Greener pastures: Luther College harvests years of ecofriendly ventures

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From an article by Joe Orso in the La Crosse Tribune:

DECORAH, Iowa — Luther College is blooming as an environmentally friendly campus, but the seeds were planted many years ago.

The 46,000 trees planted during Earth Week in 1990, the prairie grasses that have been restored and many other projects have played a part in the college’s greening.

But standing on a hill in the heart of campus — from where one could see both the woodlands and prairie grasses — Jon Jensen pointed to something new: an anemometer tower about 150-feet tall that has been measuring wind speed for about two years. One day, the data from the measurements might be used to build a wind turbine to generate energy for the college.

“We’re trying to incorporate ideas of sustainability into everything we do — into the education of our students, into the way we run our physical plant, into the way we build new buildings, into the way we run our land,” said Jensen, director of environmental studies program since 2003.

As he stood on the hill behind Dahl Centennial Union, men from facilities services arrived, loaded a barrel of waste vegetable oil from the cafeteria onto their truck and hauled it away. The next day, they’d convert it to biodiesel to run lawn equipment. . . .

The push to go green “has had a significant impact” at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said Matt Lewis, director of campus planning and facilities management.