Committee created as a way to increase sustainability at Iowa State


The University Sustainability Committee, chaired by William Gutowski, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, will work with and build off the efforts of existing campus groups involved in sustainability efforts.

Logan Metzger

As part of a resolution made two years ago, Iowa State has created a committee focusing on sustainability.

Iowa State has established a new university committee to improve sustainability on campus. The University Sustainability Committee is a group charged with developing a set of recommendations that will increase energy efficiency, energy conservation and use of renewable energy with the goal of moving the campus toward carbon neutrality.

The Faculty Senate first recommended the creation of a sustainability committee as part of a 2018 resolution on climate change.

“We therefore resolve that Iowa State University makes a commitment to moving toward carbon neutrality as an institution and assumes a leadership role in promoting carbon neutrality in Iowa and the nation,” according to the resolution.

Student Government approved a similar resolution in 2019. Both resolutions acknowledge the university’s past and current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and outline a number of additional actions necessary for the university to achieve carbon neutrality.

The Faculty Senate defined carbon neutrality as meaning: balancing the carbon released by our university with an equivalent amount removed or sequestered from the atmosphere.

The University Sustainability Committee, chaired by William Gutowski, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, will work with other sustainability efforts on campus like the Live Green initiative.

Joining chairman Gutowski on the committee are:

Robert Brown, distinguished professor of the Bioeconomy Institute.

Brianna Burke, associate professor of English.

Bob Currie, director of facilities services.

Kelsie Ferin, graduate student of agronomy.

Kristine Heflin, associate director of the Memorial Union.

Mark Kruse, director of utilities enterprise.

Paul Lasley, professor of sociology.

Dan Loy, director of the Iowa Beef Center and the Agriculture and Life Sciences Administration.

Ruth MacDonald, assistant dean of food science and human nutrition.

Peter Orazem, university professor of economics.

Merry Rankin, director of the Office of Sustainability and program manager for facilities planning and management.

Mark Rasmussen, director of Agriculture and Life Sciences Administration.

Karen Rodekamp, program coordinator for Campus Dining Services.

Ian Searles, senior in geology.

Toni Sleugh, junior in biology and chapter chair of Climate Reality.

Eugene Takle, emeritus professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and department of agronomy.

James Tener, associate teaching professor of music and theatre.

Izabel Wilde, senior in community and regional planning.

Jeff Witt, director of utilities services.

Creating the sustainability committee was just one action of an eight-action list in the Faculty Senate resolution. The list of actions is as follows:

To work with facilities planning and management to increase energy efficiency, energy conservation and use of renewable energy.

To replace high pollution energy sources with lower or no carbon fuel sources.

To continue to review all new construction and renovation projects so that they are ecologically sustainable and achieve “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” standards.

To continue to review older buildings on campus and update them for energy efficiency.

To continue Iowa State’s efforts to make transportation to and around campus easier, to limit single-occupancy vehicles, encourage increased faculty use of CyRide and to support electric vehicles with charging stations.

To continue to initiate strategies addressing energy demand reduction on campus, including implementing educational and behavioral change programs and supporting student-led action.

To actively encourage the ISU Foundation and other campus and non-campus organizations involved in making decisions regarding the investment of our capital funds to invest in firms that meet criteria for environmental sustainability.

The eighth action of the resolution is what set the stage for creating the committee.

To create a University Sustainability Group to monitor the progress toward achieving the targets and ideas set forth in this resolution with membership from administration, faculty and students. This group should build on and coordinate with the work of other existing sustainability groups on campus and work with the Office of Sustainability programs at facilities planning and management.

This group should also work with Iowa State climate researchers and sustainability experts to define carbon neutrality as a measurable concept in order to track their progress in achieving Iowa State’s goal.