Throughout this site, we provide reasons as to why climate change matters and why changing our energy efficiency is the right way to go. Currently, we are working on making energy efficiency a priority for the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Why we Advocate for a Greener Illinois:
The University of Illinois is in a unique position to make a huge impact on decreasing climate change emissions. According to Facilities and Services, the head of all maintenance and grounds management on campus, the Champaign campus consumed over 5 million MMBTU of energy in 2011. To put that in perspective, the average American household consumes only .04MMBTU of energy every year (U.S. Department of Energy, How Much Electricity Does an American Home Use?). The University therefore uses as much energy as 125 million residential homes combined.
The campus’ primary energy usage comes from co-generated steam and natural gas from the Abbott power plant on campus. Coal and natural gas are currently burned to produce steam, which is pushed through pipelines to heat campus buildings. At the same time, some of the steam pushes generators to produce electricity to power electrical needs for campus buildings. The leftover electricity demands are purchased from the grid. Although the University currently is committed to stop burning coal by 2017, they are switching primarily to natural gas in the winter months to create the steam that powers our 7.5 square miles of building space. And even though natural gas produces half the emissions of climate-change causing greenhouse gases, and is also much better for air pollution, natural gas is not the answer to solving climate change. It still emits carbon dioxide when it is burned and therefore still contributes to climate change. The best answer is renewable energy with zero greenhouse gas emissions. Abbott Power Plant is therefore exploring options to burn biomass, like wood pellets, to generate the heat that is needed. However, until we can rely solely on alternative energy sources, we must find ways to use less energy and therefore less fossil fuel.
Climate Change Video and More Resources:
We've recently uploaded some links to various websites to demonstrate how others are taking the initiative to combat climate change. For more information, visit our Resources Page and explore!