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Projects Updates for Issue Press Releases and Sustainability Reports

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  1. 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.

  2. News-Gazette article about CIF geothermal

    The News-Gazette printed this story about the geothermal at the Campus Instructional Facility: https://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/university-illinois/renewable-en...

     

    "URBANA — The University of Illinois’ glossy new building at Springfield Avenue and Wright Street represents the next step in its sustainability goals.

    The four-story, 122,000- square-foot, $75 million Campus Instructional Facility is also the biggest geothermal installation on the UI campus.

    Its geothermal system can pump 135 tons of hot or cool air into the building. That’s twice as much as the next biggest geothermal system on campus, and about 30 times the amount pumped into an average home.

    “The whole world knows about solar and wind power and things like that — hydroelectric power, too — but that’s only the electric side of energy. Energy also includes heating and cooling,” said Morgan White, director of sustainability at UI Facilities & Services. “It’s truly transformative, because it’s moving into the phase of getting us clean thermal energy and not just clean electricity.”

    Electricity provides heating and cooling as well, she said, but it’s primarily provided by natural gas, propane and other nonrenewable sources of energy.

    The key to the geothermal endeavor? Forty boreholes dug into the Bardeen Quad next to Grainger Library. They’re 20 feet apart, 6 inches wide and drilled 450 feet deep.

    Initially, the project required 60 boreholes, but UI researchers reduced that figure — and made the system financially feasible — by checking the thermal conductivity of different rock and soil layers, or the rate that heat passes through them, while considering the depth and flow rate of groundwater.

    To keep the building temperate year-round, a mixture of water and glycol circulates from a heat pump in the mechanical room into a pipe that runs up and down the underground field of boreholes.

    In winter, the pump pulls heat from the ground into the building. In summer, heat is pumped from the building back into the ground.

    “It’s like when you have a bathtub that’s a little too hot or a little too cold, and you pour some water in and stir it up,” White said.

    In all, the system reduces the building’s energy consumption by 65 percent compared to a typical heating/cooling installation, saving about $45,000 per year.

    Student initiatives helped fund the state-of-the-art thermal system. The 18-member Student Sustainability Committee, funded by the annual “Green Fee” assessed on students, allocated $375,000 — or about 13 percent of the system’s cost — to the facility’s geothermal installation.

    The building has a number of other unique features. It contains two dozen new classrooms — one of the highest figures on campus — replete with active-learning and distance-learning spaces. In the fall, engineering courses will occupy most of the space, along with math, statistics and other technical classes.

    The facility is also the first UI building funded through a public-private partnership, which allows for tax-exempt financing.

    Meanwhile, faculty and graduate students will use temperature information from a 385-foot-deep monitoring well, funded by Facilities & Services and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment, for continued research opportunities. 

    As part of the Illinois Climate Action Plan, the university plans to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    Currently, around 12 percent of electricity is provided by renewable sources, like the solar and wind farms near campus, White said. But only 4.5 percent of the UI’s total energy use, counting thermal, comes from renewable sources.

    “Clean electricity is important, but it’s not enough,” White said.

    In the planning stages, the UI wasn’t supposed to start implementing geothermal systems until 2035, but a suggestion by Yu-Feng Forrest Lin of the Prairie Research Institute jump-started that process."

  3. SSC Semesterly Report June 2021: Meadow at Orchard Downs Low Mow Zone

    As a part of the terms of the funding agreement for Meadow at Orchard Downs Low Mow Zones, the Student Sustainability Committee released a semesterly report with key information about the project on June 14, 2021. The report can be viewed below.

  4. Final Stage of Ultra-Sustainable Solar Farm 2.0 Project

    Today, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Facilities & Services (F&S) announces the final stage of completion for Solar Farm 2.0, totaling 12.3 megawatts (DC), with the planting phase of the farm’s pollinator habitat commencing this month. The project is the second solar farm constructed at the U of I and achieves clean energy sustainability goals outlined in the university’s Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), nearly four years ahead of schedule. Clean energy production will now support approximately 12 percent of the school’s annual electricity demand. The planting of the project’s native pollinator habitat bookmarks the solar farm’s unique array of state-of-the-art technological and sustainable features.

    The site’s 54 acres will serve as a major demonstration and research location for pollinator-friendly solar arrays. The University of Illinois Solar Farm 2.0 project exceeded the required 85 minimum points established by the State of Illinois’ Pollinator Friendly Solar Site Act. With 134 points achieved on the pollinator scorecard, including the adjacent landscape buffer, the solar array officially “Provides Exceptional Habitat.” The custom seed mix designed by Natural Resource Services, with more than 21 different plant types that are native to the area, will make the land between and around the panels more resilient and create a natural habitat for a variety of local and migratory birds and beneficial insects. In total, the site will contain more than 6.5 million flowering plants and native grasses.

    Solar Farm 2.0 was developed by national solar energy firm Sol Systems, which built the farm with innovative features such as bifacial solar panels, single-axis trackers, pollinator habitat, and zero waste construction practices. This project is among the most technologically advanced and sustainable solar projects in the U.S. Through the firm’s development wing, Sol Customer Solutions, a joint venture between Sol Systems and Capital Dynamics, Capital Dynamics will serve as owners of the project with Sol Systems managing the asset throughout the 20-year term of the agreement.

    F&S Executive Director Dr. Mohamed Attalla said, “In only four months, Solar Farm 2.0 has already become an integral part of the university’s energy enterprise. There are days when the array is meeting almost 30 percent of the university’s electrical demand for that day. It has been extraordinary to watch this site’s renewable energy make an immediate impact to support learning and discovery across campus.”

    Since the array was energized on January 29, 2021, the installation has produced over 4,000 megawatt hours (MWh). On May 1, Solar Farm 2.0 provided its largest output of 102 MWh in a single day, enough to offset the consumption of more than 8,000 gallons of gasoline. This installation puts the university at the top of the list for onsite clean energy production, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In combination with other solar installations on campus, the Urbana campus is now generating approximately 27,000 MWh/year, ranking UIUC third amongst U.S. universities in onsite clean power production.

    The University will purchase all energy produced by the array under a power purchase agreement (PPA) at a fixed price over a 20-year term. In addition to the long-term fixed rate, which hedges UIUC against future utility price uncertainty, the PPA allows the university to go solar with no upfront costs, providing an expected $300,000 in savings in the first year alone.

    “The use of innovative technology and land-use practices and strong, ongoing partnership between Sol Systems and the University of Illinois is what makes this project so remarkable,” said William Graves, Director of Originations at Sol Systems. “Solar Farm 2.0 is a marquee project not only for the university but also for the state of Illinois.” 

    Sol Systems partnered with South Bend, Indiana-based Inovateus Solar, which constructed the solar arrays. Inovateus used reduced-waste construction practices that prevented as much as 45 tons of materials from reaching landfills. Specifically, Inovateus worked with F&S Waste Management to recycle nearly 94 percent of the project’s construction packaging, plastics, wood pallets, and other refuse.

    “Inovateus Solar is truly excited to have partnered with Sol Systems and contributed our best practices for sustainable solar construction. We believe this solar farm will be the new role model for ultra-sustainable solar development,” said T.J. Kanczuzewski, CEO of Inovateus Solar. “We're also proud to have assisted U of I in meeting an important sustainability goal for the campus. Helping to preserve the environment for current and future students and faculty directly reflects our company mission of ‘building a brilliant tomorrow.’’’    

    Academic collaboration is a major theme emphasized in the F&S Strategic Plan because using the campus as a living learning laboratory for students and researchers is essential to the success of the university. Sol Systems and Inovateus worked with students in the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment’s campuswide sustainability minor to assess the carbon footprint of Solar Farm 2.0 from sourcing to installation. Sol Systems will use the reports, produced by the student groups as part of their Sustainability, Energy and Environment Fellows Program capstone, to assess potential sustainability improvements to all future projects.

    The University hopes to offer onsite tours this fall, along with a celebratory ribbon-cutting for the project.

    ###

    University of Illinois Contact:

    Steve Breitwieser

    Customer Relations & Communications

    Facilities & Services

    sbreit@illinois.edu

    217-300-2155

     

    Sol Systems Contact:

    Will Patterson

    Manager, Marketing and Communications

    Sol Systems

    William.patterson@solsystems.com

    240-778-3530

     

    ABOUT FACILITIES & SERVICES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

    Facilities & Services (F&S), at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, provides all physical plant, operational, and essential services for sustaining an environment that fosters research, teaching, and public engagement activities. F&S supports the university’s education, research, and outreach missions by improving the physical condition of the facilities and grounds through construction and building maintenance activities, providing utilities production and distribution, implementing energy conservation initiatives, and increasing customer satisfaction by delivering quality services in a responsive, reliable, and customer-focused manner. Visit www.fs.illinois.edu to learn more.

    ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

    Sol Systems is a leading national solar energy firm with an established reputation for integrity and reliability across its development, infrastructure and environmental commodity businesses. To date, Sol has developed and/or financed over 1 GW of solar projects valued at more than $1 billion for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, counties, utilities, universities and schools. The company also actively shapes and trades in environmental commodity and electricity markets throughout the United States. The company was founded in 2008, is based in Washington, D.C., and is led by its founder. Sol Systems works with its team, partners, and clients to create a more sustainable future we can all believe in. For more information, visit https://www.solsystems.com/.

    ABOUT CAPITAL DYNAMICS

    Capital Dynamics is an independent global asset management firm focusing on private assets including private equity, private credit and clean energy infrastructure.

    Capital Dynamics’ Clean Energy Infrastructure is one of the largest renewable energy investment managers in the world with USD 6.6 billion AUM and has one of the longest track records in the industry. The CEI strategy was established to capture attractive investment opportunities in the largest and fastest growing sector of global infrastructure – proven renewable energy technologies, primarily in North America and Europe, across solar, onshore wind, energy storage and related infrastructure with a focus on both utility-scale and distributed generation technologies. The CEI platform’s fully-integrated asset management affiliate provides highly-specialized services to ensure optimal performance and value from projects. The CEI strategy currently manages 7.9 GWdc of contracted gross power generation across more than 150 projects in the United States and Europe, and is one of the top 3 global solar PV owners.

    As a sustainable asset manager, we have gone beyond standard ESG requirements by designing, implementing and trademarking the Capital Dynamics R-Eye™ Rating System – a unique, best-in-class approach to diligence and rating of each investment based on PRI principles and UN Sustainable Development Goals. Since Capital Dynamics’ Clean Energy Infrastructure platform’s inception in 2010, over 19 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided as a result of the firm’s renewable investments. This is equivalent to the power needed to supply more than 3 million homes or passenger vehicles for one year.

    In 2020, the CEI strategy received top rankings from GRESB (the ESG benchmark for real assets) for commitment to sustainability, and in 2019 awarded Global PE Energy Firm of the Year by Private Equity International. For more information, please visit: www.capdyn.com.

    ABOUT INOVATEUS SOLAR

    Inovateus Solar is a leading solar and energy storage development, EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction), and supply company in the Midwest United States. Headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, the company has built over 500 MW of utility, commercial, industrial, and education sector solar projects. With deep roots in the communities that it serves, Inovateus has been a strong employer and invested millions of dollars in the Indiana economy in support of its commitment to invest in the energy future of its clients.

     

    Attached Files: 
  5. Red Oak Rain Garden Nears Completion with Award of Grants

    Please see the attached file for a recent press release regarding the Red Oak Rain Garden and their awarded grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

  6. Solar Farm 2.0 to Nearly Triple on Campus Renewable Energy Production

    Construction of a new 54-acre, 12.1 megawatt (MWdc) Solar Farm is approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees as the sole member of Prairieland Energy, Inc. Referred to as “Solar Farm 2.0,” the new utility-scale array to be located north of Curtis Road, between First Street and U.S. Route 45, will produce approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually, almost tripling the university’s existing on-site renewable energy generation. Solar Farm 2.0 will generate the equivalent electricity use of more than 2,000 average American homes.

    Sol Systems, LLC, will design, build, operate, and maintain Solar Farm 2.0, for the duration of a 20-year contract which includes power purchase and land lease agreements, and an option to buy the system at the end of the term.

    https://emails.illinois.edu/newsletter/234685.html

  7. Freezer Challenge was in the Chancellor's message

     
    Click here to see this online
     
     
     

    A monthly e-newsletter where Chancellor Robert Jones shares campus news, stories, successes and information


    Welcome Back


     
     

    I hope you'll take a moment to watch this short video welcoming students to campus. I am grateful to each one of you for making this a special place to live, learn and work. No matter how long you’ve been part of the Illinois community, there is always something new to discover. I look forward to seeing what we will accomplish together. 

    Sincerely,
    Robert J. Jones
    Chancellor

     


    Celebrate Homecoming


    It's time to come home, Illini.

    Illinois Homecoming will take place Oct. 13-19. From pancakes at the Homecoming 5K to family fun in Grange Grove, don’t miss out on all our community has to offer. 

    For the full list of events, view the homecoming website and the Facebook event.

     


    Congratulate Students


     
     

    Illinois students are outstanding. For the spring 2019 semester, the university announced:

    - 7,240 Dean’s List students
    - 243 Bronze Tablet honorees
    - 9,068 May graduates

    For the complete list of names, view this list.

     


    Rediscover TailGREAT


    The 1980s tailgating competition is returning to Illinois after a 30-year hiatus. 

    TailGREAT will take place on Saturday, Sept. 21 when the Illini take on Nebraska at Memorial Stadium. The competition will award the Best BBQ and Most Creative Tailgate.

     


    Celebrate Our Community


     
     

    Illinois was ranked #20 on the list of Best Colleges for your Money by Money magazine.

    Champaign-Urbana was named one of the Top 40 places young people are moving to by USA Today.

    Illinois received first place in the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge’s Academic category for the second year in a row.

     


    Learn About University News


    Application opens - The Illinois application for freshmen and transfer students opens Sept. 1.

    Scholar endowment - A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign endowment to honor scholar Yingying Zhang has been established by the Zhang family. Yingying's Fund will assist international students in crisis and their families.

    Student Success - A new Student Success Initiative aims to better understand the factors that lead to retention, graduation rates, placement, degree-completion time and more.

     


    Discover Illinois Research


     
     

    Better sleep - Optimistic people tend to sleep better and longer, according to a new Illinois study.

    Cheaper flight costs - Illinois researchers are using artificial intelligence to design a customized pricing model that benefits airline customers.

    Healthier diets in children - An Illinois study provides more evidence that kids who cook have healthier dietary habits.

    Safer K-9s - A new Illinois effort will ensure law enforcement K-9s get the specialized care they need when injured on the job.


    Unsubscribe from Illinois Noteworthy

     
     
     
     
     
     
  8. ILLINOIS WINS FREEZER CHALLENGE FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR

    For the second straight year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the best at implementing cold-storage best management practices, including reducing the energy required for laboratory cold storage. Campus efforts in more than 70 laboratories across 15 buildings earned back-to-back first place awards in the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge’s Academic category.

    The total energy usage in these spaces decreased by an estimated 438 kWh/day or a combined annual total equivalent of 13.5 homes energy for 1 year. The reductions were achieved due to the dedication and creativity of researchers across campus in implementing best practices for cold storage management. They received points for taking actions such as properly maintaining freezers and refrigerators, discarding old samples, and retiring unneeded units.

    See attached file or visit: https://www.fs.illinois.edu/resources/announcements/2019/08/08/the-university-of-illinois-wins-the-international-freezer-challenge-for-the-second-straight-year for full press release.

    More information on the challenge is available at https://www.freezerchallenge.org/ and https://go.fs.illinois.edu/freezerchallenge. The program is jointly run by My Green Lab and I2SL.

  9. Washington Post article: The next money crop for farmers: Solar panels

    The Washington Post published an article on February 22, 2019, about how farmers are making the transition to solar based on current corn and soybean price drops, and the implications of that. Evan DeLucia is quoted in this article.

    See attached or follow the link to read the article.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-next-money-crop-for-...

  10. Article: Cyclists have same rights as cars

    Parkland students may want to consider biking, as it affords them an opportunity to exercise and is an ecofriendly way of getting around. There are dangers associated with cycling though, and there are laws that must be followed to ensure your safety while cycling.

    Link to the article: http://www.prospectusnews.com/2017/09/06/cyclists-have-same-rights-as-cars/

  11. Article about Billion Dollar Green Challenge

    The Chicago Tribune included a mention of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as one of two schools in Illinois that have joined the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/ct-nvs-north-centra...

  12. Chancellor Signs Resilience Commitment

    http://sustainability.illinois.edu/ui-remains-green-campus-leader-as-cha...

    Illinois a Green Campus Leader as Chancellor Signs Climate Resilience Commitment

    MARCH 3, 2016 — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took on a leadership role to more actively respond to global climate change when Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson signed Second Nature’s Climate Resilience Commitment in February.

    Illinois is a Charter Signatory of the Second Nature Climate Commitment, which combines a Carbon Commitment the campus signed in 2008 with the newly signed Resilience Commitment. The full Climate Commitment formally acknowledges that the effects of climate change are already felt — and that universities and colleges must pursue both mitigation and adaptation to combat the unfolding crisis.

    By adding the Resilience Commitment, Illinois has made a pledge to evaluate campus vulnerabilities to a changing climate in its landscapes, natural resources, and energy production — and to make an action plan that addresses those weaknesses.

    In 2015, Illinois released an updated Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) reporting its progress toward emissions reduction and other campus sustainability goals and outlining a new path to reaching net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, but no later than 2050.

    “While the iCAP is a plan for how campus impacts the atmosphere and climate, the resilience plan will be about how the campus reacts to atmosphere and climate change,” said Evan DeLucia, Director of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE).

    Resilience is a measure of the ability to react to and recover from difficult circumstances. Resilient communities bend but do not break under pressure, he said.

    Wilson, who signed the document Feb. 9, said: “Signing the Resiliency Commitment is a natural extension of our efforts to carefully steward university resources. By planning ahead, we can prepare for a range of potential challenges presented by climate change — whether social, financial, or ecological.

    “We’re positioning ourselves to be the kind of nimble and responsive university that can deliver on our educational and research missions for generations to come.”

    DeLucia said that carrying out the terms of the commitment will create a more holistic picture of sustainability on campus.

    “I think this commitment will make us think about sustainability in a broader way,” he said. “Rather than only asking, ‘How much renewable energy do we use?’ we’ll also be asking ‘Do we have a diverse enough pool of energy resources so that if one fails, the entire system doesn’t fail?’ It will be less about being ‘green’ and more about being truly sustainable.”

    A PDF of the Resilience Commitment — complete with Wilson’s signature — can be viewed on iSEE’s website.
    Second Nature is a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience mobilizing institutions of higher education to lead the way to a more just, healthy, and sustainable society. It sponsors the Climate, Resilience, and Carbon commitments and oversees reporting of the signatory institutions’ progress toward their goals.

     

  13. Chancellor Blog: Sustainability at Illinois

    Dear Colleagues,

    In the midst of a cold winter, it may seem ironic to discuss our sustainability efforts on campus. But it seemed like the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to see where we have gone and where we are going. In the quest to become a pre-eminent research university with a land-grant mission and global impact, integrating sustainable practices in our research, classes, and buildings - every facet of campus – is a necessity and has been identified as a priority by our students and faculty.

    We were excited to take another major step in that effort with formal establishment of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment – iSEE - and the appointment of a permanent director, plant biology professor, Evan DeLucia. This is one of the first recommendations that came out of last year’s Visioning Future Excellence conversations and was also identified as a goal in the campus strategic plan. The institute will serve as a research and educational hub for environmental and sustainability initiatives for the entire campus community.

    As a campus, we have long been active in new initiatives to promote sustainable practice, both in our own activities and in research that translates to broader impact beyond our walls. From a campus-wide effort that has cut our annual energy costs by millions of dollars and has rewarded buildings with high energy reductions through the Energy Conservation Incentive Program, to the RecycleMania Game Day event February 26 and efforts in University Housing that have reduced daily food waste by hundreds of tons – thinking about ways to preserve our world and to steward our resources is a part of our community identity.

    And the world is noticing. This year we garnered several national recognitions including a rating of Gold from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Reporting System. Gold is the highest distinction a university has been given. For the first time, we were also named to the Princeton Review Green Honor Roll, one of only 22 schools to make the list this year. We were ranked #1 in the Big Ten and 28th overall for Sierra Club Cool Schools. PETA2 named us one of the most “vegan-friendly” schools in the U.S. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Lincoln Hall project LEED Platinum certification, its highest ranking. And we also received a Governor’s Sustainability Award.

    We have a long history of innovation and leadership in environmental science and sustainability. But it is exciting to see how that hallmark is being incorporated into our strategic future excellence.

    --The above paragraphs were quoted from the Chancellor's Blog.

    Attached Files: 
  14. Housing Sustainability Report 2011

    University Housing’s 2010 Strategic Plan identified stewardship of resources as critical to our long-term success. According to the plan, stewardship of resources means “University Housing will demonstrate intentional and transparent stewardship of the financial, physical, and human resources of our entire organization. We will seek to use and conserve our resources in an effective manner that meets the needs of our residents and customers seeking and expecting excellent value.”

    While University Housing had already initiated a number of sustainability efforts, the University developed the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) in May 2010, identifying new sustainability mandates with which Housing will need to comply. Additionally, the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) was asking for support on multiple initiatives.

    As a result, University Housing identified the need to pool our sustainability resources through a single point of contact and formed the Housing Sustainability Council.

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