Columns, Opinion

Project Green Challenge: Centering the focus on energy

By Jasmine Bylander

Whether we live on campus or not we all use the electricity here. We charge our phones and watch television while eating meals. But have you ever wondered where it all comes from?

I did, so I dug deep, talked to many different people including the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Planning and Operations. They answered some of my questions, but it was not until I got online and found an article about the renovations the campus underwent a couple years ago that I finally found what I was looking for.

University Of Central Missouris Power

At UCM, we get our electricity from a power plant in Kansas City. It is the main energy producer for most of this side of the state. Producing all that power takes a toll on the environment. According to, this plant uses about 30 percent more coal than the national average. It also produces 414 lbs/MWh more carbon dioxide than the national average. By using more coal and producing more carbon dioxide, this plant is destroying fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gasses. Power plants also use large amounts of water to produce steam and cool down equipment and they  produce large amounts of waste that can often be hazardous.  Luckily for us, UCM decided it wanted to become more eco-friendly and use less energy, so, in the spring of 2009, it did some renovations.

What Changed

UCM made an energy savings contract (ESCO) with Trane in spring 2009 to start creating a greener environment for the students. The project was scheduled to be completed in spring 2011 but was completed six months ahead of schedule. Some of the changes made included the installation of 150 geothermal wells for high-efficiency heating and cooling of three main buildings on campus, new windows and roofs on some buildings, installing high-efficiency lighting throughout the campus and the replacement of outdated boiler systems with a green, sustainable geothermal heat pump system. Overall these changes  save UCM around $800,000 annually on electricity.

Why Change?

While saving the environment is a fantastic reason by itself, there were other reasons for the update. By updating the systems and adding a campus-wide building automation system, it became easier to control everything and save money. There was also a huge push from students. In 2008, a Princeton Review survey stated that more students were looking for green campuses. Along with that, there was a “Green America’s Schools” report that showed test scores were improving in high-performance classroom settings.

What Is Going to Happen Now?

Even though all of these upgrades have done a lot, the university is not done yet according to the Office of Sustainability. UCM is working with the city for grants to start a city composting area. They are planning to base the model off of MU’s composting setup. They were very helpful and seemed super excited about these plans and are hoping on making this campus as environmentally friendly as possible.

What Can You Do?

The university needs the students to participate in keeping the campus green. We as students can do many different activities to show our support. Start by unplugging unused electronics, recycling and keeping the grounds clean. There are many volunteer opportunities around campus and in the community. Get out there and make the world a better place to learn and live.

Check out Project Green Challenges at

Reach out to the Office of Sustainability on their Facebook at

UCM has volunteer opportunities available at

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