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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

November 30, 2005 Campus Newsletter

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/media/newsletter/2005-11-30/

$500,000 for Renewable Energy

wind generatorMinnesota State Mankato and Minnesota West Community and Technical College have been awarded $500,000 in federal funds for renewable energy research and a wind generator maintenance training program.

The funds are part of the 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act (H.R. 2419). The bill was approved by the U.S. Senate Nov. 14, with both Sens. Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman voting yes. The bill now goes to the White House, where President George Bush is expected to sign it.

The $500,000 will fund three programs at Minnesota State Mankato and Minnesota West:

  • Development of a customized training program for technicians who service wind generators;
  • Continued research into a viable process to convert cellulose into ethanol;
  • Continued research to find more efficient blends of alternate fuels for internal combustion engines.

"All of our representatives and senators have been very supportive of this project," said John Frey, dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology.

The research initiative will be led by the Minnesota Center for Renewable Energy. The Center seeks to expand energy alternatives by developing new methods for using renewable fuels, including wind energy.

Winter Air Pollution Precautions

picture of smoke in the airThis past summer Minnesota experienced several episodes of poor air quality that were announced through the Air Pollution Alert system. Most of these occurrences happened in the Twin Cities, but Mankato also has experienced episodes.

Many were caused by ozone, which requires hot, sunny weather to form. In this season of cooler weather, the risk of air pollution alerts caused by ozone drops dramatically, but the risk for poor air quality from air particles remains strong. In fact, the highest air alert readings recorded in Minnesota for a sustained event occurred between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, 2005. The air quality was in the "unhealthy for all" category, with AQI readings above 150.

To help address this problem, in 2004 Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued Executive Order 04-08, requiring state departments to reduce air pollution in their daily operations. The governor also asked that state agencies inform employees of air pollution alerts, and provide information to employees about how they can bring prevent pollution in their homes.

The Governor's Executive Order will affect you in two ways:

First, when air alerts are issued, you will be notified of precautions that should be taken to protect your health, as well as actions you can take at work and at home to reduce the intensity of the episode and help protect the health of others. Examples of actions that can significantly reduce air pollution during an episode include minimizing or delaying driving, use of lawn mowers or leaf blowers, painting with solvent-based paints and refueling vehicles.

Second, Minnesota State Mankato has committed to reducing our contribution to air pollution by implementing the following measures, and you may be asked to play a role:

  • Purchase or lease the most fuel-efficient and least polluting vehicles that fleet the operational needs of the state department;
  • Refuel state-operated vehicles with the cleanest fuel available;
  • Encourage employees to consider alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle commuting;
  • Reduce state energy use by purchasing energy-efficient office equipment and appliances;
  • Employ energy-conserving strategies in state-owned or leased buildings;
  • Procure and use products with the lowest potential to contribute to air pollution, such as cleaning products with low amounts of volatile organic compounds;
  • Employ landscaping that reduces the need for gasoline-powered maintenance equipment, and delay lawn mowing on air alert days;
  • Purchase electricity generated from renewable sources.

Although Minnesota meets all federal air quality standards, Air Pollution Alerts have been called in various parts of the state in the last five years. These alerts are called when air pollution reaches unhealthy levels, particularly for children, senior citizens, people with asthma and other breathing problems, and those who work or exercise vigorously outside.

But sometimes the pollution levels are high enough to be unhealthy for all of us. About 45 percent of Minnesota's air pollution comes from vehicles and other engines (including construction, farm and yard equipment). About 25 percent comes from small sources, such as solvents and fumes from products. The remaining 30 percent comes from large facilities such as power plants, which reflect energy use. Our everyday actions at work and at home can, and do, add to air pollution. Our actions can also reduce air pollution.

The following are ideas and resources for reducing air pollution that you can try at home:

  • Use less energy;
  • Turn off lights, TVs, computers and other electric appliances when not in use;
  • Take shorter showers and run the dishwasher when it's full. Wash clothes in cold water.
  • When it's time to buy new appliances or furnaces, choose energy-efficient models (look for the Energy Star logo);
  • Purchase electricity generated from renewable sources;
  • Try replacing two or three light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. They cost more, but they give excellent, pleasing light, use two-thirds less energy, and last six to eight times as long;
  • Turn down the thermostat at night in winter, and don't overcool your house with air conditioning in summer;
  • Tightly seal containers of household chemicals and gasoline, and avoid spills;
  • Use wood stoves and fireplaces wisely and sparingly (see the smoke from fires and your health page);
  • Reduce use of small gasoline-powered engines. Lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other yard equipment are usually heavy polluters.
  • Reduce air pollution from your vehicle;
  • Make fewer trips. Help your family think ahead and combine errands. Cars pollute more when they first start up than when they've been running a while.
  • Don't idle. Encourage your family to park and go inside rather than using drive-up windows. It takes less gas to re-start a car than to idle for one minute, and using less gasoline means producing less air pollution.
  • Drive smart and save gasoline. Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, and unload the heavy junk in your trunk.
  • Take care of your car. Make sure your car is tuned up, and keep the car's tires properly inflated. A well-kept car uses less gasoline.
  • When it's time to buy a new vehicle, check out the Green Vehicle Guide page;

Helpful links:

Give Toys for Tots through Dec. 15

toys for tots logoThe KMSU-FM Toys for Tots drive runs through Thursday, Dec. 15.

Toys may be left in Toys for Tots boxes in CSU 173 (Student Leadership Development & Service Learning) and at KMSU-FM in the Alumni Foundation Building Room 205. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys that will be distributed to Mankato area children.

Toys for Tots is a program of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Toys must be new, unwrapped and appropriate for children. Those who have questions may e-mail Jill Lueth at jill.lueth@mnsu.edu.

Ben Markel, Gage Hall Staff Honored

Graduate student Ben Markel has been nominated for an "Of the Month" award by the National Residence Hall Honorary for his work as an advisor.

"Of the Month" awards are the primary source of recognition in the National Residence Hall Association, and are designed to highlight the successes of students, advisors and programs. The awards are written at individual schools, graded on the local level, and then graded on regional and national levels.

The Gage A Hall Upper staff also has been nominated for the Social Program of the Month award by the National Residence Hall Honorary. The nomination is for a stoplight dance planned by staff members to coincide with Coming Out Week. The Gage A Hall Upper staff coordinated the dance with students dressing in three colors: red, yellow or green. The dance was intended to increase student awareness and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender issues.

Faculty Achievements

Several faculty and staff members were honored recently for professional achievements.

Daria Paul Dona (Educational Studies: K-12 & Secondary Programs) presented at the Minnesota Association of Colleges of Teacher Education Fall Congress in October.

JoAnna Mink (English) participated in a panel discussion, "Juggling Writing Assignments in the Literature Course," at the MnSCU Conference on Writing & Literature at Inver Grove Hills in October. Chad J. Kuyper (MA, General Studies, English) also was on the panel.

John Janc (Modern Languages) served as show manager for the fall conference of the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Culture in Brooklyn Park in October. John also made two presentations at the conference.

Student Achievements

Three students recently won awards for their accomplishments.

Residential Life graduate assistants Amber Moreyra (Educational Leadership) and Charlie Johnston (Counseling: College Student Affairs) recently won first prize at the Upper Midwest Region of the Association of College and University Housing Officers conference in Appleton, Wis. They won in the entry-level case study competition, competing against other two-person teams from eight states.

Daryl Lawrence (History) was named Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls National Communication Coordinator of the Year. The award recognizes outstanding service by an individual directly affiliated with the organization. More than 50 national communication coordinators from Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Manitoba voted on the award.