An Earth Day Fair is scheduled for midday today outside the University of Northern Iowa’s Student Union. Eric O’Brien, UNI’s sustainability coordinator, says the Cedar Falls campus has an ongoing effort underway to upgrade the energy efficiency of its buildings.
O’Brien says, “It’s amazing how things such as changing out light fixtures can look like they cost a lot of money but within a number of months, based on the amount of electricity we’re using, we can save that amount of money associated with it and continue to save more and more money each year after that.”
The lighting in the UNI-Dome has undergone major renovation to lower the carbon footprint. “Two years ago, we were working with some of the original lights still from when the facility was put in in the late 70s,” O’Brien says. “That was all upgraded and it’s amazing, not only is it a better light quality but we’re also saving a lot of energy.”
Today’s Earth Day Fair at UNI runs from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. and will highlight projects like that one at the UNI-Dome while also providing the opportunity to get some dirt under your fingernails. “Some of the things we’re doing are allowing students, faculty and staff to plant plants that are going to be transferred into our student-run garden,” O’Brien says. “Produce that’s produced from those shows up in our UNI dining center, it’s sold on campus at a small farmers produce stand and there’s also some donated to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.”
That garden offers a cornucopia of veggies, including: tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and all types of greens. Also, student groups in the UNI College of Business Administration are combining the virtues of sustainability, service and global awareness by raising funds to plant trees in areas of Cedar Falls that were damaged by floods in 2008. The goal is to plant 4,000 hardwood seedlings.