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All Project Updates


  1. SSC Grants Funding to Supermileage

    This funding supports the purchase of an engine and other car parts to construct a highly fuel-efficient car. As a resource conservation and transportation project, Eco Illini Supermileage is training its team members and spreading sustainability awareness to students from all majors. Through social media and showcase events, Eco Illini Supermileage engages the CU community. The Eco Illini Supermileage experience springboards students’ career development and automotive innovation after graduation.

    Attached Files: 
  2. Local Grains and Locally Processed Foods for Dining Services

    The Student Sustainability Committee funded Local Grains and Locally Processed Foods for Dining Services in October 2017.

    This project aims at developing methods that promote locally processed grains for U of I students. This project connects to the Vegetable Crop Farm, FSHN Pilot Plant, and Sustainable Student Farm, offering the final puzzle piece required to offer campus grown grains to UIUC community members. This project will purchase reusable containers to transport grains, and other campus products, between campus farms and campus processing facilities. Moreover, project leaders will analyze both taste and nutrients for Vegetable Crop Farm product.

    The SSC funding will go directly towards:

    1. Reusable storage containers
    2. Analysis equipment
  3. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was predictably slow. I cut back almost entirely on student staff since long stretches of open hours were completely vacant of visitors. Thankfully a few student staffers wanted to work on their own bicycle projects and were able to jump in and help out when it got too busy for me to handle everyone on my own. Those instances were rare and brief, presenting a problem from a staffing prospective: not busy enough to keep someone there the whole day but busy enough that a second person is needed. Something to consider for the future is having something like an on-call staffer for the winter months to pitch in the very few times it gets busy.

    Last week we had a TBP/UIUC/CBC meeting that went well. We discussed the forthcoming Bike@illinois website and brainstormed other participants for their research/interviews. Barry and I talked afterwards about potentially implementing some better inventory-tracking ideas to get a better handle on sales/stock.

    This week I only work today (Monday) and then the shop will be closed until Tuesday, Nov. 28th.  I’ll post on the door and on the Bike Project website (and social media pages).


    Visitors: 55
    Sales: $396.49
    Bikes (refurb): 1 for $70
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $105
    Memberships: 1 for $30

    Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!


    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  4. ECS Bike Share Completed

    Facilities and Services division Engineering and Construction Services (ECS) has three bikes for employees to share for campus business. Check out is easy and the same as checking out a department car or truck. Two helmets are available for borrowing and lock keys are color coded to the bike they go to.

    Two of the three bikes were purchased through the Campus Bike Center, with locks and front baskets. The helmets came from Neutral Cycle. The whole project cost less than $750 and will have minimum maintenance each year.

    For questions about use please contact Lily Wilcock,


  5. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was surprisingly busy. On Friday we had all the stands full and it was something like 35° outside. That’s encouraging! We even had one person in here in shorts! Our number of for-sale bikes is slowly creeping upward as demand wanes and we have time to build during open hours. From Wednesday to Friday Michael Merriman from Campus Rec borrowed the Bluebird cargo bike for trips between ARC and CRCE (due to construction, there is a lack of car/truck parking) and reported back that he loves it.

    This week I’ll continue to reduce hours for the student workers as well as cull a number of decrepit bikes and pull out the abandoned B-a-Bs. I’ll also begin looking at which student workers are graduating and how many positions I’ll have to fill come spring/summer when it gets busy again. Additionally, I’ll begin designing some new storage and stock solutions to help facilitate ease-of-use for newcomers. More and more I am tucking things away and stacking things upon other things and soon enough I am the only person who knows where anything is. That is bad and quite problematic to the mission and usability of the Campus Bike Center. If people can’t find anything they can’t use the space effectively. I’ll work on labeling/organizing and making things visible this week.

    On to the numbers!

    Visitors: 74
    Overall sales: $493.80
    Memberships: 3 for $90
    Refurb/B-a-B’s: 0 for $0
    Tubes/Wheels/Small Parts: 30 for $179.40


    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  6. Water & ALUFS SWATeam Joint Meeting

    Each team shared ideas of the semester and came together to propose a few joint recommendations. Suggested logistics for a water audit were mentioned, as well as nitrate runoff data from the 1990s that would be used as benchmark levels for runoff reduction. Different possible measuring techniques regarding future progress in nitrate reduction were mentioned. Ideas for greener parking lots were introduced, including replanting of trees on Lot E14.

  7. ISTC Policies for the Sustainable Purchase, Use, and End-of-Life Management of IT Equipment

    The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) has listed its policies for sustainably purchasing, using, and managing IT equipment at the end of its life.  These policies, which include ideas adapted from both campus and beyond, are in the attached file.

  8. ECBS SWATeam Meeting Minutes

    At the ECBS SWATeam's third meeting of FY17, the members discussed methods for how the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) can become more sustainable. For example, there are lighting opportunities at Irwin Practice Facility and at Atkins tennis center. In addiiton, Mike Marquissee, director of Budget, Research and Planning for energy services, presented a mini-lecture (also attached) to the team on their funding options and predicted budget for FY18. The SWATeam then discussed how the grant cuts will impact their iCap progress, as well as what needs to be prioritized in terms of funding. Finally, updates on programs such as the Green Labs Coordinator and Illini Lights out were presented. 

  9. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was pretty uneventful. Visitor numbers are declining with the weather getting cooler. I’ve begun cutting back on the student staff as we get fewer and fewer visitors. We’ve got 9 refurbished bikes for sale. With fall coming on strong, I suspect we’ll see a lot of the in-progress build-a-bikes abandoned which can then be flipped for sale quicker than usual.

    This week I will coordinate with Parking to pick up the salvageable bikes from the warehouse as well as build bikes and take stock of inventory.

    The numbers:

    Visitors for the week: 62

    Sales: $187.35
    Refurbished bikes: 0 for $0
    Build-a-bikes: 0 for $0
    Memberships: 0 for $0 (Reinstated our First Visit Free policy, which has hurt these numbers.)
    Tires/tubes: 7 for $42

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  10. Archived - project description

    Description archived and replaced 11/05/2017:

    Housing Dining Services has begun recycling the glass wine and liquor bottles from their Catering Services operation, as of the end of July 2013.  There is a new company in Champaign-Urbana called Green Purpose, which is accepting the glass that Catering collects for recycling.

    Primary Contact archive and replaced 11/05/2017:

    Bryan Johnson

  11. SWATeam Meeting - 10/18/17

    The PWR SWATeam met to discuss objectives and goals for the year, as well as provide feedback on the proposed Campus Administrative Manual policy on purchasing paper of recycled content. The team discussed a broad range of projects and delegated next steps for moving forward on each.

    Attached Files: 
  12. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, I was out of town yesterday, so this report is a day late.

    Last week was surprisingly busy despite the cooler weather. I thought for sure that the drop in temps would dissuade a lot of people but we still had full stands a few days of the week. More winter commuters, I hope!

    Wednesday afternoon was the Campus Sustainability Celebration that was a lot of fun and very informative. I met quite a few people involved elsewhere in the sustainability world on campus and was able to learn about some of the larger scale work being implemented. Good stuff!

    We’ve outpaced sales in Build-a-Bikes vs. refurbished bikes in the month of October, something that I think bodes well for the CBC. It definitely imparts a larger sense of ownership at the least and certainly more mechanical skill versus  buying our cheaper-than-retail bikes. I noticed this year a few of the bikes that we’ve sold as refurbs made it back in the warehouse after being abandoned; I haven’t found any B-a-Bs there. Obviously that is anecdotal evidence but I think it holds true.

    Last week I was able to rebuild the hanging bike racks in the back to accommodate better the bikes we have. I was interviewed for the New-Gazette story that ran on Sunday to positive reviews, I believe. Bikes are being built faster than they’re being sold now, and that bodes well for the Spring.

    Over the weekend I traveled to Austin, TX and was able to visit a bike cooperative space there and see some of the similarities and differences in their space and model of operation.

    The numbers:
    65 visitors last week
    Sales: $510.20
    Bikes (refurb): 0 for $0
    Bikes (B-a-b): 3 for $185
    Memberships: 4 for $120
    Tires/tubes: 4 for $19


    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  13. Program finishes strong!

    Associated Project(s): 


    October, 31, 2017



    Solar Urbana-Champaign Bulk Solar Purchase Program Finishes Strong

    Claire Johnson and Jill Houser have just finished installing solar panels on Andy Robinson’s roof as part of the Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 program. They are  members of New Prairie Construction’s solar installation team, and part of a mostly female crew. They and other teams from New Prairie Construction will be installing 446.95 kilowatts of solar on 58 properties across Champaign County as a result of the program, which helped people save on solar through volume purchasing. Robinson not only went solar through the program, he also helped to lead it.

    “I’ve thought solar was a cool way to reduce our carbon footprint ever since seeing the 2007 UI solar decathlon house in DC, but it also needed to make financial sense for our family,” said Robinson, who was hired by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to facilitate the education sessions, called “Solar Power Hours,” for the program. “Now we will offset nearly all of our electric use and it was a good financial investment.  New Prairie laid out the panels on the front and back roof in a way that looks like it is a part of the design of our 1920 house. We were especially happy to meet the diverse install crew of local women and men, and a highly qualified refugee.”

    “In the 1980’s, Jill and I got our start in construction through the woman-owned company Working Women Construction,” said Julie Birdwell, owner of New Prairie Construction. “When we started New Prairie Construction, we made a commitment to providing opportunities for women. We never regretted it. Our New Prairie women contribute more than just diversity. They help contribute to a positive work culture and maintain a high level of attention to detail and craftsmanship.”

    “When we think about the benefits of solar energy, we often picture environmental benefits, of which there are of course many,” said Peter Murphy, Solar Program Manager at Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). “But what often gets overlooked is the growing number of solar jobs, which are local and by nature cannot be outsourced.”

    “One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2% percent of all new jobs,” according to The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that conducts a national solar jobs census.

    “We recently had an opportunity to hire an Afghan national who worked in construction for the US military in Afghanistan,” said Birdwell. “Hiring such a refugee is a way of acknowledging the risks and sacrifices he and his family have made to support our country. In addition, he and our other employees from different cultures and countries provide positive contributions to our work culture, and we feel, our overall product.”

    “In the first day of solar production, our kids said that we were vacuuming with sunshine,” said Robinson. “And they are right.”

    “The electricity produced by the 446 kW of solar the program has contracted will offset around 639,035 lbs of CO2 being released into atmosphere in the first year alone,” said Scott Tess, Environmental Sustainability Manager at the City of Urbana. “That amount of solar energy will also save almost 10 million gallons of water from use in thermoelectric power plants that run on coal or natural gas.”

    The program was administered by the MREA at no cost to the city or the county. MREA has successfully implemented similar programs in other jurisdictions in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin as seen in Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Bloomington-Normal, and elsewhere. Solarize programs have taken place all over the country, from California to Maine.

    "The solar branch of New Prairie Construction Co. is a natural extension of our commitment to providing high quality, environmentally responsible solutions for homes and businesses," says Julie Birdwell, co-owner of New Prairie. "Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 provides an excellent opportunity for our community to use the power of bulk purchasing to get premium quality installations for a great price.  We are excited to work with our neighbors to help increase sustainability and energy independence in Champaign County."

    MREA issued a request for proposals to solar installers in January. A local advisory committee reviewed proposals based on professional certification, experience, and cost. They selected New Prairie Construction Co., based in Urbana. They were chosen as the solar installer for the second Solar Group Buy because of their high-quality solar installations, building science expertise, and emphasis on customer service.


    The MREA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit shortly after the first Energy Fair in 1990. MREA’s mission is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit or