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Projects Updates for Solar Farm 2.0

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  1. FY21 Green Power Partnership Renewed

    F&S completed the renewal of our recognition as a Green Power Partner through the US Environmental Protection Agency. Green Power Partners of our scale now have to use renewable power for seven percent of their annual consumption. Fortunately, the FY21 green power supply for FY21 was 9%, which is a +1.72% increase from the FY19 supply of 7.28%. See attached file.

    Overview submitted: 

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is proud of its sustainability initiatives and success in achieving Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) goals (https://icap.sustainability.illinois.edu/). The iCAP is the university’s strategic plan to meet the Climate Leadership Commitments, including being carbon neutral as soon as possible and building resilience to climate change in the local community.

    The Urbana campus on-site renewable energy portfolio meets more than 12 percent of annual electricity needs (https://fs.illinois.edu/services/utilities-energy/production/renewable-e...). UIUC’s Solar Farm 2.0 was energized in January 2021, producing 20,000 MWh/year. Combined with Solar Farm 1.0 and other rooftop and ground-mounted solar installations, the Urbana campus generates more than 27,000 MWh/year, ranking UIUC third amongst U.S. universities in on-site clean power production. Incorporating renewable energy continues to be a focus of new facility construction and major renovation projects. Most notably, the innovative Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building features 970 rooftop panels. Since production started in April 2019, 11 percent of all power supplied to the ECE Building has been from the array, while additional output is reserved for research and educational activities. In September 2016, the university also signed a ten-year wind power purchase agreement for 25 million kWh/year and the rights to the environmental attributes.

  2. STARS award finalists

    The University of Illinois has two submittals that are recognized as finalists for the 2021 Sustainability Awards:

    More information can be found at https://www.aashe.org/news/meet-the-2021-sustainability-award-finalists/. 

  3. This Week in Research

    What do giant grasses, micro grids, deep wells, and hydrogen-powered buses all have in common? They are all part of a clean energy future that is being imagined, created, and tested here at UIUC. The breadth of our energy research portfolio, across all of the campus and the broader C-U community, is truly impressive. Here are just a few examples:

    Solar Farm 2.0 will soon be home to a newly awarded, $10M project led by Madhu Khanna to optimize the design of "Agrivoltaics," or fields with both crops and solar panels to maintain crop production, produce renewable energy, and increase farm profitability. A few miles to the east, the Energy Farm boasts extensive test plots to study how to grow and use plants as biofuel. The farm is using a biomass boiler to replace propane as the fuel source for its main research greenhouse. The Energy Farm is also home to one of dozens of geothermal wells on campus that are helping scientists like Yu-Feng Lin develop better geothermal systems, while on the north side of campus, the new Campus Instructional Facility is heated and cooled with a state-of-the art geothermal system. Nuclear power is expected to play an important role in meeting our campus ICAP goals, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hosted a hearing last week to seek input on our plans to site a next-generation, micronuclear reactor near the Abbott Power Plant. Integrating renewable energy sources into the power grid presents unique challenges, and Illinois power system researchers, including Alejandro Domínguez-García, are working to develop microgrid technology to address issues of reliability and resilience. Meanwhile, researchers such as Petros Sofronis are working on a bold new vision for national leadership in the emerging hydrogen economy. (It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but the CUMTD just launched two hydrogen-powered, zero-emission buses—the first in the state!) 

    There is only one way I can wrap up a message about our campus energy research: The future looks bright, indeed!

    Sincerely,

    Susan

  4. Updated list of sustainability projects that need YOU!!!

    This is a list of projects that need students to work on.  It will be updated periodically by sustainability staff members, the last update was 8/30/21:

    • The campus MS4 stormwater permit currently has 49 Best Management Practices (BMPs) that have to be completed annually https://fs.illinois.edu/services/safety-and-compliance/about-the-program . One of the 49 BMPs is a Public Education and Outreach requirement to broadcast or publish one stormwater Public Service Announcement (PSA) on social media, radio, television and/or internet. We currently have a couple on our website and would like to keep it up to date with new materials whenever possible.  https://fs.illinois.edu/services/safety-and-compliance/about-the-program/events-and-outreach. Another opportunity is for a Public Participation and Involvement BMP to discuss and provide opportunity for public input on the Storm Water Program (permit BMPs), climate change and environmental justice topics. This could be met by webinars, PSAs, posters, etc. Contact is Betsy Liggett.
    • Develop informational messaging about SmartWay, get more UIUC departments aware of the program, and coordinate a related student event.  Contact Morgan White at mbwhite at illinois.edu.
    • Support the Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation (CCDCF) Board with their county-wide efforts for conservation and design.
    • Conduct a campus poll (fall semester 2021) regarding the Top 10 most iconic/significant/impressive trees on campus (including the arboretum). Develop an online survey tool (i.e., an online poll) whereby students and campus employees can nominate their favorite campus trees. Upon conclusion of the survey, work with Jay Hayek to tabulate and rank the results and create a publicly viewable ArcGIS Online StoryMap showcasing campuses Top Ten Trees. Prepare a presentation of results for the annual Arbor Day Celebration. Contact Jay Hayek at jhayek at illinois.edu.
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Illini Union.
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Huff Hall.
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: ECE Building.
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Armory.
    • Follow through with Facility Liaisons for implementation of recommendations from NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors class: Bevier Hall.
    • CCNet Website: Work with the Champaign County Sustainability Network (CCNet) leadership team to redesign and publish the CCNet website (old version is online at http://www.champaigncountynet.org/). There is a monthly brown bag sustainability networking event on the Third Thursday of each month, but the website hasn't been updated since 2016. Contact Morgan White at mbwhite at illinois.edu.
    • We are seeking a student volunteer who can do tree identification for a series of trees in the Arboretum, and work with the University Landscape Architect, Brent Lewis, and the Superintendent of Grounds, Ryan Welch, to compare the tree identification to the draft tree inventory. Contact Morgan White at mbwhite at illinois.edu.
    • Work on outlining sustainable initiatives that DIA can take in support of the Green Sports Alliance. Contact Meredith Moore, mkm0078 at llinois.edu.
    • Help iSEE develop a Sustainability Literacy Assessment. Contact Meredith Moore, mkm007 at illinois.edu. 
    • Help identify and develop opportunities for intersecting sustainability and the arts (sustainability murals, utility box artwork, etc.). Contact Meredith Moore, mkm0078 at illinois.edu. 
    • Develop permanent posters for the Solar Farm 2.0, to guide tour participants at the site. Contact Morgan White at mbwhite at illinois.edu.
    • Help iSEE work with Student Sustainability Committee grant to expand small scale campus composting. Contact Meredith Moore at mkm0078 at illinois.edu.
    • If you have a project idea, please contact us at sustainability@illinois.edu, or submit it through the iCAP Portal Suggestions page.
  5. ECE energy dashboard refinement in discussion

    Joyce Mast is working with Patricia Franke to refine the ECE energy displays to include the effect of local weather on the solar panels. F&S Utilities and Energy Services is connecting Joyce with the contact people at Hawkeye Energy Solutions, who incorporated real-time energy data in the ECE energy dashboard, using campus data provided by F&S.

  6. Proposed presentation for AASHE

    Sol Systems is looking to present at the AASHE’s Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (GCSHE) sometime from October 12-14 through their request for abstracts on Emerging Issues in the field.

    Sol Systems is looking to present on our work expanding the impact of renewable energy projects that would certainly focus on things we did for the U of I project, namely the inclusion of pollinator habitats, zero waste construction and the work with students for their Sustainability Minor Capstone projects.

  7. Article: Can Solar Farms Help Save Bees?

    Discover Magazine released an article highlighting the biodiversity benefits that can stem from pairing solar farms with pollinator-friendly plants. Supporting its claims with initiatives from universities across the country, the article recognizes the University of Illinois' pollinator habitat at Solar Farm 2.0.

    Read the article on Discover Magazine. Or, refer to the PDF of the article in the attached files.

     

  8. Article: Pollinator Conservation on Solar Farms

    Entomology Today released an article highlighting the strategy and benefits behind pairing solar energy with pollinator habitats. Supporting its claims with UIUC and Iowa State initiatives, the article discusses content such as the scorecard approach, efficiency of the positioning of planted vegetation, and restrictions from geographic locations.

    Read the article on Entomology Today. Or, refer to the PDF of the article in the attached files.

  9. iSEE Newsletter: Plantings Complete Solar Farm 2.0!

    The final stage of the Solar Farm 2.0 project is wrapping up this month with the planting of a native pollinator habitat. The farm will serve as a major demonstration and research site for pollinator-friendly solar arrays, with more than 6.5 million flowering plants and native grasses around the 54 acres of panels creating a natural habitat for birds and beneficial insects. With this second solar farm, the campus has achieved clean energy goals outlined in the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) nearly four years ahead of schedule. Clean energy production will now support roughly 12 percent of annual campus electricity demand. Congratulations to Facilities & Services for all of the hard work on this important project; iSEE and its SWATeam members were proud to provide key support for Solar Farm 2.0 by pushing for an increased renewable portfolio in the iCAP. Students in iSEE's sustainability minor also helped assess the new array's carbon footprint!

  10. Article: An Earth Month to Remember

    The Spring 2021 iSEE Quarterly Update (iQ) highlighted a diverse array of campus initiatives that made this year's Earth Month one to remember. Ranging from hosted events to sustainable energy, the article discusses the launch of the "TED Talk: Eco Edition" series, Solar Farm 2.0, community trash pickup, and more!

    Read the article in the attached files below. 

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