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On Small and Large Scales, Ozarks are "Going Green"[Part_1]

A remarkable trend has begun in the Ozarks: people here--as well as major institutions--are beginning to realize that preserving the earth's resources, or "going green," is a personal responsibility incumbent on every one who walks the earth's soil, drinks her water and breathes her air. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

For the past several months, a collection of bulldozers, dirt and straw have graced the south side of the beautiful Stone Chapel on Drury University campus in Springfield.

Wendy Anderson, biology professor and director of sustainability, says the project is Drury's latest source of pride.

The project is the installation of a new geo-thermal heating and cooling system for Drury's Stone Chapel. It saves energy—and thus the environment—by using the constant 55 degree temperature of groundwater to keep the chapel cool in the summer and comfortable in the winter.

Anderson shows me the room where the underground water is brought in and used for heating or cooling the chapel.

In the summer, it's using very little electricity—just enough to pump that water thru the pipes and blow the air thru building. Before, the heating system was outdated.

And, she adds, it didn't have air conditioning at all.

The project is just one symbol of a remarkable trend which has taken over the Ozarks in the past couple of years: people here are beginning to realize that preserving the earth's resources, or "going green," is a personal responsibility incumbent on every one who walks the earth's soil, drinks her water and breathes her air.

This trend is evident in larger institutions—like Drury, for example—which have made a public commitment to recycle, cut down on energy consumption and develop other environmentally-friendly practices.

Anderson says things in the Springfield area really started turning green when Mayor Tom Carlson got on board.

We walk upstairs to the main sanctuary of the chapel. Except for minor changes to the ductwork, the chapel's interior remains the same.

And as long as brides don't wear stiletto heels, they should be able to avoid stepping in the chapel's new vents which line the floor.

Here's the catch: the geothermal heating and cooling system cost much more upfront than a conventional system - 100,000 dollars more, to be precise.

The project was funded by donations.But Wendy Anderson says that it will pay for itself in a few years thru the money saved on massive utility bills. And more importantly, it is reducing the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the air.

Anderson says many can't see the long-term benefits of using energy-saving products, because people only tend to focus on the short-term cost.

And she happens to be an expert in this area; Anderson and her family recently installed a 20,000 dollar geothermal heating and cooling system in their own home. Although the upfront cost was painful, she estimates they now save up to 300 dollars a month on heating and cooling bills.

And, they're preserving the earth's resources by not using coal, which is burned for energy and its harmful emissions pumped into the earth's atmosphere.

Drury University is just one of many area institutions and organizations which joined a new partnership aimed at preserving and protecting the earth's resources. The local group is called the Partnership for Sustainability, and any business or institution can join.

Anderson says she believes people—and organizations in the Ozarks care about doing their part to preserve this planet we call "home." She hopes the trend of businesses and institutions "going green" continues to grow.

With projects like Stone Chapel's new geo-thermal heating and cooling system, the seed has been planted.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.