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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is the first comprehensive university in the state to receive Energy Conservation Funding to support the institution’s sustainability efforts. The $2.3 million authorization is part of a $14 million package approved today by the Wisconsin State Building Commission that supports several facilities projects, including an $8.8-million renovation of and addition to Elmwood Commons and $3 million for maintenance and repair of existing facilities.

UW Oshkosh, one of four state university campuses charged by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle to become energy independent by 2012, was one of the first universities in the country to complete a carbon footprint survey. The comprehensive carbon footprint analysis conducted in 2008 included a rigorous inventory of emissions from each emissions source, allowing the University to determine the most cost-effective way to attain carbon neutrality.

“As Wisconsin continues to move toward energy independence, bringing public buildings up to the highest energy efficiency and green standards will continue to be crucial in developing and sustaining energy independence,” said Chancellor Richard H. Wells.

“This grant will allow us to continue to make progress toward reducing our carbon footprint and continue to review our conservation efforts, invest in new technology and work to reduce our energy consumption,” added Tom Sonnleitner, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs. “Ultimately, however, the state’s investment in these efforts will result in significant dividends by reducing the amount spent on energy for the campus, while continuing our commitment to sustainability.”

In addition to the grant, two other campus capital projects will feature state-of-the art environmental features. This fall, the University will begin work on an $8.8-million renovation of and addition to the former Elmwood Commons to create a one-stop Student Academic Support, Development and Referral Center. It will be Wisconsin’s largest public building to feature a ground source geothermal system, which takes advantage of moderate temperatures in the earth to provide heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. The renovation is expected to reduce annual energy costs by 38 percent in comparison to the Wisconsin Building Code.

“This project demonstrates how a building not only can be renovated to meet modern needs, but also can be designed to be significantly more efficient than existing structures,” Sonnleitner said. “We hope to be able to continue that effort across campus and continue to reduce the University’s impact on the environment.”

The project was a joint collaboration among UW Oshkosh students, who requested an all-in-one facility; the state, which funded the renovation and addition; and Student Affairs, which donated the building.

“Our students saw the need to invest in and enhance academic support programs such as advising, tutoring, career development and counseling and voted in 2003 to fund these initiatives through differential tuition,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Petra Roter.

“Differential tuition provides an infusion of approximately $1 million into those programs. This investment by our students and the University has resulted in significant expansion and use of these programs and services by our students, and these programs have outgrown their spaces. This new facility accommodates for this dramatic growth with state-of-the-art facilities that will be able to better serve our students,” she said.

The campus also will break ground Sept.15 on a new academic center. The $48.3-million, 175,000-square-foot building will be built to gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, making it one of the state’s most environmentally friendly and efficient buildings of its kind.

“I want to extend our campus community’s great appreciation to Gov. Jim Doyle and members of the Wisconsin State Building Commission, especially representatives Gordon Hintz and Dean Kaufert,” Wells said. “These two area legislators have worked very hard to help ensure that the residents of Northeast Wisconsin’s New North obtain their fair share of capital funding for the region’s higher educational needs.

“We also want to acknowledge the excellent job Department of Administration Division Administrator David Helbach and UW System staff members Tom Anderes and David Miller are doing managing the complex financial and budget planning related to our and other University of Wisconsin universities’ capital building projects. Finally, the outstanding support of UW System President Kevin Reilly and the Board of Regents, especially the work of the Capital Planning and Budget Committee, chaired by Regent Jeffrey Bartell, is much appreciated.

For more information about UW Oshkosh’s sustainability plan, visit

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