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University of Iowa News Release

May 28, 2004

Engineering Students Help UI Meet Kyoto Protocol Emissions Goal

"The Day After Tomorrow" -- Hollywood's latest climate disaster film -- shows people resigned to dealing with a tidal wave, a new Ice Age and other plagues triggered by global warming.

But at the University of Iowa College of Engineering, graduate students in Associate Professor Keri Hornbuckle's air pollution control class and members of Engineers for a Sustainable Future are anything but resigned. Instead, they are helping the UI campus reduce its carbon dioxide and other emissions thought to contribute to global warming.

So far, the students have:

-- Conducted a greenhouse gas emissions analysis using the Clean Air Climate Protection Software developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. (Members of the air pollution control class project group were students Forrest Meggers, Joe Grodecki and Tim Pasakarnis.)

-- Initiated the UI's version of the Kyoto Now! Movement, which began at Cornell University about four years ago and aims to have college campuses meet the goal of the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement designed to reduce greenhouse gases.

-- Built a web site (http://www.engineering.uiowa.edu/~esf/kyoto/) highlighting their project's accomplishments and discussing its potential.

-- Applauded the UI for joining the Chicago Climate Exchange, an organization with the potential to cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 72,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, a 20 percent reduction, by burning oat hulls in place of coal.

"The neat thing about our campus is that we have barely started, yet our UI Facilities Services Group has already begun making progressive moves toward greenhouse gas reductions," says Meggers of Iowa City, a UI civil and environmental engineering graduate student. "Instead of holding demonstrations and demanding reductions like Cornell students did, we made a web site, highlighting what we at the UI have already done and the potential we have to meet the Kyoto Protocol if we support these measures."

Meggers and his colleagues -- engineering students Elliott Campbell of Santa Cruz, Calif., Georgette Stern of Iowa City, Iowa and Marcelo Mena of Chile, and urban and regional planning student Loreto Stambuk of Chile -- say that they hope to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol one person at a time. They hope to do this by educating people about the importance of energy conservation, the Kyoto Protocol, greenhouse gases and the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The UI students note that the same engineering skills that in the past have aggravated some of the world's environmental ills can be used to alleviate the problem. When the problem being tackled is global warming, worldwide air and water quality benefit.

"Considering that U.S. per capita greenhouse gas emissions are 25 times the world average, we do acknowledge that a reduction of seven percent in greenhouse gas emissions will still leave us at emitting 23 times the world average, which is hardly efficient. But it's a start," Mena says. "It's a seed of sustainability that will grow in this fertile Iowa soil."

Says Meggers, "The results of our research show that if we reach UI projections for biomass burning, we will come very close to meeting the Kyoto Protocol on campus so long as the UI also works to use energy more efficiently."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; Project: Forrest Meggers, 319-321-6094 (cell), forrest-meggers@uiowa.edu or csf@engineering.uiowa.edu