UI Gets Unique Air Quality Permit

Apr 13, 2016

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources is giving University of Iowa a unique air quality permit that will provide the UI flexibility in using renewable fuels as an alternative to coal.

The ‘Plant-wide Applicability Permit’ enables the UI to average air quality across the 437 emission sources on the campus, instead of reporting individually.

DNR Director Charles Gipp says the permit -- one-of-a-kind in Iowa -- allows the UI to try new, renewable energy sources without violating air quality standards.

Iowa DNR Director Charles Gipp
Credit Dean Borg/IPR

The University’s Physical Plant, providing heating and cooling energy across the campus, is already burning oat hulls, wood chips, and Miscanthus grass.

UI Vice President, Rod Lehnertz told a Tuesday news conference that the campus is now using half-as-much coal as six years ago. The goal is to obtain forty-percent of the UI’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

“Some of these do have higher emissions, depending on source of those emissions,” said the DNR's Gipp. He add that with the unique air quality permit, “they can use these waste products for their energy sources by allowing some higher emissions at some of these points, and reduce their emissions on other points.”

“This permit is a great example of how we proactively work as a department to protect the environment, but also assist in supporting innovative ways to do so,” he said.