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Projects Updates for NRES 285: Sustainability Metrics and Evaluation Techniques

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  1. NRES 285 Final Reports for Uni High (2022)

    Below is an email exchange involving the NRES 285 Uni High reports:

    Dear Director Elizabeth Majerus and Karl Radnitzer,


    You both are the first recipients of the final sustainability written report and class presentation! For Karl, our team worked in conjunction with Don Marrow, and with you fulfilling his position, we wanted you to have a copy of this report. We hope that you both enjoy the report, and that it helps Uni!



    John Michelotti


    Hi John,


    Thanks for the report. I have printed it out and plan to read after school ends (May 27th). Thank you for your work.




    Thank you for planning to read it, and you’re absolutely welcome for our work. Have a good last stretch up until the end of school.



    John Michelotti


    Hi John,


    Fist of all I noticed you were in Koinonia House. I have two of my friends that were in that house- Tim and Paul Manning. Do you know them? They would have graduated in the late 70s or early 80s but are very active alumni.


    I have included Don Marrow (our Business manager) and Elizabeth Majerus ( our Director of the School). The part in red is where is where we need money to complete the projects Don and Elizabeth.


    I have read the report. I want to do the following:


    1. I will have 8 paper recycle containers on each floor- clearing marked. Should I spray paint them green or blue?
    2. Make sure all black containers are for garbage/trash only so we don't find contamination in all recycling bins.
    3. The issue with the steel door our previous business manager wanted the wooden doors.  Didn't have much say
    4. I would like all lights motions to switched to sensor LED. Don how do we make that happen?
    5. We realize our windows are not very effective. We need a complete overhaul of our windows.
    6. We did have a group talk to us about food recycling, but they wanted to do the composting inside the building. That was not going to work.
    1. On the land section, I have a boy scout do his eagle project on the area right outside the door on Springfield so that it now looks much better. We also have a club taking care of the small garden.
    2. Don, how can we get more sensor water bottle filters on each floor.. We have one on third, we need on second near 206 and one near 106 N.


    I will be back in town July 6th. Maybe we can touch base.





    Dear Eric and Meredith,


    I hope each of your summers are restful and going well! I received this email today, along with one other that I will also forward, from Karl Radnitzer at Uni High. They are responses sent to me, Elizabeth Majerus, and Don Marrow—for some reason you both and the students were not included, but I think it’s because I sent out the files to him. I wanted you both to be aware so that you can appropriately respond whenever you can. I will tell him I’m forwarding this all to you both and thank him for his outlook on making changes. Thank you so much!



    John Michelotti


    Hi Morgan, Paul, Andy, and Karl,

    Last semester, the NRES285 students worked on a sustainability assessment of Uni High. Karl Radnitzer (Associate Director for Student Life at Uni High) expressed interest in moving forward with a few initiatives, as follows:

    1. I would like all lights motions to switched to sensor LED. Don how do we make that happen?
    2. We realize our windows are not very effective. We need a complete overhaul of our windows.
    1. Don, how can we get more sensor water bottle filters on each floor.. We have one on third, we need on second near 206 and one near 106 N.

    I am wondering if any of you have information on how we can move forward with any of these items. If there is someone else I should reach out to, please let me know. Thanks so much!


  2. The Sustainability of the Photovoltaic Solar Panels on the Roof of Business Instructional Facility

    The photovoltaic panels on LEED Platinum certified Business Instructional Facility (BIF) rooftop harvests solar radiation as a clean renewable energy source for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign facility. The solar system has a combined maximum output of 40 kilowatt per hour (kWh), and has an annual production of 60,000 kWh. The system is expected to produce approximately eight percent of the building’s total electricity demand. However, solar panels require unobstructed access to solar radiation for most or all of the day to be effective

    Attached Files: 
  3. Sustainability Assessment of small-scale Outdoor Wood Burning Appliances

    In this case study, an Outdoor Wood Burning appliance was installed in central Illinois as a biomass substitute for existing natural gas heating.  The location is owned by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is operated under the name Allerton Park.  Allerton Park is a 1,500 acre estate with numerous woodland, riparian, and prairie areas.   This location was selected by the University’s Student Sustainability Committee which disperses student fees allocated for sustainability improvements.  The visitor center and several workshops at Allerton Park used a 1960 boiler/heating unit that was expensive to run and produced excessive CO2 emissions.

  4. Sustainability Analysis of the Campus Bike Center

    The Campus Bike Center opened for business in May 2010, funded by The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, a grant from the Student Sustainability Committee, the Center for a Sustainable Environment, and supplementary funding from the Facilities and Services Department at UIUC[1]. The Center offers a hands-on, educational space in which students and community members can have access to knowledge and experience in maintaining and fixing bicycles, as well as all of the necessary tools and products to do so. The Center’s outlined mission is to teach bicycle maintenance, providing access to affordable equipment, support overall safety education, and participate in campus bicycle community outreach2. The Center also has described goals for sustainability; to contribute towards the ICAP goal to reduce transportation emissions by 50% in 2025, support those who use bicycles for transportation, to make bikes a more feasible alternative to motor vehicles on this campus, and to expand these efforts even more through increased outreach and publicity efforts, increased staff capacity, more events outside of the shop to reach new audiences, more refurbished bikes to sell to students, and more courses, workshops, and demonstrations to educate the campus about bikes2.

    [1] Neptune, Amelia. Bike Shop Student Sustainability Committee Application. UIUC ICAP Portal. 11 Nov 2012. Accessed 8 May 2014.



  5. GreenLink Project Assessment

    The University of Illinois is an educational institution that strives for excellence in sustainability. Under this new goal, many projects have been funded such as the green roof over the Link Gallery. The Link Gallery is a space used to exhibit student work and is wedged between the Art and Design Building and the Krannert Art Museum. The project, titled GreenLink, was proposed by Nan Goggins, the Director of the School of Art and Design, and David Akins, the Director of Art and Design Facilities in 2008[1]. The goal of this project was to make visible the concerns and interests of Fine and Applied Arts students and faculty in working collaboratively on “greening the art campus”. They also had the goals of lowering the heating and cooling costs for the Link space, as well as collecting and storing rainwater to water the gardens on either side of the Link Gallery.

    [1] The original GreenLink Proposal can be found via the iCAP portal.


    Attached Files: 
  6. KCPA LED Lobby Lighting

    In the words of Valerie Oliveiro, Assistant to the Senior Associate Director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, KCPA is “dedicated to the advancement of the education, research, and public engagement mission of the University of Illinois through the pursuit of excellence and innovation in the performing arts.”[1] These words exemplify the importance of KCPA to the campus community. A hub of social interaction and innovation, Krannert has a unique role as a leader and innovator in sustainability initiatives at the University of Illinois. This unique importance is what drove KCPA to the idea of implementing LED lighting in its lobby. After more than two years of research and experimentation, consideration to the developing goals of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) and joint funding from the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, KCPA finally decided to pull the trigger on The University’s largest LED lighting project.

    [1] Oliveiro, Valerie. ICECF Funding Proposal for the KCPA LED Lobby Lighting Retrofit Project. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois, September 17th, 2009


  7. student reports

         In March through May 2014, ten undergrads in NRES 285 chose to evaluate a variety of UIUC sustainability projects.  All of the projects selected were supported by financing from the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC).

    1. Solar photovoltaic system on BIF
    2. Solar thermal system on ARC
    3. Solar photovoltaic system and electric vehicles at Sustainable Student Farm (SSF)
    4. Wood-burning furnace at Allerton Park
    5. LEDs at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
    6. Green roof on Art & Design
    7. Vermicomposting at SSF
    8. Red Oak rain garden
    9. Prairie garden at Vet Med
    10. Bike shop

         The students were guided to ask questions about the effectiveness of the projects.  The objective was to develop evaluations of how well the projects achieved the relevant goals and what could be learned from these actions.

  8. Examining the Solar Thermal Panels at the Activities and Recreation Center

    For the Spring 2014 semester, I am enrolled in NRES 285 – a field course entitled Performance Metrics and Assessment Techniques for Sustainability Projects. This course utilizes experiential learning in order to gain hands-on experience with sustainability projects on the UIUC campus. In order to assess these initiatives it is necessary to evaluate effectiveness of the project, means of improvement, methods of communicating results, and suggestions for the future. In particular, a project I found particularly appealing is the solar thermal system at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) used to heat the indoor and outdoor pools.

    Attached Files: 
  9. Sustainable Student Farm Vermicomposting Project (I-Compost) Evaluation

    The Vermicomposting project (also known as I-Compost) in Sustainable Student Farm (SSF) began as part of the Transplant and Vermi-Composting Multiuse Greenhouse project. It is a pilot project to close the loop between the student farm and the university dining hall. The Transplant and Vermi-Composting Multiuse Greenhouse project received $65,222 grant from Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) on April 24, 2013. It also received $8,565 grant from the Office of Public Engagement on November 28, 2012 and $1,000 grant from Ernst & Young on March 21, 2012. The constructions of greenhouse and vermicomposting unit are completed on Fall 2013.

    Attached Files: 
  10. SSF Electric Vehicles and Solar Panels Analysis

    The goal of this project was to assess the success of the electric vehicles and solar panels on the Student Sustainable Farm (SSF). In 2010, through Engineering 298, the farm received a 1960 Allis-Challmers G Cultivating tractor that has been retrofitted to contain an electric powered motor. The following year, the same course began a new project to install 8 PV cell solar panels and charging station to service the SSF’s tractor. In 2012, a new course, Engineering 315, proposed and developed a project that would give the farm a delivery truck powered by an electric motor and a set of 24 PV solar panels and charging station to supply enough electricity for the truck’s daily use. As of now, all projects have been installed and are currently being used on the SSF except for the delivery truck, which has taken longer to construct than previously thought. The goal for all three projects is to offset the farm’s fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While these projects have been funded and constructed with the intent they will make significant reductions to the farms energy cost and reduce emissions, they have not been appropriately assessed after implementation to measure if these goals have truly been achieved. With the help of Zack Grant, the SSF manager, the expertise of my professors, and extensive research, I have developed measures reflecting the performance of these projects and the impact they’ve had. I’ve measured water savings, carbon savings, and cost savings in order to express how the Student Sustainability Committee’s (SSC) money has been spent. With this information, I hope to provide honest feedback to the SSC so they can maximize their investments and provide our campus with projects producing the greatest energy savings for the cost. My intent for this paper is to teach people what sustainable really is, not to suggest that this or any other SSC funded projects are bad. I truly believe the work of the SSC is essential to our campus for guiding our students to become stewards of sustainability.

    Attached Files: 
  11. Sustainability of the Prairie Garden at The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

    In 1820, Illinois contained 22 million acres of prairie, but due to modern intensive agricultural practices, only a few thousand remain today. Of high quality, remnant prairie, there are only 2,300 acres which mostly persist along railroads, in cemeteries, and in ground that is not fit for farming (DNR, 2014). Prairies are part of the history and culture of Illinois. The rich soils that grow so much food for people all over the country were formed under prairie landscapes. These grassland habitats have a lot of potential to continue providing ecosystem services for the citizens of Illinois, but first we have to recognize those ecosystem services and realize the value of the sustainability of prairie landscapes. Faculty at the University of Illinois Veterinary School and at the Illinois Natural History Survey have aimed to do just that through a prairie restoration project on the Veterinary Medicine campus.

    Attached Files: 
  12. Red Oak Rain Garden Project Assessment

    The major goal of this report is to quantify and qualify the impacts of Campus Red Oak Rain Garden project from University of Illinois on various metrics, including environmental, economic and educational contexts and to make suggestions for plan implementations of future projects. However, due to limited quantitative information, suggested impacts analysis is primarily based on literature reviews.

    Attached Files: 
  13. Meeting with F&S representatives

    Warren Lavey met with John Prince and Morgan Johnston to discuss the intentions for this course.  We reviewed the summer conversations with Jordan Williams and Claire Grogan about the Business Instructional Facility and the Occupancy Sensors.  There are a lot of projects that could be identified for this class to consider, and F&S would prefer to suggest projects with existing information and contact people.  Morgan agreed to provide a list by October 21 of potential projects for the class to review.