ISU harnesses the power of the wind
Published: Friday, January 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 11, 2013 00:01
Indiana State University installed its first wind turbine, an 18-foot vertical tower that generates up to 11,000 kilowatts per year, just shortly before winter break 2012. Last semester, students could be seen all over campus calculating wind speeds to determine the most beneficial spot for the turbine.
After analyzing more than 50 places, Sycamore Towers was selected as the location for this estimated $50,000 project. The wind turbine came to life through the collaboration between professors teaching and students taking environmental sciences classes.
“Students have been contributing to this project for more than two years,” said Jim Speer, associate professor of earth and environmental systems. “Over 400 students in Environmental Science 110: Introduction to Environmental Sciences conducted the data collection to find the best locations for the wind turbine. Students from the Environmental Science 460: Conservation and Sustainability of Natural Resources class also conducted research on the potential location and energy production of the turbine.”
As part of the university’s “Climate Action Plan,” adopted in September 2010, the wind turbine is one step toward carbon neutrality, which means the university will have a net zero carbon footprint. Developed by 60 ISU faculty and staff, the Climate Action Plan creates and implements ways for ISU to operate more sustainably.
“[The wind turbine] provides a symbol of ISU’s commitment to sustainability,” Speer said. “It provides clean energy for the campus, although we estimate it will only provide about five percent of the Condit House’s energy needs, for example. It also provides equipment that our students can use to study technology and data that is collected through time.”
Last semester, ISU’s Institute for Community Sustainability announced a turbine-naming contest. With a winner not yet selected, the institute extended the deadline into spring 2013.
The winner will be announced and a prize given during the dedication. Submissions can be given at http://unboundedpossibilities.com/institute-for-community-sustainability/campus/wind-turbine.aspx.
Speer hopes to see more turbines on campus in the university’s near future.
“If students vote to approve the small sustainability fee of $0.50 per credit hour, that would provide enough funds for two or three more wind turbines in just the coming year,” he said.