Julia Poska | January 1, 2020
In 2010, former University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced the 2020 Vision: The University of Iowa’s Sustainability Targets. It laid out out sustainability goals to reach within the next decade, which began today.
The goals were as follows:
1. Become a Net‐negative Energy Consumer
This goal indicated that the university should consume less energy in 2020 than it did in 2010, despite projected growth. Building energy consumption reports from The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) indicate energy energy consumption growth from 2005 to 2013 and 2013 to 2018. A 2018 presentation to the campus faculty council, though, provided data indicated that energy consumption was below the baseline, if baseline included projected consumption for new buildings.
2. Green Our Energy Portfolio
The document indicated that the University would consume 40% renewable energy in 2020. Since 2010, the university has increased production of energy through renewable biomass sources like oat hulls and miscanthus grass in the on-campus power plant. A 2018 presentation to the campus faculty council reported 17% renewable energy in 2017.
3. Decrease Our Production of Waste
This goal indicated that the university would “divert” (meaning recycle or compost” 60% of waste by 2020. The Office of Sustainability has since implemented a “tiny trash” program to encourage recycling and a dorm room composting program. The most recent data, for 2017, indicates a 38% diversion rate.
4. Reduce the Carbon Impact of Transportation
The university aimed to reduce per-capita fossil fuel emissions from campus transportation methods by 10%. A 2018 report to the university’s staff council reported a 14% reduction in per-capita transportation emissions, due in part to the campus’s fleet of electric vehicles and solar charging station.
5. Increase Student Opportunities to Learn and Practice Principles of Sustainability
6. Support and Grow Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainability‐focused and Related Areas
7. Develop Partnerships to Advance Collaborative Initiatives, both Academic and Operational
The last three goals provided qualitative measures, more difficult to measure and assess directly. The university undoubtedly provides sustainability opportunities for students, in both practice and research, and has fostered numerous collaborative initiatives.
Stay tuned over the next 364 days to see whether these goals are fully met.