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Living Lab Facilities / Programs

These projects offer opportunities to connect campus sustainability efforts with new or existing research and teaching programs.

Below this project collection listing is a map showing the projects which have a location. Please scroll to the bottom to see it.

Project Listing

Theme Project Status Description
Education GFX Global Sustainability Scholars ENG 177 Ongoing

ENG 177 is a class taught by Angela Wolters and Gretchen Forman: Global Sustainability Scholars for the Grainger First Year Experience.

Education Sustainability Living Learning Community (SLLC) Ongoing

Sustainability is a living-learning community that welcomes students to live and learn about diverse aspects of sustainability in a variety of ways: academically, organically, and experientially. Located on two floors in the Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls, students with similar interests and intents from a range of different backgrounds are invited to experience this new community, where opportunities abound to learn not only from professionals, but from each other and from shared experiences.

Energy Anaerobic Digester at Beef and Sheep Study Proposed

This project will provide a study to investigate the feasibility of installing an Anaerobic Methane Digester in the area of the University’s South Farms to capture renewable energy from beef, sheep and/or dairy cow waste. The study will assess the possibility of an on-site digester at one site, with one digester system of animal waste.

Energy Biomass Boiler at the Energy Farm Completed

For many years, the UI has grown significant quantities of biomass plant products at the Energy Farm on South Farms. There have been a few preliminary attempts to identify a post-research use for this material, including the cancelled Vet Med Combined Heat and Power (CHP) project and a study of the compatibility with existing boilers at Abbott Power Plant.  Meanwhile the biomass material continues to be stockpiled at the Energy Farm. This project is looking to convert the existing (and future) biomass from the Energy Farm into power for the on-site Energy Farm facility.

Energy Biomass co-firing pilot at Abbott Power Plant Completed

Plans are progressing to add a new energy source at Abbott Power Plant – biomass fuel made from plants – following the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency 2012 decision to grant a test-fire permit.

The idea involves using a biomass material, made from wood or miscanthus grass for example, which then would be added to the coal. The mixture could contain anywhere from 10-20 percent biomass fuel, though the tests will determine the proper mixture and whether the process presents any dangers during the combustion process.

Energy Bousfield Hall: LEED Platinum Completed

Bousfield Hall LEED® Certified: Bousfield Hall, which opened in Fall 2013, became the third university facility to achieve LEED Platinum status, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest certification level, joining the Business Instructional Facility and Lincoln Hall.

Energy Business Instructional Facility: LEED Platinum Completed

The Business Instructional Facility was awarded the LEED Platinum Certification on December 2, 2009, having achieved 52 of the 69 possible points on the LEED Scorecard. The construction was especially strong in the Indoor Environmental Quality, receiving 13 of the 15 possible points in that area. This building is the first business facility at a public university anywhere in the world to earn platinum certification through LEED.

Energy Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) Geothermal Completed

When built, the University of Illinois Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) will be a four-story building dedicated to academic and classroom use. CIF will serve 31,000 students daily and will leverage sustainable design to decrease its carbon emissions. The ground source heat exchange system will consist of approximately 60 wells arrayed under the John Bardeen Quad.

Energy Carbon Capture In Progress

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center a division of the Prairie Research Institute is part of a pilot project on the University of Illinois campus that will explore methods to capture carbon dioxide from the gas- and coal-fired Abbott Power Plant. The ultimate goal is to reduce CO2 emissions and developing industrial markets that would reuse the recovered CO2. The Department of Energy is funding the $1.3 million engineering and planning phase, representing the DOE’s first sponsorship of a large-scale research and development project for the capture of CO2 emissions.

Energy ECE Net-Zero Energy Building In Progress

The ECE Building acheived LEED platinum certification in November 2019, and it is striving for a net-zero energy certification. From a vast array of photovoltaic cells, to a chilled beam system to cool and heat the classroom tower, ECE wil accomplish a major campus addition with maximum space and minimal carbon footprint.

Excerpt from the ECE building website:

Energy ECE Rooftop Solar PVs Completed

The ECE Building includes Solar Panels on its roof. The panels provide about 11% of the building's energy needs. The infrastructure for connecting these panels to the building electric supply was included in the original design and construction costs for the full building, while the solar panels themselves were funded separately. 

Energy Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP) Ongoing

For many departments on campus, energy and utility costs do not impact research, teaching, or departmental budgets.  The  academic departments are supplied with utilities through the campus administrative budget.  For these departments, an incentive program has been implemented to encourage these units to conserve energy. 

Energy Energy Dashboard Project In Progress

The Illini Energy Dashboard provides clearly visible understandable information data and information to students and staff of selected University buildings describing energy consumption rate (electrical, chilled water and steam) so that users can make educated choices about the way they can affect energy consumption and conservation. The biggest challenge in successfully creating a campus-wide goal of energy reduction is being able to evoke a behavioral change resulting in energy consevation and sustainability efforts.

Energy Energy Models for Campus Facilities In Progress

As the iCAP 2020 says, "Using information gathered from capital projects, faculty members and researchers can collaborate with F&S to develop a reference database of calibrated energy models for campus buildings. This might be the product of student classroom projects. The campus could then use these models to prioritize building retrofits and determine the preferred level of improvements (i.e., envelope versus mechanicals) for each building." (Page 41).

Energy Facility Standards Ongoing

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Facilities Standards shall be applied for all remodeling and new construction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  These Standards are intended to achieve the value consistent with an institute of higher education.  Where these Standards exceed minimum Code and/or Capital Development Board (CDB) requirements, the Standards shall apply.  Where the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Facilities Standards and CDB

Energy Geothermal at Allerton Park Completed

Allerton Park was able to install a geothermal energy system at the Evergreen Lodge, with funding from the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  There are opportunities for future installations of geothermal energy, when funding allows.

Energy Geothermal at President's House - Study In Progress

The President's House is provided to the University of Illinois President and his or her family.  This home is used for some formal events each year, including an event for graduating students each May.  This building is maintained by F&S, and power is supplied through the campus grid.  It has been noted that this site is a good candidate for geothermal energy, so there is a feasibility evaluation underway.

Energy Geothermal at the Energy Farm Proposed

Campus is exploring options for retrofitting Energy Farm with Deep Direct Use (DDU) geothermal energy.

Energy Geothermal at the Fruit Farm Admin Building Completed

The Fruit Farm Admin building uses geothermal energy.

Energy Geothermal at WPP In Progress

This project will involve the design, construction, and installation of a geothermal system to heat one greenhouse at the UIUC Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP) Research Site, located near the southwest corner of Race Street and Windsor Avenue.

Energy Geothermal Monitoring Well on Bardeen Quad Ongoing

Campus researchers are installing a geothermal monitoring well in the northwest corner of the John Bardeen Quad during December 2018.  The borehole will be 450 feet deep and it will allow campus to investigate the applicability of using geothermal heat exchange at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Energy Geothermal Test Well at Energy Farm Completed

The main objective is to provide comprehensive scientific data and analysis to help our community on evaluating the potential of using ground source heat pump system in a large scale as part of campus green energy policy. 

Energy Huff Hall, Khan Annex: LEED Silver Completed

In February 2013, the Huff Hall Khan Annex acheived Silver LEED Certification status. 

Energy Hydro-Systems Lab Energy Foundations In Progress

Geothermal energy foundations will be installed this summer as part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s (CEE) Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory addition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Substantial completion of the renovation is expected in Summer 2020.

Energy Ikenberry Dining Hall: LEED Silver Completed

The Ikenberry Commons Dining Hall was awarded the LEED Silver Certification on August 17, 2011. The dining hall received 34 of the 69 possible points on the LEED Scorecard. Energy saving features of the facility include recycled content in 20 percent of the materials used to construct the building; water-efficient plumbing fixtures; energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling; low-VOC paints, coatings, and sealants; and a white reflective roof that reduces the need for cooling.

Energy Illinois Fire Service Institute: LEED Silver Completed

The Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) achieved LEED Silver certification on August 8th, 2012. IFSI has long been a resource for training fire fighting personnel in Illinois and the United States. IFSI is currently operating at near capacity and often must limit/restrict course opportunities due to lack of classroom space. Henneman Engineering was responsible for complete mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering design.

Energy Illinois Natural History Survey: LEED Silver Completed

The Illinois Natural History Survey was awarded the LEED Silver Certification on August 1, 2012. The building received 36 of the 69 possible points. With a staff of over 200 scientists and technicians, the Illinois Natural History Survey is recognized as the premier natural history survey in the nation. The resources needed to effectively support the Survey have changed considerably since their current headquarters building was completed in 1942.

Energy ISTC Geothermal Loop Cancelled

The aim of this project is to investigate the possibility of installing an open-loop geothermal system at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). Open-loop geothermal systems takes ground water pumped through a large diameter pipe and introduces or extracts heat depending on the season. Installing such a system would give the building an opportunity to reduce total building energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 50 percent.

Energy Lighting Conservation Projects Ongoing

The campus is in the process of retrofitting older T12 fluorescent lighting fixtures by replacing them with more energy-efficient T8 (or T5) fixtures and electronic ballasts. The lighting retrofit proposed in the SAIC report would reduce campus energy consumption by ~1.6 percent; a very small amount of this is due to the use of occupancy sensors and day lighting controls.

Energy Lincoln Hall Renovation: LEED Platinum Completed

The Lincoln Hall Renovation was originally awarded the LEED Gold Certification on July 9, 2010.

Energy NCSA Petascale: LEED Gold Completed

The NCSA Petascale Computing Facility was awarded the LEED Gold Certification on November 4, 2011.The building received 40 of the 69 possible points on the LEED Scorecard. Energy saving features of the building include a power distribution system that is based on 480 V power for the computational equipment, water-cooled computational and storage equipment (which is twice as efficient as air cooling), external cooling towers that allow for natural chilling of water for a large part of the year, law-impact landscaping with native prairie plants, and use of best practice construction methods.

Energy Nugent Hall: LEED Silver Completed

Nugent Hall (the Champaign Housing Residence Halls Phase A) was awarded the LEED Silver Certification on January 20, 2011. Nugent received 34 of the 69 possible points on the LEED Scorecard. The construction was especially strong in the Indoor Environmental Quality, receiving 13 of the 15 possible points in that area. Nagle Hartray was selected as the Architect of Record in order to ease the transition in the unusual project delivery approach.

Energy Oak Street Chiller Plant ESCO Completed

This project will be a guaranteed energy savings contract to be completed in conformance with the provisions of the public university energy conservation act. An energy services company (esco) will be selected through a request for proposal process to serve as a qualified provider. The esco will provide an investment grade audit and recommend energy conservation measures based on merit. This is approximately a $4,300,000 performance contract guaranteed to produce an annual energy savings of $850,000.

Energy Retrocommissioning (RCx) Ongoing

Retrocommissioning (RCx) is an analysis of a building's Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems as well as their maintenance program. The purpose of this group is to restore the most favorable operating conditions while optimizing energy conservation, sustainability, and client comfort satisfaction. This group is important on our campus because deferred maintenance is becoming very detrimental to campus buildings.

Energy Solar Farm 1.0 Ongoing

The 20.8 acre Solar Farm on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign South Farms is a Power Purchase Agreement with Phoenix Solar South Farms, LLC, producing an estimated 7, 864 MWh/year of solar energy used solely by the Urbana campus.

Energy Solar Farm 2.0 In Progress

Construction of a new 54-acre, 12.32 megawatt (MWdc) Solar Farm has been approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees as the sole member of Prairieland Energy, Inc. Referred to as "Solar Farm 2.0," the new utility-scale array will be located north of Curtis Road, between First Street and Dunlap Avenue near Savoy. Solar Farm 2.0 will produce approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours per year (MWh/year), nearly tripling the university’s existing on-site renewable energy generation.

Energy Solar Power on Campus Ongoing

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 2 is "Expand on-campus solar energy production.  By FY20, produce at least 12,500 MWh/year, and by FY25 at least 25,000 MWh/year, from solar installations on campus property."  Commonly used solar technologies are solar photovoltaics for electricity, solar thermal water heating, and passive solar design for space heating and cooling.

Energy Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Tank Completed

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign built a Thermal Energy Storage (TES) tank for the Campus Chilled Water System
(CCWS). The tank is located on South Oak Street in Champaign, adjacent to the NCSA Petascale Computing Facility.

The 6.5 million gallon tank will help meet ~7,000 tons of additional cooling requirements for building projects being completed in 2010.
Anticipated loads include:

Energy Vet Med ESCO Completed

Efficiently Deliverying Green Energy at the Vet Med Complex

The Facilities and Services team has partnered with Energy Systems Group (ESG) a leading energy services provider, to develop a comprehensive energy savings performance contract (ESCO) project at the Veterinary Medicine Complex.

The Vet Med ESCO project will provide innovative energy efficiency and technology, demonstrable energy savings, and long-term financing solutions for modernization of our facilities and energy infrastructure. The expected energy reduction for this project is 40 percent.

Energy Wassaja Hall: LEED Gold Completed

“University Housing is pleased and proud to have been awarded LEED Gold certification for Wassaja Hall,” said University Housing Director Alma R. Sealine. “This is just one more example of our commitment to sustainability and resident-centered design, and this recognition is an honor.”

To achieve its Gold-level certification, Wassaja Hall was judged on several factors, including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.

Among the Wassaja Hall LEED highlights:

Energy Yeh Student Center: LEED Silver Completed

The M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Student Center in Newmark Civil Engineering was awarded LEED Silver ceritfication on August 7, 2012. The Yeh Center achieved LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies, such as a green roof and the generous use of natural light. Chicago-area design firm Teng & Associates Inc.

Transportation Campus Bike Center Ongoing

The Campus Bicycle Center — a collaboration between the University of Illinois and The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign — is dedicated to empowering individuals with knowledge about how to repair and maintain bicycles and encouraging mode-shift away from single-occupancy vehicles.  This educational center offers hands-on experiential learning that students can’t get in a classroom.  By empowering people with the ability to fix a bicycle and providing a connection between the campus and the community, the Bicycle Center promotes bicycling, collaboration, and community spirit.

Transportation Crowd Management for Quad Day: Living Lab Project In Progress

Yanfeng Ouyang (Professor), Shelly Zhang (Professor), and their PhD students from the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are collaborating with Facilities and Services to develop a model to optimize the pedestrian flow on the Quad Day 2020.

Transportation Engineer for Bikes Ongoing

Bicycle lanes, paths, parking and repair stations all help to make the campus more bicycle-friendly, and encourages campus users to travel and commute by bike. The University is working to improve existing features, and aims to create a network of high quality infrastructure that supports, encourages, and enables safe bicycling behavior. 

Transportation Illinois Cross-Campus Bicycles (ICCB) Ongoing

The Illinois Cross-Campus Bicycles (ICCB) program is a bike sharing program within the departments of Kinesiology and Community Health, and is available for the faculty, staff, and paid graduate students of each department. This program was founded by Professor Wojciech Chodzko-Zajko in 2008 and has been running successfully since then.  

Transportation Install Public Use Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations Ongoing

In this region of the electric grid, an electric vehicle typically emits fewer GHG emissions than a conventional gas-fueled vehicle of similar size. The Parking Department is supporting sustainability through implementation of public use electric vehicle charging spaces, with 20 “Level 1” charging spaces now on campus, and began installing “Level 2” stations in 2015. The campus could support additional electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Transportation iWalk Toolkit Completed

The Wellness Center on campus is dedicated to promoting wellness in many dimensions.  Encouraging walking for wellness is one of the key programs the center offers.  The iWalk Toolkit provides tips, programs, attire advice, motivation and more.

Transportation Use Electric Vehicles (EV) Ongoing

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a focus of the University’s continuing efforts in reducing fossil fuel emissions. Petroleum-based vehicles are powered exclusively by fossil fuels, while electric vehicles are powered by a range of energy sources including fossil fuels, nuclear power, solar power, and wind power. Golf carts are one type of electric vehicle the University has been using on campus.

Transportation Y-Cycles Ongoing

Y-Cycles is a bike sharing program led by the university YMCA. Currently the program is waiting on the shipment of two bikes for use in the summer of 2013. The program is also in the process of purchasing two more bikes, in order to make four available for use in the Fall 2013 semester.

Resilience Mapping Sustainability Completed

This project is meant to map the sustainability related programs, facilities and organizations in the Champaign-Urbana Area. The purpose of this project is to inform the community of the sustainability programs the University is undertaking. There is also an educational component to the project, since a Univeristy of Illinois class will be involved. Visit the map at

Resilience Solar Urbana-Champaign In Progress

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is helping to promote and encourage participation in the Solar Urbana-Champaign program. 

Land and Water Bee Campus USA In Progress

Bee Campus USA is a nation-wide movement to support pollinators on university campuses. A university that is Bee Campus USA-certified proves that they are progressing in awareness, native plant landscapes, and safe pest management. The Bee Campus committee developed an official web page in spring 2018 and worked with Facilitites & Services to develop a University Habitat Plan. In addition, with funding from the SSC, we will be installing pollinator signage on campus in fall 2018.


Land and Water BIF Greywater Pipe System In Progress

The Business Instructional Facility (BIF) was designed for future use of greywater, which is raw (untreated) water. Although the building is fed from the potable water supply, there is separate piping for the urinals and water closets in the building.

Land and Water Boneyard Creek Management Ongoing

The Boneyard Creek is a wonderful water resource for education, research, and stormwater management for campus.

Land and Water Burrill/ Morrill Walkway Completed

This project is meant to transform the walkway between Burrill and Morrill Halls into a sustainable and multifunctional landscape. The walkway formerly had planters with a few, mostly non-native species. The walkway’s impervious concrete also had the problem of collecting rainwater and flooding. This area is high in student pedestrian traffic and is a part of the “Million Dollar Tour” that prospective donors to the University take while visiting campus.

Land and Water Campus Tree Inventory Completed

This project documented individual trees on campus, using a GPS device and collecting tree details into the ArcGIS data layer.  The previous Tree Inventory was last updated in 2006, and it included trees that had subsequently been removed and it was missing new trees that have been planted. Through this project, the Tree Inventory was updated to include all and only existing trees on campus. The environmental benefits included in the tree inventory are directly derived from iTree, with the help of Davey Research Group who completed the survey on campus. 

Land and Water Committee on Natural Areas Ongoing

The Committee on Natural Areas is responsible for maintaining and managing University of Illinois owned properties which have been acquired to enhance environmental/ ecological research and education. The role of CNA is to provide and facilitate long-term research and teaching opportunities on University-owned properties. Sites are managed to protect both the integrity of the ecological systems and the bological research that takes place on them.

Ten University properties are currently under the direct supervision of the Committee on Natural Areas:

Land and Water Green Roofs on Campus Ongoing

Campus projects for green infrastructure include the construction of green roofs.  The Business Instructional Facility contains a green roof that involves plantings on part of the roof area to reduce rain run-off and the impact of heat on the building heating, ventilation and cooling systems. These plantings were specifically chosen because of their regional use and ability to thrive without irrigation or fertilizer. The Mt. Geoffrey Yeh Student Center also features a green roof.

Land and Water Hartley Garden Renovation Proposed

The Miles C Hartley Selections Garden (Hartley Garden) comprises four of the 57 acres within the Arboretum and is used for educational and research purposes. Construction of this garden was completed in 1994.

Land and Water LAR Native Plants In Progress

The Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall Living and Learning Community (LLC) is aware of the interest in increasing the number of campus locations with native plants.  They would like to join the effort to plant Native Plant Species in selected areas around Campus. The goal of this project is to locate plants in places like the unused space between Allen Hall and Lincoln Ave. Residence.

Land and Water Meadow at Orchard Downs In Progress

The goal of this project is to successfully restore the low-mow site at Orchard Downs Housing Facility to a meadow garden that has more function and biodiversity. This project will incorporate at least 25 native plant species, create habitat for wildlife and pollinators, and increase biodiversity overall. Other goals of this project are to give students hands-on experience and restoration skills. Additionally, it will be important to educate students and the community about Native American Culture through the land acknowledgement.

Land and Water Native Plants at Arboretum Completed

The University of Illinois Arboretum contains gardens, collections, and habitats that transform 160 acres of the south campus. Not only does the Arboretum serve as a beautiful area for the public to enjoy, but as a “living laboratory” for University students studying plants sciences and fine and applied arts.

Land and Water Orchard Downs Community Gardens In Progress

Community gardens built on the farmlands at Orchard Downs are available to use for growing their own food. They are managed by volunteers who assign and take payment for plots for the Family Housing Council. Housing pays for the water via funds that are collected, and they manage the plowing, clean-up, and maintenance of the garden area. Gardeners range from University administrators and students to community members. This program has been active since at least the 1990s.


Land and Water Porous Asphalt Parking Lot C-8 / C-9 Completed

Unlike traditional pavement, porous asphalt allows some of the stormwater to flow through the pavement and into the soil below which offers benefits in flood control, water quality treatment, and extends pavement life since the base is well drained. Traditional pavements cause increased volumes of stormwater runoff. Effective porous asphalt removes the pollutants from stormwater. Although porous asphalt is more expensive, the total project cost is similar to traditional asphalt pavement since stormwater infrastructure (i.e. curbs, gutters, and storm drains) is not required.

Land and Water Rain Gardens on Campus Ongoing

Rain gardens take advantage of rainfall and runoff and, therefore, reduce the need for watering. These gardens are also a helpful design in areas that are prone to flooding. The gardens are designed to withstand the chemicals and nutrients that are often present in rainwater. They reduce runoff since they allow stormwater to soak into the ground, instead of slowing into storm drains and cause erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater. Rain gardens are attractive and may support birds and butterflies.

Land and Water Red Oak Rain Garden In Progress

The Red Oak Rain Garden is a public rain garden that soaks up rainwater, enhances the campus and community aesthetic and educational experience, and promotes well-being for everyone who visits.

As the first rain garden on campus, this garden is beautiful and smart. It addresses flooding in an innovative way – by planting an attractive landscape feature that captures and filters stormwater.

Land and Water Reduce Cooling Tower and Chiller Plant Water Use In Progress

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 5, objective 2 is "Improve the water efficiency of cooling towers by limiting the amount discharged to sewer to less than 20% of water intake for chiller plant towers, and less than 33% for stand-alone building towers, by FY20." The results of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s True Cost of Water Study yielded five action items and two pilot studie

Land and Water Small Prairie at Natural Resources Building Completed

The Natual Resources Building is the site of another native species planting project, both in front of the building and behind it on Pennsylvania Avenue. This project is funded by the Student Sustaianability Project.

Land and Water Sustainable Student Farm Ongoing

The Sustainable Student Farm is a small-scale vegetable farm operated within the Crop Sciences department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign located on 10 acres of land at Lincoln Avenue and Windsor Road.  The farm serves as a production farm to supply our residence halls with locally grown, low-input sustainable food. In addition, the farm acts as a living laboratory to connect students, community members, and the state at large with regional, small-scale food systems.

Land and Water The Illinois Path Proposed

Illinois Path is a vision to transform the Military Axis from its current use into a landscape that incorporates prairie, savanna, a wet prairie swale, and woodland.  With implementation of the Illinois Path, the University has an opportunity to explicitly link the prairie ecosystem and the richness of its soils to the early agricultural legacy of this Land-Grant University represented by the Mumford House and the Morrow Plots.

Land and Water Tree Campus USA Ongoing

Campus is recognized as a Tree Campus USA, as of 2015.  This program recognizes college and university campuses that effectively manage their campus trees, develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders, and strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities centered on campus and comunity, forestry efforts.  At Illinois we recognize that trees are an important asset for our campus and the community.

Land and Water Vet Med Prairies Completed

A tall grass prarie garden that mimics the natural Illinois prairie landscape of Illinois was planted on the Vet Med Campus. The garden consists of 40 to 50 different plants and around 7,000 seedlings. The Student Sustainability funded the project for $20,000 to cover all costs excluding labor, which will be done by volunteers.

Land and Water Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP) Research Site Ongoing

The Woody Perennial  Polyculture (WPP) Research Site at the University of Illinois is working create a research farm in which the arrangement of plants is similar to that of the climate’s natural ecosystem, but uses plants that are more practical for human consumption. This research site is the first attempt at a large-scale WPP system in a temperate environment. The research from the farm is intended to show that the WPP system is a sustainable and economically advantageous alternative to the corn-soybean rotation that is commonly used on farms across the Midwest.

Funding iSEE funding for Campus as a Living Lab (CALL) In Progress

Sustainability isn’t just happening “out there;” it’s a consideration every day right here on our campus. By using our own facilities and community as a miniature model of the world at large, we can learn things that will make this campus better, but also make the world better.

Launched in February 2018, iSEE’s Living Lab program is designed to link campus sustainability targets to national and global sustainability, energy, and environment challenges.

Funding ISEIF grants Ongoing

The Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF) was created to inform and engage Illinois consumers in the transformation to a digital electric grid. ISEIF accomplishes this through funding innovative education, outreach, and research projects in correspondence with smart meter deployment timelines.

Zero Waste Compost at National Soybean Research Center (NSRC) In Progress

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is responsible for leading campus sustainability efforts. To set an example for students, faculty, and staff, iSEE is proposing a markable — and visible — program that will reduce waste and beautify campus.  

Zero Waste Dump and Run In Progress

Facilities & Services collaborates with the University YMCA and University Housing to coordinate the annual Dump and Run collection program from University Housing facilities.

Zero Waste Enviropures Ongoing

EnviroPure is a food waste elimination system that is a self-contained unit that can be continually fed food waste and dispose the waste. The system is designed to solve the environmental, operations, and economic issues associated with the disposal of food waste. The unit keeps optimal temperatures and oxygen levels for aerobic decomposition to take place more quickly. This results in a complete elimination of food waste without odors, sludge build-up, and system clean out requirements.

Zero Waste Vermicompost In Progress

The dining halls at the University residency halls produce an estimated average 14,962.5 pounds, or 7 tons, of food waste every week. To combat the amount of this food waste that goes to the landfills a pilot on-site  vermi-composting project on the Sustainable Student Farm will be created. The project has the potential to turn into a campus-wide vermi-composting model.

Zero Waste Waste Stream Characterization Study Phase 1 Completed

F&S has requested a proposal from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to get waste stream audits for select buildings across campus.  The program will repeat the efforts completed by ISTC at their building, on a larger scale.  This project could eventually extend to cover all campus facilities, or it could be done at select locations on a recurring basis to measure progress.

Reporting Progress EPA RainWorks Challenge Completed

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is designed to encourage college and university students to design innovative green infrastructure to manage stormwater on campus. Design themes may center around water reuse, pollution management, and runoff reduction. Teams complete their project through the course of a Fall semester, guided by a faculty member.

Reporting Progress Resilience Sustainability Working Advisory Team (SWATeam) In Progress

The Resilience Commitment is focused on climate adaptation and community capacity-building to deal with a changing climate and resulting extremes.

The Resilience Team, formed in 2019, was charged because of a joint climate resilience proclamation from the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign. Its charge is to liaise with SWATeams to develop recommendations that may be sent to the iCAP Working Group, the cities, or both.

Engagement Certified Green Office Program (CGOP) Ongoing

You have the power to reduce the environmental impact of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is proud to present the latest edition of the Certified Green Office Program, its initiative to engage the University community in a campuswide commitment to sustainability.

Engagement Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI) In Progress

The UIUC Biodiesel Initiative (or Illinois Biodiesel Initiative) is a project that evolved from Engineers Without Borders and has collected Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) from dining halls on campus in order to convert it to biodiesel fuel. This fuel has been used by campus vehicles at the Facilities & Services (F&S) Garage and Car Pool since spring of 2006.  

Engagement Illinois Solar Decathlon Ongoing

Who We Are

Illinois Solar Decathlon is an interdisciplinary registered student organization with over 60 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We compete in the international, Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon Build and Solar Decathlon Design competitions. Illinois Solar Decathlon is comprised of an executive board, a build competition team, a design competition team, and a concept team, which fosters skills and knowledge development for younger organization members.

Engagement Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) Ongoing

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 12, objective 1 is, "Create a hub for the sustainability community: to develop a comprehensive online gateway for faculty, staff, students, potential donors, and all interested parties to find information about sustainability research, education, outreach, initiatives, and operations." In the quest to become a pre-eminent research university with a land-grant mission and global impact, integrating sustainable practices in our research, classes, and buildings – ev

Engagement Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC) Ongoing

The Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC) is the student-led body facilitating communications between campus sustainability and the student body as well as relationships among environmentalist student groups on campus.

Engagement Water Environment Federation (WEF) Ongoing

A brief introduction to Water Environment Federation - American Water Works Association (WEF-AWWA) Student Chapter UIUC

We have been involved in organizing events and meetings that orient students towards the water industry. 

Listed below are some of our past activities:

Research Opportunities Adaptive Aluminum Tensegrity Structure as a Bike Parking Canopy In Progress

Funded in Summer 2020, this project seeks to expand the sustainability and longevity of structural engineering by installing an aluminum bicycle canopy on the Engineering Quad.

Research Opportunities Agrivoltaics: Crop Production and Solar Panels on the Same Land In Progress

Global demand for food, energy, and water is increasing, which poses the challenge of how to meet these demands in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. At present, energy production is dominated by carbon-intensive fossil fuels; however, renewable energies are being integrated into the energy sector at an increasing rate. Bioenergy crops reduce dependence on fossil fuels, but the efficiency of crops converting sunlight to stored energy is low — and the water requirements from agronomic and industrial perspectives is high.

Research Opportunities City Traffic as a Reservoir System In Progress

Funded in Spring 2020, this project will introduce and test a method of inferring traffic accumulation (number of vehicles circulating in an area) from the measured flow of traffic in, out, and around major parking facilities.

Research Opportunities Creating Adaptable Autonomous Systems for Energy-Efficient Buildings In Progress

A large body of research exists on robots and autonomous technology, but still little understanding of how to integrate them into everyday life. While people seem relatively comfortable with a Roomba vaccum, a subservient robot, they might be less willing to let technology assist in other areas of their living space. However, adapting technology into the home could have significantly positive benefits for the occupant. 

Research Opportunities Environment-Enhancing Food, Energy, and Water Systems In Progress

The world’s food, energy, and water systems are tightly connected. Sometimes, they work seamlessly together, but often they are competing for the same pool of resources, namely fresh water and clean energy.

Research Opportunities Faculty/Staff Crowdsourced Community Program In Progress

This project, funded in late Fall 2019, targets reducing single-occupancy vehicle usage via a Crowdsourced Commuting (CC) Program, a ridesharing system that provides user-oriented service to travelers — especially commuters — by aggregating similar travel demands through online platforms such as smartphone apps.

Research Opportunities Geothermal: Thermo-Hydraulic Properties of Glacial Tills In Progress

Geothermal energy is stored in the Earth that humans can extract, process and then use. It is cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable. Capturing heat from the Earth to run a college campus would lower the U of I’s reliance on fossil fuels and help the university meet the goals set out in the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP).

Research Opportunities Integrating Groundwater Resources and Geothermal Energy for Water-Energy Security and Resilience In Progress

Funded in Spring 2020, this project aims to enhance water and energy security and resilience in urban systems, agricultural applications, and military bases by using groundwater resources and geothermal energy as an integrated system. Potential applications will improve military readiness and urban resilience to climate change by providing reliable indoor climate control and uninterrupted access to water.

Research Opportunities I-PLACES Living Laboratory In Progress

Funded in Spring 2021, this project seeks to implement an on-campus living laboratory to study a sustainable agricultural system that integrates three elements: a traditional corn/soybean rotation, cover crop seeding, and cattle grazing. 

Research Opportunities Student Mobility on and around the Illinois campus In Progress

As different generations of individuals change and evolve, so may their transportation habits. However, it’s still an open question as to why younger individuals are shifting to driving less and owning fewer cars. On a college campus, students learn how to depend less on cars and more on public transit, bicycles, and walking.

Research Opportunities Testing Geopolymer Performance in a Geothermal Exchange System In Progress

An Illinois Energy Farm building with a geothermal exchange system will test a new, unique building material in the floor slab. Geopolymers, concrete-like alternatives, are a more eco-friendly building material. This research will assess the geopolymer-based construction materials performance in a structure using geothermal energy.

A geothermal exchange system heat and cools a structure. Illinois is studying the use of geothermal energy in other areas of campus as a viable power source (see project at top of page).  

Purpose of the Work: Campus Connection

Research Opportunities Thermochemical Batteries: Turning Waste Heat into an Energy Source In Progress

In everyday life, we think of heat as a measure of temperature. To engineers, however, heat is actually a signal of energy transfer — the “heat” you feel is energy being transferred from a warmer thing to a cooler one.

Research Opportunities Wind Turbine/Pavilion Integration for Electricity Generation In Progress

This project, funded in late Fall 2019, aims to demonstrate a new way in which a pavilion can achieve sustainability by installing an on-site wind turbine as an energy-generating system.

An innovative, aerodynamic design will enable micro-wind turbines to fit within an organic sculpture in the built environment with aesthetic integrity. The outcome of the project is a parking pavilion that can also work as a charging station for electric cars, bikes, or scooters.

Map of projects

Project Updates