into the Physical Plant across from Thompson Hall and ask to rent a bike! All you need to do is show the student worker your student ID and they take down your ID number as well as your first and last name. The bike that you check out can be reserved for 48 hours, and then you will have to wait for a 24 hour period before you rent another bike. Did I mention that there are fifteen different bikes to choose from? All of these bikes are free to rent with a student ID.

On top of all the bikes you can rent, Rocky Sustains is installing two new Bike Fix It Stations around campus. So if your bike is ever experiencing some basic problems, need of a place to fix your bike, or simply need air in your tires, you can find one on the quad, just north of the Union, and the other on the northwest side of Grote Hall. These Bike Fix It Stations also have basic tools used for a bike and a QR code that will help you to trouble shoot problems with your bike. They are to be installed over this summer.


Finally, if you have not noticed yet there is a yellow bike path on the quad and around campus. This is the bike path! Below is a map of where the bike path leads around campus.

2015 Bicycle Path (1)-page-001

Leave a comment

Campus Sustainability Committee Supports Student Initiatives in Sustainability

The Campus Sustainability Committee at Western Illinois University is committed to supporting student engagement with sustainability on campus and in their research. In support of this mission, the Student Sustainability Research and Project Development Fund was designated in spring 2014 to support student research, campus projects, and professional presentations in the area of sustainability. Each semester, the committee accepts and reviews applications for student projects, presentations, and research related to sustainability.

In 2014, the committee awarded funding to six of eleven applicants. Successfully funded projects included Payal Shah’s (Biological Sciences) research on the impact of beaver herbivory in floodplain forest communities of the upper Mississippi; Emily Terrell and Dallas Milholland’s (Theatre and Dance) theatrical project to raise awareness about unsustainable mining impacts on Alaskan fisheries, performed in Illinois, Alaska, and Washington; Norris Andriuskevicius’s (RPTA) educational promotion of sustainability principles at the local Earth Fest; and Quenton Keating’s (Economics and Decision Sciences) portable solar-powered charging station for educational demonstrations on campus.

The committee is once again seeking applicants from full- and part-time degree-seeking grads and undergrads from WIU. Up to $500 is available per student awardee per award period. Priority deadline is February 20. For more information, visit

Leave a comment

uTech working towards a greener campus

In the past few years uTech has been making strides in the area of sustainability. Technology is contrary in many ways to being green and sustainable. Large amounts of electricity are consumed by technology, thousands of reams of paper are consumed by printing, wireless devices require batteries, disposal of out-dated equipment, and the need for more (memory, speed, etc.)

Technology is a tool for many but it is so much more. It is a driving force of our society. It drives our communication, our finances, and our lives. That being said, we need to find the best way to deal with our needs for technology and reducing the impact it has on our environment. This post will provide a look into what uTech has been able to do over the past year to help WIU reduce it’s environmental impact.

Efforts have been made to replace out-dated equipment with more efficient technology. From laptops & desktops to servers, drive arrays & mainframe equipment have been replaced with more energy efficient systems.

In the Enterprise area, the Data Center was remodeled last year which included new AC units that can be monitored for efficiency. A new air handling replaced 30 year old equipment and increased the efficiency by more than 40%. A new energy efficient mainframe computer and disk drives were also purchased. There is a power distribution unit (PDU) that now monitors power and VM systems will go to sleep when not in use. They have reduced the number of mainframe printers from 3 to 2. Also over the past several years the Enterprise group has worked to reduce the number of reports that are printed & delivered. In the first year printing was reduced by 40%. This number will continue to improve with the cooperation of the campus community.

The Server team has also been replacing older systems for newer and more efficient systemsCapture. The image to the right shows a significant change in the equipment. In addition the number of servers has been reduced through virtualization. In April of 2014, the team had 7 servers running 150 VMs (virtual machines). This has drastically reduced the number of physical systems we have. As of this fall, 10 old servers have been retired and removed from our systems. The server team has also incorporated distributed power management, meaning that systems are monitored and will shut down when not in use. The number of printers have also been reduced in this area as has printing.

The Network & Telecommunications team has also been working to replace old switches and wireless access points with more efficient equipment. During the summer when residence halls are not being used, equipment is turned off. The University also has a fax server in place rather than replacing fax machines. This server helps reduce printing as well. Telecommunications does phone repairs rather than purchasing new phones.

The Support Center and uTech Labs have been working hard to focus on sustainability. Computer systems are replaced with more efficient systems when needed. The Lab team has one lab that is running virtual desktops, thus reducing the number of CPUs. This number could increase in the future if the program is both sustainable and financially feasible. The biggest change in recent years has been in the area of printing. The labs have been using a print management software package for several years. This system has reduced the amount of printing and waste in our labs. More than 85% of pages were duplexed (printed on both sides of the paper). There were 1,299,946 print jobs submitted last year, 620,191 pages were not printed, saving 4.5 trees (not to mention the toner). Equivalent blub hours of this energy is 103,598.3 hours. Now that is significant! Additional areas have been added to our print management system at the department’s request. It helps people to print more responsibly.

Other initiatives that the Support Center has done are to reduce the number of printers in their area from 7 to 2, and the Support Center technicians are now using one energy efficient Mac with virtual windows instead of having a Mac and a windows system. The Classroom team has been working to replace old equipment with new and more energy efficient equipment. For example the new projectors being purchased have LED bulbs.

All of uTech has been trying to reduce the technological impact of WIU on our environment. Some of these steps seem small and some are big, but all of these steps we have taken, help us to reduce the footprint of technology on campus.

Things you can do to help reduce your technology impact:

  1. Purchase energy efficient equipment
  2. Print less
  3. Tun off systems when not in use
  4. Dispose of equipment and devices responsibly (no e-waste)
  5. Recycle batteries

For additional information about power consumption please see the following sites:

Leave a comment

LEED – Is it a four-letter word?

Depending on who you talk to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) can be a four-letter word. When I was taking classes in the mid-1990s in Engineering Technology, my professors would openly tell the class, “Avoid that hippie environmental crap at all costs! It doesn’t last, it’s cheaply made, and it will cost you more money in the long run.” Unfortunately I think that mentality stuck with many folks along the way and they ask themselves the question, “Why should I pay more money for what is ostensibly the same thing when I know one specific item will work, and the other more-expensive item is unproven?”
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat…LEED does cost more in initial construction. But what are you paying for? Well, you’re not paying for magic dust that saves money. You’re not paying for cheaply-made gimmicks that ultimately look good for a short period of time, and then become un-maintainable. You are investing in a change of mindset. You are asking the contractors who build your building to recycle the cardboard, wood, and metals from the jobsite rather than throwing them in the landfill. You are asking the engineers who design the ventilation to specify components that save thermal energy while constantly bringing in fresh air, thereby saving money, and helping to ensure that the occupants don’t suffer from Sick Building Syndrome. You are asking the architects to specify course carpet fibers at the entrances to help keep dirt and dust from entering the building Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. You are asking manufactures not to use toxic glues when building your new cabinets. It’s not rocket science.
Now there are some people who want to over-simplify LEED. People ask me, “Why can’t we install a solar panel that powers one computer and have that count towards LEED?” LEED states that renewable energy must power a specific percentage of a building’s total use to be considered. In some situations, many variables such as location or the amount of renewable energy make those situations cost prohibitive. LEED is not something to be done simply for the sake of doing it. It’s something that’s done because it makes sense.
I am not saying that LEED is the be-all-end-all, but it is a reasonable process. WIU has stated that all new construction and any significant building renovation will meet at least LEED Silver criteria (LEED criteria ranges from a simple LEED certification to LEED Silver, LEED Gold, and ultimately LEED Platinum which become increasing more expensive the higher up you go.) We have even incorporated LEED standards into our University Design Guidelines. These Design Guidelines serve as a rule book for all design professionals, architects and contractors who complete work on campus. In essence, they must build/remodel/deconstruct to these set of guidelines, in which we provide to them. These standards ensure that even if we are not perusing the LEED official certification, the criteria are being met. Meeting that criteria may cost more in initial construction, but it means a longer more-dependable life of a building that saves money in maintenance and operating costs, while taking into consideration the occupants of the building, as well as the environment. In short, LEED helps us to achieve a balance.

Leave a comment

Horn Field Campus by Mindy Pheiffer

Nine years ago, I was offered the opportunity to become the program coordinator at WIU’s Horn Field Campus. And if you’ve read my colleagues’ prior submissions on this blog, a lot has happened at WIU in these last 9 years with regard to campus sustainability. I feel honored to have been a part of realizing the need for and implementing programs and activities to offer more sustainability education at WIU. : Environmentally minded WIU colleagues came together and began the environmental summit 12 years ago as a way to increase and encourage awareness of the triple bottom line. An RPTA graduate student envisioned it, and it is still carried out in 2014. And while the actions mentioned in the previous entries all sound relatively new in this millennia at WIU, I am only a very small part of carrying forward the legacy that has been “Horn Field Campus” for five decades. Yes, for almost 50 years, the sustainable values have been carried out in practice at the donated property that is a beloved local venue, and also one that has become known for environmental education and leadership development for many decades.

As I write this, I am viewing thirty 6-12 year olds from the Mt. Sterling YMC day camp utilizing this facility for an outing. Like any other group that comes to Horn for teambuilding and challenge course activities, I reviewed the full-value contract that we operate within with these youngsters upon their arrival. I explained that our values are safety, commitment, respect, accountability, and encouragement and we use our five-fingers on our hand to help us remember them throughout their time at Horn. After each value, I ask the youngsters what the value means.   The youngsters answered a couple of the questions referring to taking care of the earth. They were eager to talk about this concept. Then I thought about how most of us, youth and adults alike, do profess that it is important to take care of our environment. And the innocence of the children today reminded me that while we all talk a good talk, how do we help people to walk the talk. I find every day that many visitors to Horn Field Campus have little vision of what sustainability really is besides “recycling”. And most don’t actually know much about the recycling process. So what happens between the years of the innocent youth expressing our need to care for the earth, and the university members who must go out of their way to recycle, let alone think about energy and water consumption and media-driven consumerism. Do we as individuals only really become aware when we have to? I think of my ancestors who wasted nothing because there was nothing to waste. This is the same thinking that goes into maintaining and improving the program and facility at Horn Field Campus for five decades. How do we do it with no operating budget and no custodial or scheduled groundskeeping help? By the shear love and passion of those who believe that if we use our social capital, and are very conscientious of how our self-generated funds are being used, while teaching and taking care of our natural resources, it can happen.

Challenge by choice doesn’t only have to do with ascending the high ropes course. It has everything to do with how each action, each dollar, and each choice we make every day affects those other than us, locally, nationally, globally.

So after almost 50 years of “making due” at Horn Field Campus, it is time to be create awareness and gratitude for all of the people who believe in the importance of the mission of Horn, realize it’s value to the community and support it in as many ways as there are people.

And don’t think that one person’s actions can’t effect future generations….a faculty member from the recreation and park administration department had a vision in the late 1960’s for Horn Field Campus. That one person’s vision began the effort. And still today at Horn, the sun is shining, the birds are singing. It’s a great day to be alive.

AASHE Conference & Expo– Portland, OR

AASHE’s (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) annual conference & expo has opened their early bird registration!

The conference will be held in Portland, Oregon from October 26-29. Early bird registration fees are about $75 cheaper so make sure you get registered soon! Flights from the midwest have been approximately $215 ROUND TRIP!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers