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 www.istc.illinois.edu/info/govs_awards_prev_winners.cfm#.