Student-led project propsed via a Student Sustainability Committee application in spring 2023. The project group is interested in circularizing an element of the university's economy by investigating how campus organic waste can feasibly be converted to green hydrogen or natural gas.
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Since the implementation of a 20,000 reusable container fleet in University Dining, additional outlets for the use of reusable containers on campus have been explored by the team. One such location is Beckman Cafe, which is a heavily to-go-centric vendor on campus that could benefit from a reduction in single-use plastics.
Students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Project Based Learning course proposed solar panels over parking lots, and Willard Airport executive director, Tim Bannon, was interested in possibly getting solar over the parking at the airport.
Perhaps the best option for decarbonizing thermal energy on campus is renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG is a drop-in solution that can be generated from a variety of technologies — most notably from upgrading biogas produced from anaerobic digestion — and used in existing infrastructure such as at Abbott Power Plant. Argonne National Laboratory publishes a database of RNG projects divided into the following categories: farms, food waste, landfills, wastewater treatment, and other waste.
Several colleges offer 100-level courses designed to onboard students and ease the transition into college life. By FY24, we aim to integrate a sustainability unit into each of these courses. We will pilot this program through, as an example, sections of the Grainger College of Engineering and the College of LAS. Each course will include a lesson designed to expose students to the iCAP goals and introduce practical applications of sustainability learning. For example, how can students, as members of campus and of society, apply sustainable practices to their education and daily lives?
The UIUC campus has several research labs across campus, with amazing cutting-edge research underway and accomplished over the last 150+ years. These research facilities are transformative for the global community, yet they also use a lot of energy and water and produce waste products. This project aims to integrate the iCAP objectives in the research areas on campus, through an open and concensus-based discussion with sustainability staff and research staff, as well as interested students and researchers.
The iCAP 2020 objective 7.4 is to "Incorporate sustainability-related problem solving in the GivePulse system for public engagement, and track local collaborations for sustainable solutions. Increase local collaborations by 10% per year from FY22 to FY24." The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is iSEE.
The iCAP 2020 objective 6.4 is to "Develop a sustainability internship program by partnering with businesses, nonprofits, local government, and cultural institutions in Central Illinois. The total number of internships awarded will be reported each year." The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is iSEE.
The iCAP 2020 objective 5.5 is to "Develop a detailed comprehensive plan including implementation and operational costs/benefits to sustainably dispose of all food scraps and other organics by FY24, and fully implement the plan by FY33." The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S.