Dorms see environmentally friendly changes


Though going green has been a priority for UI Facilities Management in the past, its most recent steps have grabbed the attention of UI students.

This semester, workers are installing environmentally friendly light bulbs and brand-new hand dryers in residence halls, among other initiatives.

High-tech Dyson Airblade hand dryers — which cost $900 each — are being installed in restrooms and do not require heat, unlike old-fashioned hand dryers that use electricity to warm up a coil.

The Airblade dryer blasts high-velocity air at nearly 400 miles per hour through an opening the width of an eyelash, typically drying hands in just about 12 seconds.

“Towels for a 300-day year cost around $1,200,” said Steven Fausch, a manager in maintenance services. “The Dysons cost $26 to operate” each year.

The only visible downside, Fausch said, is the unit’s initial cost.

“I think it’s money well-spent,” he said. “We’re looking at a long-term investment — they could run well for 20 years.”

One of this semester’s other new initiatives is replacing campus lighting with more eco-friendly options.

“We use reduced indoor lighting in the evenings in Stanley and Rienow,” Fausch said. “We deactivate every third light. The Residence Life people love it — it tends to reduce rowdy behavior; that’s our theory.”

The initiative Fausch is working on is switching the use of incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Facility workers are replacing the bulbs as they burn out.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use two-thirds less energy than the bulbs previously used.
Kate Fitzgerald, an assistant director of University Housing, said students have responded well to the lighting changes. She noted this year’s recycling program in Quadrangle has also been successful with residents.

Along with dimming indoor lighting, Fausch said, he is also looking to replace outdoor floodlights — which light large areas outside of buildings — with more energy-efficient light emitting diode light bulbs.

“The LEDs provide substantial energy savings,” Fausch said. “LED seems to be the next big thing. They’re 100 times more efficient than the incandescent light bulb.”

Facility workers are also taking advantage of a new way to monitor the residence hall heating systems. One operator on each side of the river owns a Blackberry equipped to control the heating and cooling system in dorm rooms and offices. Facility workers are able to handle temperature-change requests sent to the phones as soon as they are received.

“An alarm goes to the Blackberry. You have the ability to manage the problem remotely,” Fausch said. “We’re building on automation to automatically start temperature changes.”

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