Branstad awards UI for sustainability efforts

Energy conservation measures save the University of Iowa roughly $5.1 million annually, according to UI Facilities Management. (University of Iowa)

Nick Fetty | July 10, 2015

The University of Iowa’s use of miscanthus as a fuel source has gained the attention of Governor Branstad.

On Thursday, the four-term Iowa governor announced that his office was awarding UI Facilities Management the “Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award” with emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award is given annually to a handful of Iowa businesses and governmental institutions for efforts made to adopt environmentally sustainable strategies and preserve the state’s natural resources.

The UI was recognized because of its Biomass Fuel Project which utilizes miscanthus and other renewable fuel sources for the UI’s power plant which provides electricity and steam for the campus. The first miscanthus fields were planted in 2013 and today the UI maintains more than 350 acres of the Asian perennial tall grass. Through the use of miscanthus and other methods, university officials hope to achieve 40 percent renewable energy consumption by 2020.

Other award recipients include the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines and the National Wild Turkey Federation in Edgefield as well as school districts in Cedar Rapids and Guthrie Center.

Branstad will formally present the awards during a ceremony in Des Moines on August 4.

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