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All Project Updates



  1. Weekly Update: CBC Fix-it staion operational

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Not a whole lot to report: The Bike Center Fix It pump is operational and I’ll be meeting this week about marketing to get the word out. I got an email not 12 hours after visiting the new Flagg Hall covered bike parking asking if it was operational, funnily enough. Parking tagged the bike that was locked up out front of the Bike Center. It was probably a donation but doing our due diligence on that.

    This week student staff will start and we’ll work through some more bike builds.


    The numbers:

    Visitors: 6
    Sales: $59
    Memberships: 1 for $30
    Misc: $29

    Jacob Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  2. Local Solar projects shared at CCNet brownbag

    CCNet hosted several local solar panelists in January 2021:

    Join the CCNet mailing list to gain access to the Zoom and stay connected.

    This Zoom meeting was also shared via Facebook Live: 

  3. Energy iCAP Team Meeting Minutes from 1-21-21

    The Energy iCAP Team had their first meeting of the Spring semester on January 21st, 2021. The meeting focused on obtaining supporting materials for a recommendation to start the Comprehensive Energy Plan, which will serve as an university-wide guide on energy conservation. A recommendation to model buildings for energy code compliance will likely be ready next month. Future discussions are planned with F&S representatives. A subcommittee of Energy team members will brainstorm concrete actions on energy efficiency in labs and residence halls. The agenda and meeting minutes are attached. 

  4. 2020 Tree Care Plan submitted to Tree Campus USA

    Associated Project(s): 

    Please see the attached to file to find the University's 2020 Tree Care Plan.

    The University’s plan included progress made over the last year to make our campus more tree friendly, along with outlining the landscape standards we have on campus. Highlights of projects related to trees are also included.  The committee submitted this document at the end of the year to Tree Campus USA as to fulfill one of many commitments to be a recognized Tree Campus. 

    Attached Files: 
  5. Weekly Update: Donations, moved from the old place

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Slow week, of course. An uptick in donations of parts/bikes. Got a nice hybrid Giant bike that is already fixed up and ready to sell.

    We are almost totally and completely moved out of our former garage home. It’s actually a lot of square footage in there once you remove all the stuff accumulated over the last 11 years or so!

    This week will be scheduling, semester prep, and more work to get the outdoor bike pump fixed up and operational for the few hearty winter cyclists.  

    The numbers:
    Visitors: 10
    Sales: $196
    Memberships: 2 for $60
    Bike (refurb): 1 for $120
    Misc: $16


    Jacob Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  6. Bike Month planning meeting

    The Bike Month planning team met today, with representatives from several areas across Champaign County.

    1) CU Safe Routes to School - planned for May 5 - Urban Planning student is an intern for CU-SRTS. They are also working on a safe routes to parks program.

    2) Champaign County Bikes - Charlie Smyth is the chair of CCB this year.  They will have a new website in a few days.  They still need one more board member for this year.  They talked with Amelia Neptune at the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), and Charlie shared several points about the national outlook.

    3) This group will plan virtual events for the spring, and meet again in February.

  7. archived info - previous project description

    Associated Project(s): 

    From the 2010 iCAP:

    The projected carbon emissions for a business-as-usual scenario show significant increases in emissions due to additional square footage. The University will pursue strategies that slow the amount of increased square footage by judiciously examin- ing existing space. The business-as-usual projection also presumes energy efficien- cy at historic levels. The University has implemented green building requirements that should improve performance levels, including a LEED Silver certification re- quirement for major new buildings and renovations. Results by the Rocky Moun- tain Institute show that there is no correlation between the level of LEED achieved by a building project and the project cost.19 Further, federal, state and local codes, ASHRAE, and AIA are targeting widespread deployment of net-zero commercial buildings by 2030, and the Department of Energy is seeking to make net-zero buildings financially viable by 2025. A net-zero building is one that generates as much energy as it uses over the course of an average calendar year. Projects that seek to do better than meet minimum campus standards should receive campus support or credit for the improvements compared to the baseline.

    The campus will implement a freeze on new buildings and building additions once current planned projects are completed. Any new space must take an existing space of equal or greater size (or of equal or greater energy usage) out of commis- sion. Furthermore, any building retrofit will be required to “do no harm”; that is, it should not increase the energy consumption of a building—if necessary by pack- aging together additional energy conservation and renewables as part of a project. New building projects will be net-zero or replace an existing building. These can be facilitated by a marketplace for space. All projects currently in planning require at least a 30 percent improvement in the proposed building performance rating compared with the baseline building performance rating, as calculated using the latest version of ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1. Finally, the campus space market will include the demolition of certain buildings with poor energy performance, high deferred maintenance burdens, and low his- torical value. Campus buildings that are seen as approaching a deferred mainte- nance deficiency value that is higher than their current replacement value will be considered for removal or renovation.20

  8. archived info - previous project description and background, pre iCAP 2020

    Associated Project(s): 


    The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 3, is "Expand the purchase of clean energy. By FY20, obtain at least 120,000 MWh, and by FY25 at least 140,000 MWh from low-carbon energy sources. These targets represent 48% and 56% of our expected 2050 electricity demand, respectively." There are several methods for increasing campus clean energy use: on-campus renewable energy generation (such as the Solar Farm), off-campus power purchase agreements (such as the Wind PPA), the purchase of Renewable Energy Certifications (such as the FY15 RECs purchase), and clean energy provided through the grid purchased electricity (see MISO).


    Generate Renewable Energy On-Campus

    Renewable energy on campus is one of the most important clean energy sources. Solar farm is the main project, geothermal is a promising method, combined with biomass, etc., the proportion of renewable energy is increasing.

    Enter into Power Purchase Agreements

    A power purchase agreement (PPA) is a contract with an energy generation facility. A long-term PPA with a renewable energy generation facility could enable the construction of new renewable energy generation. At the time of this writing, the most economical renewable PPAs are for wind energy from large farms of wind turbines, but we expect that other types of renewable PPAs may become affordable in the future.

    Although nuclear power is not considered renewable, an existing nuclear power plant produces no carbon dioxide emissions and can help us meet our emissions goals. A PPA with a nuclear power plant would enable us to purchase energy from a zero-carbon source.

    Buy Renewable Energy Certificates

    Electrical output from both renewable and nonrenewable power sources are combined in a regionaltransmission grid. In order for a consumer to claim the use of renewable energy, it must own the associated Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), each of which represents the environmental attributes of 1 MWh of renewable electricity generation.

    Only the owners of RECs can claim that they are using renewable energy. For example, if a wind farm operator sells its electricity to one party but sells the associated RECs to a second party, only the second party can claim to be using green energy. To qualify as renewable, any energy the campus purchases must be bundled with RECs, and the campus must retain the RECs for any renewable energy it produces. Therefore, the forthcoming Solar Farm will count toward our renewable energy goals only so long as campus does not sell the associated RECs.

    Another method to increase our use of renewable energy is to separately purchase “unbundled” RECs, without purchasing power from the same generation source. For example, we could purchase power from a coal plant, but purchase a corresponding number of RECs from a wind farm (in this case, the wind farm would sell its electricity without the environmental attributes to a customer who is not willing to pay for the environmental attributes). The purchase of unbundled RECs reduces our carbon footprint according to generally accepted carbon accounting procedures, but it is not clear if it adds renewable energy to the grid.

    In 2015, there was exceptionally low demand for RECs in our local grid region because there are no effective government standards requiring the purchase of renewable electricity. At the same time, a significant number of wind farms have been built and are profitable even without selling RECs (due in large part to a federal tax credit for wind production), leading to a very large supply of RECs. Given the low demand and the oversupply, prices for RECs are very low, and therefore it is not clear that the purchase of RECs really provides an incentive for generators to produce more renewable electricity, or that it leads to an actual reduction in overall global CO2 emissions.

    When unbundled RECs are purchased as part of a long-term contract, this can facilitate the construction of new renewable energy generation facilities. Long-term RECs contracts would also have the economic advantage of “locking in” the current low prices. Conversely, the voluntary purchase of short-term unbundled RECs from existing facilities does not add new renewable energy to the grid. For these reasons, the campus would have a greater environmental impact by purchasing long-term RECs contracts, either bundled with renewable energy in a PPA, or unbundled.

    Low-Carbon Grid Purchased Electricity

    Approximately half of the campus electrical demand is purchased through the MISO grid.  In FY15, the grid purchased electricity included over 10% from low-carbon sources.  Because the RECs are not included when campus buys the energy, it is unclear who can claim the use of that clean energy.  With the new energy bill passed in 2017, there are changes to the requirements for campus’ participation in the Renewable Portfolio Standard.  As these requirements and associated benefits of low-carbon energy in the grid become clarified, it may be determined that the grid’s clean energy can be included in the total campus clean energy usage.

  9. archived info - previous project description, pre iCAP 2020

    Associated Project(s): 

    Assuming that our conservation efforts will cut our energy needs in half, we will have to find ways to produce and/or purchase roughly 250,000 MWh/yr of electricity and 250,000 MWh/yr of heat in a carbon-neutral manner.  Campus has made good progress in reducing GHG emissions since FY08, largely due to improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings.  Looking ahead, we expect to see continued reductions due to improvements in energy efficiency and additional energy conservation efforts.  However, in order to achieve zero GHG emissions, it is also necessary to change the way we generate, distribute, and purchase power.

  10. controls on HVAC units - note

    Associated Project(s): 

    I would note that the room level controls at the National Soybean Research Center have been upgraded to DDC in the past year.  We plan to do this in the ACES Library in 2021.  We have invested in Turner Hall w/ control upgrades and RCx work. The Ag Engineering building saw a recent project last year to upgrade to DDC controls and replace VAV boxes.  ~Karl Helmink, F&S RCx, january 2021

  11. Environmental Justice Plan Brainstorming Meeting

    On December 3, 2020, a small group of community and campus staff (Scott Tess, Morgan White, Ximing Cai, Sharva Hampton-Campbell, Kaamilyah Abdullah-Span, Ruby Mendenhall, Meredith Moore) brainstormed key principles of the environmental justice plan (iCAP 2020 objective 8.3). The notes from this initial meeting is attached and the group will continue to meet monthly. 

  12. Weekly Update - Word of mouth, Bike donations

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Pretty slow around these parts—per usual for this time of year.

    A story: A gentleman comes in on Wednesday looking for bikes. We get to talking and he’s volunteered at Working Bikes (the org we give abandoned bikes to) up in Chicago, he knows his way around a wrench. He buys a nice road bike and that was that. An hour later, he brings a friend back; she signs up for a membership. Two days later, same guy is back with another friend; he buys a membership, too. Says they’ll both be back on Monday to work on a bike. Word of mouth really is the best marketing.

    This week I’ll still be processing the donations from the kids bike event that were not kids bikes. We got a lot of adult-sized bikes that aren’t worth saving, unfortunately.
    The numbers:

    Visitors: 11
    Sales: $254
    Memberships: 2 for $60
    Misc: $4


    Jacob Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  13. Weekly Update: Happy New Year, Kids bike giveaway

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Happy New Year! The final week of the semester—and the two weeks preceding it—were a whirl of kid bike prep for our event, which took place on December 19th.
    Here’s a story CI Living did on the event:
    We gave away 40+ bikes in less than half an hour and our community really came through in providing those donations on such a short time frame.
    This week will be a lot of cleaning and organizing—kids bike parts are strewn every which way as we hustled to get the bikes finished—and an inventory once-over to see where we stand on parts and bikes.
    The numbers:

    Visitors: 7
    Sales: $19

    Jacob Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  14. Some Coal Plants in Illinois to be shut down


    The company also announced its next phase of coal plant closures in Illinois and Ohio with a combined capacity of more than 6.8 GW, by 2027. The plan has the following timeline:

    • End of 2022: Edwards Power plant, Bartonville, Illinois, 585 MW, in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.
    • End of 2025: Baldwin Power Plant, Baldwin, Illinois, 1,185 MW; Joppa Power Plant, Joppa, Illinois, 1,002 MW (plus 239 MW of gas turbines), both in MISO.
    • End of 2027: Newton Power Plant, Newton, Illinois, 615 MW, in MISO; and Kincaid Power plant, Kincaid, Illinois, 1,108 MW, Miami Fort Power Plant, North Bend, Ohio, 1,020 MW, and Zimmer Power Plant, Moscow, Ohio, 1,300 MW, all three in the PJM Interconnection.

    "These plants, especially those operating in the irreparably dysfunctional MISO market, remain economically challenged," Vistra said in a Sept. 29 statement. "Today's retirement announcements are also prompted by upcoming Environmental Protection Agency filing deadlines, which require either significant capital expenditures for compliance or retirement declarations."