While President Bush harped on switching to alternative fuels during his State of the Union address earlier this week, CSU has been ahead of the curve – as part of the “Green is Gold” campaign, all diesel-powered university vehicles have been running on biodiesel since October.
Biodiesel fuel is essentially vegetable oil that has been recycled and mixed with petroleum to be more energy efficient, burn cleaner and release fewer CO2 emissions. During the warmer months, CSU uses B20 diesel: 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum fuel. During the winter, the facilities staff switches to B5 to prevent fuel clogging.
“The technology is still developing,” said Carol Dollard, a utilities engineer. “We’re working on it.”
For Dollard, the switch to biodiesel was an easy choice.
“This is just one more part of the green package. President Penley has been pushing for CSU to become greener, more environmentally friendly,” Dollard said.
The package includes the Transit Center and Lory Student Center addition and the recent renovation of three now-green classrooms in Guggenheim Hall.
Being environmentally friendly does come at a cost. CSU’s vehicles burn approximately 35,000 gallons of fuel each year, although this year Dollard estimates that number will increase because of the snow. At $20 more per gallon, switching to biodiesel has cost the university approximately $7,000. The Vice President’s Office subsidized the cost of the program for the first year.
However, Gene Stroh, the university’s transportation manager, believes that CSU’s decision to go green will actually save the university money in the long run. Biodiesel is reputed to have better fuel economy, something Stroh will know for sure a year into the program.
“With the high fuel prices and CSU’s desire to become a premier research institution, switching to biodiesel fits right in with the university’s mission,” Stroh said. “We’re also using it to cut down our dependence on foreign oil.”
Stroh hopes that the university’s move to biodiesel will also inspire students to go green as well.
Whether the motive was financial or political, for both Stroh and Dollard, the switch to biodiesel was simply the right thing to do.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look down the road 50 years and see that the Earth is a finite place,” Dollard said. “The way we are living is unsustainable and there needs to be a change. What that change looks like, nobody knows, but it sure doesn’t look like what we’re doing now.”
Staff writer Hilary Davis can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
– When cold, don an extra layer of clothing rather than turning on a space heater.
– When warm, wear lighter weight clothing instead of opening windows.
– Switch computers into “power down” mode instead of screen saver mode to save energy.