Working Groups

Buildings & Energy

Programs & Resources

The IU Office of Sustainability is working through various programs to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions on campus. Students and staffs drive important efforts to improve energy efficiency, raise awareness among students, and integrate energy consumption and sustainability across the University.

Read more about current initiatives below. Also look into the resources provided to learn more about energy efficiency, data, and sustainability leadership. Many initiatives are also related to other sustainability efforts on campus.

IU Energy Challenge

Back to top

The purpose of the IU Energy Challenge is to instill conservation habits in participants. It rewards participants for making small behavior changes that, when performed collectively, can substantially decrease Indiana University’s environmental impact.

In 2016, the IU Energy Challenge continues and is further extended for the whole semester for some residence halls.

Each building competes against a usage baseline, an average of electricity and water usage for their building. Electricity usage carries twice the composite weight of water usage. The combined water (33%) and electricity (66%) usage makes up the composite usage for each building. Weekly, our utilities team records both the water and electricity usage of each building. These recordings are compared to the buildings’ baselines. The buildings that reduce their water and electricity usage by the highest percentage are crowned as winners of the Energy Challenge.

The following table displays the savings until 2014 from the Energy Challenge over the past few years. It only includes estimates for the 3-4 week period that the challenges ran for and not the extended savings that occurred after the challenges ended.

Type of SavingsUnit Amount
Electricity (kW)3,501,986 kW
Water (gallons)8,227,001 gallons
Money (dollars)$210,119

Back to top

Indiana University is constantly assessing the economic feasibility of incorporating more renewable energy sources on campus. Due to the increasing technological feasibility and competitiveness of renewable energy sources, the numbers vary rapidly over time.

Geothermal - Thermal energy generated and stored in the earth can be made useful either for heating or for electricity production.

To replace the capacity of the Central Heating Plant and Central Chilled Water Plant with Geothermal wells, IU would require:

- 389,292,000 BTU's of heating capacity
- 21,627 wells, 300 feet deep, and 20 feet apart
- 198.6 acres or 150 football fields

Picture of a house with a geothermal system installed.

Solar - There are two types of commonly used solar energy:

Solar photovoltaic: Solar cells create electricity by converting photons of light to electricity. An example are the panels on top of the Indiana Memorial Union.

Since IUB pays much of its electricity bill for the times when demand is highest ("peak load"), solar energy could contribute to reducing these high costs ("peak shaving"). To meet peak electric load on campus, IUB would need the following for the installation of photovoltaic panels:

-40 MW of capacity
- Covering every IU roof top would supply 17% of the needed capacity
- The remaining needs would require 55 acres or 42 football fields

A picture of a photovoltaic solar array on a house roof top.

Solar thermal: Solar water heating is the conversion of sunlight energy for water heating using a solar thermal collector. The hot water is needed and used in the building for the locker rooms, kitchen, bathrooms, and dining facilities. Various residence halls have solar collectors on their roofs. To meet the domestic hot water demands of IUB, the campus would need:

- 529 MMBTU for one day of domestic hot water

- 458,539 square feet of panels required

- This would require 11 acres or 8 football fields

A picture of a domestic hot water solar system.

Wind -Wind turbines use the air flow to generate mechanically power electricity generation.

Wind turbines require an average of 13 mph winds and the Bloomington area averages 5 mph winds. If the wind farm was located in South Bend, the following would need to be installed:

 - 40 MW of capacity requiring 20 wind turbines
- 98.84 acres or 75 football fields

A graph depicting the average wind speeds in Southern Indiana and Northern Indiana.


Back to top

IU Physical Plant has been working on numerous retrocommissioning projects in buildings on campus. These projects include installing energy efficient lights, thermostat upgrade work, replacing hot and chilled water valves, control changes to the HVAC system, and cleaning of ventilators. The following charts display the electricity savings upon completion of these projects.

Chart displaying electricity usage of Swain West.

Chart displaying electricity usage of Geological Sciences Building.

Chart displaying electricity usage of Kelley Undergraduate Business building.

IU has also started to improve the infrastructure of campus, which includes replacing steam and condensate pipes. This helps improve the overall efficiency of the system and thereby reduces heat loss and saves energy.

Utilities Information Group

Back to top

The Utility Information Group locates, meters and documents all utility activity for campus water, steam, gas and electric on the IUB campus. They are also involved in a variety of energy conservation efforts such as:

  • Building Metering

  • Peak Load Program

  • Energy Dashboard Displays

External Resources

Back to top

There are a multitude of other groups working to address energy and the built environment. Here are a few resources for further education and learning.

Energy Matters App

This app helps you track IU's energy consumption, allowing you to evaluate live data per building. Pay attention to the energy use today compared to a day on the weekend - do you notice any changes?

Facility Operations at Indiana University

The Utilities division is responsible for all of the utilities on campus. This includes electricity, steam heating, chilled water, air conditioning, drinking water, and sanitary and storm sewage. The Utilities Information Group just completed a three year project on installing electricity and water meters on mostinterns at heating plant buildings on campus. Facility Operations website.


The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is helping to create a brighter future of opportunity for all by advancing sustainability in higher education. By creating a diverse community engaged in sharing ideas and promising practices, AASHE provides administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as the business that serve them with valuable resources.
Similar organizations include:U.S. Green Building Council,SecondNature, SolutionGeneration

Energy Information Administration

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.