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

March 13, 2009

First loans awarded for energy conservation proposals

by Anne Krapfl

The first two loans from the university's Live Green revolving loan fund received final approval last week. Loans will help Monona County Extension make energy improvements to its office building and the College of Design replace most of the lighting system in the original parts of its building.

The $3 million Live Green fund, announced in November, provides interest-free loans for university projects that promote energy conservation and sustainability and provide a return on the investment. Up to $1 million can be awarded during this fiscal year, said Merry Rankin, director of sustainability programs. According to program rules, the loans must be repaid within five years, preferably from energy savings achieved. If the anticipated payback isn't realized within that time, the applying department must repay the loan from internal funds.

"We're excited to get the Live Green revolving loan fund off to such a great start with these two projects," president Gregory Geoffroy said, "and I want to congratulate Monona County Extension and our College of Design for being the first to have projects funded. I'm sure there will be many more projects brought forward as we work to make our facilities more energy-efficient and our lifestyles more 'green.'"

Rankin said the loan program has no preset application deadlines; applications are reviewed any time they are received. Live Green loans can be used in conjunction with other grants, she said. The $100,000 loan cap was lifted this week.

"Folks should not be afraid to think outside the box in making use of this loan fund," Rankin said. "Lighting and renovations are always good projects. But don't discount things like power strips, Energy Star products or cleaning supplies. And think about multi-year possibilities."

ISU Extension, Monona County

After 17 years as a tenant, the Monona County Extension district recently purchased its office building in Onawa (west central Iowa). ISU Extension housing specialist Lois Warme helped develop a remodeling plan for the building with energy efficiency improvements to:

  • Install programmable thermostats
  • Replace lights with energy-efficient fluorescent lights
  • Lower ceilings (and heating/AC ducts) by two feet
  • Install an outdoor light timer
  • Replace the water heater with a more efficient model

The expected annual energy savings is $1,046, so the approved loan amount is $5,230; a little less than the $7,000 requested.

College of Design

As part of the planning for the College of Design addition three years ago, designers also developed several proposals for energy savings in the existing six-story building. Because of the curriculum it supports, the building is used around the clock all week. One of the recommendations focused on lighting and is the basis of a two-phased loan proposal.

Over two years, the project adds occupancy sensors to all classrooms, computer labs and storage and conference rooms; and retrofits classrooms, computer labs, faculty and departmental offices, shops and restrooms with high-performance "Super T8" fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts. The project also adds special "daylight" controls in studios and classrooms with exterior windows that make better use of natural light.

The estimated project cost is $293,000. The college has requested and will receive a $100,000 loan this year and another in FY10. The expected annual savings is $37,092, with loan repayment of the two phases anticipated in a little over nine years.

How it works

For those who think they don't have the time or expertise to develop an energy proposal, think again. Here's how the application process works:

  1. The Live Green loan fund committee reviews incoming applications.
  2. Facilities planning and management staff do a technical analysis of the scope, cost and payback of proposed projects. With that analysis in hand, applicants decide if they want to proceed with their projects.
  3. The loan fund committee makes recommendations for funding to Geoffroy.
  4. Upon the president's approval, the committee awards loans and works with applicants to develop action plans to carry out their projects.
  5. Loan recipients provide semiannual progress reports on their projects until their loans are repaid.

Rankin also said units in a shared building shouldn't count themselves out.

"Don't think it can't be done. There could be considerable savings in a project for everybody," she said. "I encourage people to look into it, and to contact me if you have any questions."

Details about the loan program are online. Or for more information, contact Rankin, 4-5052.

Live Green!

More information on Iowa State's "Live Green!" initiative is online.


"Lighting and renovations are always good projects. But don't discount things like power strips, Energy Star products or cleaning supplies. And think about multi-year possibilities."

Merry Rankin