Luther College has been selected as one of 21 Iowa organizations and businesses selected to receive an Environmental Excellence award from Gov. Terry E. Branstad next Thursday, June 27, in Des Moines.
The college was awarded Special Recognition in Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy for its work in the field of solar energy. The awards are the premier environmental honors in Iowa.
"It is always rewarding to showcase and celebrate the innovation Iowans exhibit in creating new jobs and protecting our natural resources," said Branstad.
The Luther College Solar project, the largest single solar energy production facility in Iowa, went on line in August of last year and was dedicated in October.
The field of 1,250 solar panels powers Baker Village, an all-electric student housing complex that utilizes geothermal energy for heating and cooling. The 280-kilowatt solar facility is estimated to offset 426,515 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Luther is leasing the solar array from Decorah Solar Field, LLC, which is owned by Decorah resident Larry Grimstad.
This project is part of Luther's aggressive zero-carbon-footprint goal. The college is committed to reducing its campus carbon footprint 50 percent by the end of 2015 and 70 percent by 2020, and to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Through investments in energy efficiency projects, the installation of a 1.6-megawatt wind turbine, the use of biofuels and electric cars, serving local foods in its cafeteria (estimated at 30 percent this year) and numerous other environmental initiatives, Luther has reduced its carbon footprint by 33 percent.
In addition to rewarding important efforts to improve Iowa's natural resources, Branstad noted that highlighting success stories benefits other businesses and organizations in the state.
Innovation is one of the key components needed to reach important state goals of creating 200,000 new jobs, increasing personal income by 25 percent in the state and promoting Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative, Branstad said.
Award recipients include:
Environmental Excellence Award: City of Clinton, Des Moines Public Schools,
Lennox Industries, Inc., Marshalltown; RDG, Des Moines; Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, Centerville.
Special Recognition in Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy: Fairfield's Hometown Rewards Program, Fairfield; Luther College, Decorah; John Deere Dubuque Works, Dubuque.
Special Recognition in Water Quality: Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District, Waterloo; QuikTrip Corporation, Tulsa, Okla.; Plymouth County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, LeMars.
Special Recognition in Waste Management: City of LeMars; Van's Sanitation & Recycling and Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency, LeMars; West Liberty Foods, L.L.C., West Liberty; Community Kitchen of North Iowa, Inc., Waterloo; Allied Blending & Ingredients, Keokuk.
Special Recognition in Air Quality: QuikTrip Corporation, Tulsa, Okla.; Special Recognition in Habitat Restoration: Fishers and Farmers Fish Habitat Partnership, Ankeny; ITC Midwest, LLC, Cedar Rapids.
Special Recognition in Environmental Education: Linn County Conservation & Partners, Toddville;
Dowling Catholic Environmental Science, Des Moines; Women, Food and Agriculture Network, Ames.
The awards are sponsored by the Governor's Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.
For more information about the Governor's Iowa Environmental Excellence Awards, visit iowadnr.gov/eeawards.