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All Project Updates



  1. David and Sarthak's meeting notes from November 20

    David and I met on November 20, 2019 for our first meeting following his Biogas on Campus email on November 13th. David received an email from Doug Wolters from the College of ACES, and Doug said that he will discuss this project with his Dean. David had not heard from anyone else.

    We discussed how to proceed with this project. I will try to get in touch with Lance Schideman to get his opinion on this subject. I introduced David to the SWATeam Clerk of the Transportation and Zero Waste SWATeam, Julija Sakutyte. I will talk to the Transportation SWATeam about a possible collaboration opportunity with the Energy SWATeam and Zero Waste SWATeam. David will also talk to the Energy SWATeam about this possible collaboration.

    I have set up a biweekly meeting with David, and a monthly meeting with Meredith Moore for this project.

  2. Weekly Update - Daily Illini news article, Working Bikes, WCIA,

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was a big press week. We landed on the cover of the Daily Illini on Thursday and then when we did our shipping event on Friday with Working Bikes WCIA showed up!

    Good press all around!

    The shipping event went just about as well as it’s ever gone in my tenure. To start we had 200 fewer bikes to deal with, then Working Bikes provided twice as many staff as they have before, and to cap it off we had good turnout between my staff and volunteers. Unfortunately, volunteer and staff availability isn’t something I can count on every year.  

    For this week, today and tomorrow we’ll have LAS students in to volunteer. Other than that, it’s business as usual. We’re getting into finer and finer details of culling and organizing, getting into some deep cleaning, which I regret isn’t my strong suit but man does it make a difference. Next week we’ll be closed for Thanksgiving break.
    Also, a big thanks to Todd for grabbing scrap over the weekend.

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 40
    Sales: $527
    Bike (refurb): 1 or $150
    Bike (B-a-B): 1 for $80
    Memberships: 2 for $60
    Tires/tubes: 10 for $53

    Jacob Benjamin
    Manager, Campus Bike Center

  3. Weekly Updates for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello Pete and Shawn--

    This past week, Julija Sakutyte put me in touch with Tim Stark to discuss input on the new iCAP. I had suggested that addressing the issue of transporting recyclable materials from the point where they are generated to centralized collection points would help boost departments' participation. I know we've touched on this issue in regards to EPS and glove recycling and had an inquiry about getting toner cartridges as well. I've reached out directly to Tim to talk about the best way to frame the suggestion for iCAP.

    I have also received the Zero Waste SWATeam objectives from Julija and will review them by the team's Dec. 2 deadline.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan


  4. Biochemistry Student working with F&S on an Anaerobic Digester study project

    Following is an email sent by David Rivera-Kohr regarding Biogas on-campus to several faculty and staff at the U of I.




    My name is David Rivera-Kohr and I’m a student member of the Energy SWATeam. I want to propose using biogas for energy on campus. Since burning biogas for energy is effectively carbon neutral, this would bring us closer to our iCAP goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 


    Biogas is a huge untapped resource for energy production at the U of I. Rather than utilize the methane from animal manure and carcasses and food waste, we allow much of it to escape into the atmosphere. The Sanitary District currently uses municipal waste, restaurant grease, industrial food processing waste and campus dining hall food waste as feedstocks for its own anaerobic digester to produce biogas which is burned to generate 25-30% of the facility's energy. However, the Sanitary District does not want to dedicate digestion capacity to manure due to the need to accommodate growth of the local area (i.e. anticipated growth of student population). Furthermore, the Sanitary District is not a UIUC facility, therefore its use of biogas does not alleviate campus energy demand or contribute to our net-zero emissions objective. 


    I have a few ideas for biogas production on campus I would like feedback on:

    1. Add a biogas siphoning system to the manure storage tanks at the Beef & Sheep Farm.

    2. Conduct a study to determine which UIUC facility produces the most methane from animal waste and construct an anaerobic digester there. The 2014 Anaerobic Digester Feasibility Study indicated the Swine Farms collectively had the highest methane output; Miles Redden told me the Beef & Sheep farm is the highest manure-producing farcilty, though ionophore feeding of beef cattle decreases methane output. It may be worthwhile to determine which single facility has the highest methane output in 2019-2020.


    Additionally, there are a few options in consideration for how to best use the biogas: 

    1. Burn it on-site in existing natural gas furnaces to meet facility heat demands. This could be used in conjunction with the deep direct-use (DDU) geothermal system that is being studied for the ACES Legacy corridor—the brine solution from the DDU system will bring the facility's hot water to ~110 degrees F and the biogas furnace could increase that temperature to 130 degrees. There would likely be a considerable excess of biogas, which could either be burned on-site to generate electricity for distribution to the local grid (which is less efficient than combined heat & power), transported to nearby facilities to burn in their furnaces, or...

    2. Upgrade the biogas (all or only the excess from idea #1) to pipeline-quality methane and inject it into the pipeline for use at Abbott Power Plant. There is a supply pipeline that runs through the ACES corridor where this methane could be injected. 

    3. Use upgraded biogas for compressed natural gas (CNG) to power F&S vehicle fleets.


    The 2014 Feasibility Study also discussed constructing a pressurized pipeline to deliver  waste from multiple facilities to the site of the anaerobic digester. This may be worthwhile if the biogas is to be used on a larger scale i.e. at Abbott Power Plant or some combination of the previous ideas.


    Life-cycle cost analysis of the above options should be studied to determine the most cost-effective and, more importantly, the lowest emissions option. If you can, please let me know which of these options for biogas production and use sound most feasible, or if better ideas come to mind.


    Finally, we need the support and expertise of faculty and staff to advance this proposal. If you are interested in backing or contributing to this proposal, or you know someone else who may be, please let me know. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you!




    David A. Rivera-Kohr

    Undergraduate Student 

    University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign

    College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


    Dr. Rutilio Fratti's Lab

  5. ACES Approval

    David Rivera-Kohr shared this great news today: 

    ACES has decided to support the biogas initiative! This is a huge step in the right direction. I’ve made decent progress on the presentation (though I need more information before it’s complete) and deciding which options to write the recommendation for is an important future step. An anaerobic digester is best in terms of energy production and waste disposal, but it ultimately comes down to what the University will fund. The Zero Waste SWATeam is very supportive of this idea and if I can collect evidence that a digester alleviates the burden on agricultural land and water consumption, the Land & Water team will also be on board. Thank you all for your help thus far, let’s make this happen! Communication with our Associated Dean for Research Germàn Bollero and the College of ACES is supportive of this proposal.  As it moves forward, we will need to work together to determine the level of involvement that ACES faculty/staff are willing and able to provide.

  6. Weekly Update - Bike Month discussion, Fix-a-Flat, Working Bikes

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was uneventful. Without traffic during hours we were afforded a lot of quality sorting/scrapping time.
    On Wednesday I met with F&S, Urbana/Champaign, and CCB to discuss Bike Month/BTWD planning and to reflect on this year’s Light The Night. We’ve set the date for Bike To Work Day as Friday, May 1st.
    Thursday was our Fix-a-Flat class that was a no-show unfortunately. However, it’s pretty much winter so attendance was expected to be low.
    Big news for this week is that we’ll be hosting Working Bikes again this year to help us alleviate our abandoned bikes problem. They’ll be down this Friday from about 11am – 2pm packing up bikes to take back with them to Chicago. TBP and I will be there on Wednesday to clear out the good ones. I’ve got a couple staffers who said they’re available to help but I’ll put the word out with TBP to see if we can stir up some more volunteers. The more the merrier!
    The numbers:
    Visitors: 67
    Sales: 171.50
    Bike (B-a-B): 2 for $65
    Memberships: 2 for $60
    Tire/tubes: 1 for $5



    Jacob Benjamin
    Manager, Campus Bike Center

  7. Weekly Updates for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Pete and Shawn--

    This past week, I read through the recommendations that the Zero Waste SWATeam submitted for the new version of iCAP.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan

  8. Hello 2019 Freezer Challenge participants!

    Associated Project(s): 

    The registration for the 2020 Freezer Challenge is now open!

    Sign-up this year to win for the third year in a row!

    Signing up is easy and only takes 2-3 minutes to enter the labs contacts and organization information.

    If you would like help signing up, send Your Name (first, last), email, PI’s name, Building and Department, with subject “Please Sign-Up” to:

    The challenge takes place throughout the spring semester and participation is self-explanatory, each lab gets points for actions taken to increase lab energy efficiency (see Score Sheet for categories). I will be in contact with all the labs that sign up to support your efforts throughout the semester. The labs with the most points in each laboratory category win the challenge.

    Our participation in the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge supports our Climate Leadership Commitments, campus sustainability, Green Labs, and the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP).

    If you are no longer the contact for your lab and you have a different contact that I can replace yours with, please let me know!

    Questions can be sent to:
    Madeline Barone, email:
    University of Illinois F&S | Freezer Challenge Site Coordinator
    Eco-Olympics | President

  9. New Guiding Principle includes Environmental Sustainability

    Associated Project(s): 

    Dear students, faculty, staff and friends:

    I am happy to share the news that we have released our second set of Guiding Principles, adding an important new layer to the foundation of core values that define us.

    The new Guiding Principles join three others adopted two years ago, building on the ideals that we hold most dear and expanding the touchstone that will guide our future. The three additions reflect our bedrock commitment to a culture of excellence rooted in integrity, to financial and environmental sustainability, and to fostering the healthy relationships that allow every member of our campus communities to flourish.

    Those relationships are at the center of everything we do, and the new principles ensure that we never lose sight of our responsibility to nurture a spirit of inclusion where people of all races, cultures, backgrounds and faiths are respected and embraced. Our universities share a fundamental commitment to personal dignity, tolerance and a learning environment free of bias, prejudice or discrimination.  Our campuses work hard to provide a climate of understanding and acceptance, allowing students to follow their dreams in an educational setting that is free of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct and without fear of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other expression of hatred or division.

    Like the inaugural set of Guiding Principles that laid out our position on free speech, globalization and immigration, and civic engagement, our latest principles were developed through a thoughtful, inclusive process. Hundreds of you helped shape them, including our Board of Trustees and faculty, staff, students and leadership from our universities and system offices.

    The full set of six Guiding Principles is posted on our website and I hope you will take time to review them and incorporate their vision into your studies, your jobs and your lives. My thanks to everyone who shared their talents to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to serve the needs of students and the public good.





  10. DFA - scheduling a project update meeting

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Morgan, 

    The past couple of weeks we've made progress interviewing and gathering insights for the Plastic Film Waste Project. We are now seeking advice and want to schedule a meeting to give you further updates. What dates and when would you be available to meet? Thank you so much for helping out on this project and we look forward to meeting up with you soon!


    Thank you,