As the saying goes, "Out of sight, out of mind."
Yet for Jim Hannon '84, St. Ambrose physical plant director, finding new ways to conserve resources is always top of mind, even if evidence of those initiatives throughout campus is subtle. Their impact, however, is growing.
For example, the 19 underground retention tanks around campus, capable of holding 45,000 gallons of storm runoff, are largely concealed beneath aesthetic rock gardens. During the summer, groundskeepers pull as much as 1,500 gallons a week from the tanks to water flower beds and plantings.
More apparent to the naked eye are projects such as replacing the PE Center's black roof with a white one to reflect heat. In a bit of creative recycling, Hannon used the rock from the old roof to cover some of the storm water tanks.
Other green efforts on campus, while basic, have cumulative effects, saving St. Ambrose thousands of dollars annually: low-flow showerheads in residence halls, low-energy light bulbs replacing regular bulbs, and energy management systems on many facilities' heating and air-conditioning units.
And the new residence/academic facility going up on the west side of campus has gotten another kind of the "green" light, with the use of recycled building materials in its construction, among other efficiencies.
Hannon says new ways to conserve energy and shrink St. Ambrose's carbon footprint—even as the campus grows—are being implemented every year.
"It just makes good ethical sense to continually ask, 'What are we doing to conserve our natural resources?'" he says.