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Projects Updates for Student Sustainability Committee (SSC)

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  1. Zero Waste Funding Agreement

    This is a multi-pronged project with four areas of focus, all working toward our eventual goal of being a Zero Waste Campus.

    The largest portion of funding is going to add new recycling bins to areas north and east of the Main Quad as an expansion of the dual-bin recycling system currently used. The Main Quad bins have been very successful and this is a timely and needed expansion.

    Over the last few years, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) has been conducting waste audits of certain campus buildings such as the Swanlund Administration Building and the Business Instructional Facility. The second part of this proposal is supporting building-specific solutions for each of the eight buildings that were audited. Staff from ISTC will work with building stakeholders to identify how to reduce their waste, then implement the new measures.

    Several other new waste streams, such as nitrile gloves and Styrofoam, have been added to campus’s waste diversion efforts recently. The third part of this proposal will employ student employees to conduct campuswide outreach with buildings on campus to improve participation in these new initiatives.

    Finally, a small amount of money is being set aside for education and outreach to the campus community regarding zero waste efforts. This will largely occur via social media advertisements and digital signage, and will be developed in conjunction with SSC’s own subcommittee for marketing.

  2. SAFS Flour Mill Funding Agreement

    This project allows campus to process wheat and oats grown on several of the UIUC campus farms into a finished flour product that will be utilized in the UIUC Campus Dining Halls. There are currently ~20 acres of ground planted in wheat/oats on the Urbana campus as part of large breeding program, and many more acres available off of the direct Urbana campus. Additionally, the University has significant acreage on campus that could be converted to grain production if needed.

    Each acre of wheat produces 40-80 bushels of grain (2400-4800 lbs) depending on variety, producing up to ~4000 typical loaves of bread. The varieties of flour can be used to produce a number of products (bread, pastries, cakes, pasta, biscuits, etc.). One of the more exciting possibilities is making pizza dough to combine with the pizza sauce project already running, bringing campus dining very near an entirely locally produced pizza product.

  3. SH Solar Funding Agreement

    One of the strategies outlined in the Illinois Climate Action Plan is a significant increase in the amount of solar energy on campus, which would include rooftop panels as part of the plan. Toward that end, SSC is funding an 11-kilowatt array on the roof of the Speech and Hearing Building. This specific location was selected due to its viability, visibility, and location near the heart of campus.

  4. Sonified 2017 Funding Agreement

    The Sonified Sustainability Festival provides a new way for sustainability to intersect with campus – through the arts. The 2016 Sonified Sustainability Festival, funded in part by SSC, was developed as a 2016 Earth Week kick-off event focusing on sustainable practices in the arts featuring live music, interactive art making, and information fair to provide greater visibility of local projects, programs and organizations working towards a sustainable future. National and local musicians performing on original instruments made from recycled and repurposed materials were showcased at the Earth Week event, as well as two prior events at the Krannert Art Museum

    The goals and outcomes of the next year of the festival will be similar, while expanding on the successes of the past. The events will encompass a series of music and arts programs spanning the 2016-17 academic year. The culmination is an Earth week event at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts that features a mix of live music, art making and information fair promoting campus-based and local organizations engaged with sustainability projects.

  5. Soil Sample Funding Agreement

    There is a growing interest in doing several native plantings at specific buildings and undeveloped areas around campus. However, there is no real information on the soil at these locations. This project is looking to provide the data needed to successfully and efficiently manage these planting projects. Several students will take soil core samples from each site and provide the samples to a commercial lab. The data will all be analyzed in comparable manner by the same lab. The project team will take 170 samples/subsamples with an 8” soil probe from these sites. The project team, Facilities and Services, and interested faculty and students will select these sites. The goal is to have an initial database of certain buildings and sites with usable soil sampling data: pH, fertility, and basic grain size. The analysis of the samples can be complete within two months of sampling.

  6. Skip the Bag Funding Agreement

    Campus currently gives out tens of thousands of single-use plastic bags every year through its retail operations, including more than 50,000 each year at the Illini Union Bookstore alone. This proposal seeks to address waste by offering reusable bags via a partnership with on-campus traditions and university-affiliated retailers.

    Approximately 20,000 bags will be supplied to students alongside an educational campaign about the impact of bag waste. The combination of replacing plastic bags with cloth reusable ones and an educational campaign to ensure reuse is projected to save hundreds of gallons of oil and thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions.

  7. Our Budding Biomass Boiler

    Developing and implementing new alternative energy sources is essential to ending the era of fossil fuels and extreme carbon emissions. The more alternative energy sources available, the more potential there is for eradicating fossil fuels as the main energy source. Numerous different innovations have developed within the last few decades because of the massive increase in technology efficiency, and the U of I has taken the initiative to implement many of them. These strides toward alternatives increased after the university committed to cease using coal at Abbott by 2017. The replacement of this power will require as many alternatives available as possible in order to meet the growing need.

    Biomass energy is a great example of how the University of Illinois is converting to more renewable energy sources. Biomass can be used to create energy because it contains stored energy from plants that have absorbed energy from the sun through the process of photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, this stored energy is released as heat.

    In the Spring of 2014 the SSC funded, Field to Fuel: Biomass Heating on Campus. This project involved purchasing and installing a biomass boiler at the Energy Farm, in order to heat a research greenhouse using Miscanthus that is grown on the Energy Farm. The new biomass boiler arrived in early December, and installation is nearing completion!

    This project is exciting because it is the first biomass energy initiative on campus, and it will work to meet the carbon emission caps that are outlined in the Illinois Climate Action Plan. Additionally, with this project, they hope to demonstrate the feasibility of biomass on campus, engage and familiarize faculty and staff personnel with the design, installation, and operation of such systems with a view to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy production on campus, support the education and training of students, and create awareness in the larger community about alternative energy sources. The ultimate hope for the project is that a successful pilot will pave the way toward expanded use of biomass heating on our campus and greatly reduce our campus greenhouse gas emissions.

  8. IBI Funding Agreement

    The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI) is a registered student organization whose primary mission is to produce biodiesel and soap from waste vegetable oil (WVO) collected from campus dining halls. The Student Sustainability Committee initially voted to fund the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative during its 2012-13 funding cycle; however, due IBI being forced out of their old site at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, SSC funding was put on hold. While they wait for their permanent site in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, IBI is currently running scaled-down production in a space in Roger Adams Laboratory.

    This project helps IBI to rebuild production up to previous levels at the ISTC, where they were self-funding. An infusion of funding over the next year is critical to allow the IBI to grow and develop into a self-funding organization.

    Agreements are already in place with Campus Fleet and Campus Dining for the sale of biodiesel and soap, respectively.

  9. Gadget ADA Funding Agreement

    The Illini Gadget Garage is an initiative to provide University of Illinois students, faculty, and staff a place to bring their personal electronic devices for assistance with assessment and repair. Using the same “collaborative repair” model employed at the campus bike shop and MakerSpace Urbana, clients with devices in need of repair or troubleshooting can work together with Gadget Garage student staff and volunteers to perform the necessary device assessment and maintenance activities.

    SSC initially funded this project in Fiscal Year 2015, contingent on a permanent site being established. A permanent location has been selected and partially renovated; however, in order to meet the accessibility requirements for final occupancy, additional construction is required.

    This proposal directly funds the construction cost from skilled trades to add ramp access and other code requirements to the Gadget Garage’s permanent location to allow for general occupancy.

  10. Fume Hood Energy Conservation Pilot Project - Funding Letter

    Fume hoods are one of the largest sources of wasted energy in laboratories because of inefficiencies in fume hood use. This proposal specifically funds a Fume Hood Energy Conservation Pilot Project in the National Soybean Research Center (NSRC), in which ways to reduce fume hood energy waste through behavioral interventions will be explored.

    Small changes in behavior such as keeping hoods closed when not in use can have large impacts on energy conservation, but behavioral changes can be difficult to achieve. This project adapts Harvard University’s highly successful “Shut the Sash” program to the particular needs of Labs in NSRC, first by working closely with “early adopters” — labs that are actively interested in reducing fume hood energy use — to develop protocols, reminders, and reinforcement/tracking systems that help reduce fume hood-associated energy waste, and then by reaching out to other labs in NSRC. The long-term project goals are to make NSRC a model for the campus in fume hood energy conservation, and to develop an approach to fume hood energy conservation which can be readily applied to other labs and buildings on campus.

  11. Solar Car Small and Full project Funding Agreement

    Illini Solar Car was established last year with aims to design, build, and race a commercially-viable, solar-electric vehicle to compete in the 2019 World Solar Challenge. To meet this long term goal, the organization has the interim goals of building a lighter, single-seat vehicle to allow for competition in the 2016 American Solar Challenge, 2017 World Solar Challenge, and 2018 American Solar Challenge.

    Illinois Solar Car has already received two small grants of under $5,000 each to work on prototyping aspects of their system. Though they have received significant donations of equipment such as solar panels and motors from outside companies, basic supplies to manufacture the car itself still must be purchased.

    The full project funds the remaining costs associated with completing Solar Car’s first full-sized vehicle, with the expectation that having one completed vehicle opens the door for expanded funding opportunities from other sponsors.

  12. SAFS Fermentation - Spring 1 2015 Agreement

    The Sustainable Student Farm currently grows numerous varieties of hot chilies, but demand is often lacking in the dining halls over the summer and excess crops are simply composted. One option to help reduce this waste is adding fermentation capabilities to the current Sustainable Agriculture Food Systems to create hot sauce for the dining halls. One especially exciting aspect of this project is that the student body itself will have the opportunity to create different blends of sauces, with the winner of the taste test becoming the official hot sauce for the semester.

    While this equipment will initially be used to create campus’s hot sauce, it can also be used in the future to create products ranging from sauerkraut and pickles to soy sauce and kombucha.

  13. FLB Green Lighting Funding Agreement

    Hallways in the Foreign Language Building, especially on the upper floors, may go long periods with no traffic. However, the overhead lighting is always on, which is extremely energy inefficient. This project aims to replace some of the overhead lighting with more energy efficient options and install occupancy sensors to automatically dim the lights when people are not present.

  14. Geothermal Profiling Funding Agreement

    Given the University of Illinois’ existing reliance on coal-fired steam heating for many buildings, significant changes to campus infrastructure will be required in order to move to being truly carbon neutral. One possible option is geothermal heating, but there is somewhat of a lack of information about the feasibility of geothermal systems on campus.

    This project will conduct a series of high-detail observations of the geothermal profile of campus and analyze the data. The results of the study will help identify the costs and possible challenges associated with adding a significant amount of geothermal heating systems to campus.

  15. Award Letter - Gadget Garage

    ISTC proposes to launch a center, using seed funding from SSC, where UI students and staff will bring their personal electronic devices for assistance with assessment and repair. We call this center the Illini Gadget Garage (hereafter referred to as “Gadget Garage” or “Garage”).
    Using the same “collaborative repair” model employed at the campus bike shop and MakerSpace Urbana (http://makerspaceurbana.org/projects/computer-help-desk/), clients with devices in need of repair/troubleshooting will work together with Gadget Garage student staff and volunteers to perform the necessary device assessment and maintenance activities. Depending upon the situation, activities may range from guidance on how to make your computer/device run faster to actual repair and replacement of components.

    Desired outcomes for students, staff, and the community include:

    1. Hands on experiences for UI students, not only in terms of performing repairs, but also in process documentation and fostering sustainable behavior on a larger scale through the iFixit Technical Writing Project; marketing and business operations; lessons in industrial design for repair and recyclability; and in environmental education and communication.
    2. Increased awareness of electronics laws and recycling options.
    3. Increased awareness of sustainability issues surrounding electronic products throughout their lifecycles.
    4. Decreased misconceptions regarding the disposability of devices and prohibitive complexity of electronics repair and maintenance.
    5. Contribution to the overall efforts to make ours a more sustainable campus with a reduced carbon footprint.
  16. Award Letter - Biomass for Vermicomposting

    The SSC awarded the Sustainable Student Farm a grant in 2013 to build a transplant greenhouse that also housed a vermicomposting pilot porject with Dining Services. This was meant to test the feasability of collecting pre-consumer food waste from the Dining hall facilities and converting it into worm compost for use on the student farm. In its first year of operation the greenhouse has been heated soley from propane, which is the most common and simplest heating system for these types of greenhouses. The nature of the worms used in this type of composting require an ideal temperature range of 40-80F. In order to attain this, the greenhouse needs to be heated during the winter months.

    In 2014 the greenhouse consumed approximately 1600 gallons of propane for heating. At an average price of $2 this equals $3200/year in heating costs. By comparison if the biomass furnace is used and can replace 80% of the heating requirements that would only cost $1664/year in heating costs. The main reaplacement fuel would be #2 Shell Corn @ 15% moisture. This is readily available in the midwest and costs on average about $3.5/bushel. It would take about 366 bushels of corn to replace the BTU’s provided by the propane. The nature of managing the biomass furnace would allow us to replace only 80% of the heating requirements for the greenhouse. Future development of these furnaces could one day replace the requirement completely. However, the propane system will be kept as a back up.

  17. Award Letter - Operation Enduring Frigidity - FA2014

    The School of Chemical Sciences houses a data center in Noyes Laboratory which is the home to more than 30 racks of computers. These machines are used by the Chemistry Learning Center, which serves all undergraduate students in General Chemistry courses, the departments of Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and are used constantly by faculty and graduate students. The goal of this project is to make the server room more energy efficient so as to reduce both the financial and environmental impact on the university.

    This is a multi-phase project with the plan being each phase will take steps towards energy reduction. (1) Install power monitors in the panels so we can collect data on how much electricity is consumed by the machine room, (2) Contain the cold aisle so that hot and cold air do not mix, (3) install new hardware into the HVAC units so that they can communicate with each other so they will not fight, and (4) install a heat exchanger for use during winter. Steps 3 and 4 are planned for a future date.

  18. Award Letter - Baseline Waste Characterization

    The primary deliverable of this proposed project is to provide a detailed waste characterization assessment for three facilities located throughout the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls (LAR), Business Instructional Facility (BIF), Roger Adams Laboratory(RAL) are facilities that will be characterized.
    This proposal builds upon the initial waste characterizations conducted in the Spring of 2013 for four buildings: Henry Administration Building, Alice Campbell Alumni Center, Swanlund Administration Building, and Illini Union Bookstore.
    The objective of the assessments is to characterize the waste generated from a Lab building, a classroom building and a housing building. The primary goal of the waste stream characterization study is to provide UIUC with an accurate and precise baseline measurement of the solid waste generated at each facility type. ISTC will assist F&S in identifying and implementing practices and technologies that will reduce waste, increase landfill diversion, increase recycling revenues, and decrease waste disposal costs. These efforts will help UIUC to become an example of a sustainable campus, and will provide new learning and teaching opportunities for the university and community at large. The ancillary deliverables are various direct educational programing opportunities both structured as well as passive.

  19. Arboretum Native Plantings Award Letter

    The University of Illinois Arboretum has historically showcased formal displays of annual ornamental plants and selected trees. There is increased interest in developing plots and displays of native plants, especially those that are beneficial to pollinators. This project will introduce a variety of such native plants into several settings at the Arboretum. The Arboretum intends to use the plantings as an outdoor laboratory that will be used for formal and informal education about the role of native plants in provision of ecosystem services such as pollination adn improving soil quality. The experience gained will lay the ground work for future expansion of the concept including large plantings within selected locations and patches of clearly labeled plants that will allow visitors to learn their names and characteristics.
    The plantings will also provide physical examples of how small plantings can be used in personal and commercial landscapes. The use of perennial native plants will help the Arboretum assess the potential to save money and other resources by using more plants that do not have to be repurchased and replanted annually. The native plants along with improved habitat conditions will support a large number of local pollinators and other insect and bird species that are increasingly threatened by loss of habitat, and provide an instructional resource for university classes and local schools.

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