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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Nov. 7, 2008

New loan fund will bankroll energy-saving ideas

by Diana Pounds

Got an energy-saving idea for the office that will pay for itself within five years? With the help of a newly created loan fund, you can put your idea into practice.

The $3 million Live Green Revolving Loan Fund will provide interest-free loans for campus projects that promote energy conservation and sustainability and provide a return on the investment.

Departments and other units will use their subsequent energy savings to repay the loan fund. As the loan fund is replenished, the money will become available for more energy conservation projects on campus.

The loan fund is a key piece of the Live Green! initiative, a university-wide effort to turn Iowa State into a national model of energy efficiency.

"We have high hopes for the Live Green loan fund," said president Gregory Geoffroy. "Faculty, staff and students are excited about Live Green! efforts and already have offered many good suggestions. This fund will help them put some of those ideas into action.

"Ultimately, we believe the Live Green loan fund will help us decrease greenhouse emissions and reduce operating expenses by lowering energy costs."

Apply now

Employees can begin seeking loans for energy-saving projects in their departments now, said Dave Miller, chair of the Live Green loan fund and director of facilities planning and management operations. "Loan requests can range from very small amounts to $100,000," he said.

ISU officials anticipate loaning up to $1 million for energy-saving projects during the first year (FY09) of the program. The loans must be repaid within five years. If the anticipated payback isn't realized within that time, the applying department must repay the loan from internal funds.

Start with the basics

Miller advises those who are looking for ways to save energy in their offices to "start with the basics, the kinds of things you do in your home." These include, for example, using more efficient lights and equipment (see list at right).

Miller said he anticipates ISU employees will come up with creative ideas for saving energy in their units. Those successes will be shared with the university community.

More information on the loan program and an application form can be downloaded from If you have questions about the application process, contact Miller at Loan applications will be considered by the Live Green Loan Fund Advisory Committee.

How the loan process works

Iowa State's sustainability director will review incoming applications. Next, FP&M staff will do a technical analysis of the scope, cost and payback of proposed projects. With FP&M's figures in hand, applicants will determine if they want to proceed with their projects.

The Live Green loan fund committee then will award loans to selected projects, and action plans will be developed to carry out those projects. Applicants of winning projects will provide semi-annual progress reports on their projects until loans have been repaid.


Sure-fire energy savers

  • Replace basic thermostats with programmable ones. (Call FP&M first to make sure your building doesn't have sensor-controlled temperatures.)
  • Install occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on and off in infrequently used areas, such as restrooms, break rooms and vending areas.
  • Install daylight control sensors that shut off lights when the sun is streaming in.
  • Add extra light switches in areas that don't need all the lights on all the time.
  • Switch to more efficient fluorescent lamps. If your fluorescent lamps are 1-1/4 inches in diameter, they're not very efficient. Look for the 3/4-inch diameter lamps. Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent (CF) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
  • Buy energy-efficient electronics and appliances such as computers, monitors and copiers. (Look for the Energy Star designation.) A lab cooler that is 20 percent more efficient than your old one will pay for itself in five years.