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All Project Updates


  1. Final Report submitted to SSC - Speech and Hearing Solar


    This project was originally proposed by Mechanical Engineering students for Abbott Power Plant in spring 2016.  At that time, the SSC members did not want to support solar on the co-generation power plant because it uses fossil fuels.  They asked if we could use it on a different campus roof, and we considered all the large or medium campus roofs.


    The SSC asked us to identify a building that could have solar added, so I reached out to Applied Health Sciences in 2016 for approval to use the Speech and Hearing Sciences Building.  Since that time, Kristine Chalifoux confirmed that the roof is strong enough for solar panels, due to a previous change in the insulation materials.  Brian Finet completed design drawings for installing solar on the full available roof, and the Architecture Review Committee confirmed the building is allowed to have solar added.  


    After the engineering design work, the remaining funds were about $35K.  This fall, we received a construction estimate from Jeff Holt for upgrading the electrical system to handle a 70 kW solar PV array.  It would cost about $42K if done in conjunction with your capital project, just to get the wiring up to the roof and ready to punch through and install panels later.  Rather than ask the SSC for additional funding and an extension, I am returning the remaining dollars and putting this project on indefinite hold. 


    The overall campus goals for on-campus solar generation are listed in the 2015 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), which will be updated for 2020.  The current objective is to generate 25,000 MWh/year of on-campus solar, and we are currently at about 7,000 MWh/year.  Per the direction received from Chancellor Jones, we are working on a second large-scale solar farm to meet the goal, rather than several smaller-scale projects. 


    The second solar farm is planned to be about 12,000 kW in name-plate capacity, significantly more than the 70 kW rooftop array for Speech and Hearing.  Rooftop solar is still an option, and several departments continue to install them at the building scale. The design drawings are posted online through the iCAP Portal, at, for future use.


  2. Final Report submitted to SSC - Illini Bikes


    The goal of this project was to support installation of high density bike parking in an area of campus with high needs for additional bike racks, and provide an amenity for campus cyclists with a unique shelter structure protecting parked bikes from the winter elements at the Main Library.  This funding purchased the bike shelter and high-density racks.  The shelter will be installed at the Main Library, after completion of the MCORE construction work on Wright Street and Armory Avenue.


  3. 18F Semesterly Report - CornCrete

    The most significant development to date is that two buildings have been identified in which the material the team is work with will be installed, one is a single-story building of approximately 400 sq/ft the other has a double height space and a footprint off approximately 1,600 sq/ft that will be enclosed using the material in development.

  4. Weekly Updates for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Pete and Shawn,

    Zero waste activity for the past week is as follows:

    • I am arranging a conference call with Morgan and the Kimberly-Clark representative to discuss the glove recycling program. I am seeing if Shantanu Pai can join us.
    • I have an email out to Morgan to approve proposed changes to the iCAP portal glove recycling page to reflect the program changes that took effect Dec. 31.

    Best regards,

    Marya Ryan

  5. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week picked up a little. Sold a refurb bike—first of the year! Sold a B-a-B as well.

    I interviewed two potential staffers last week as well. They’ve both been volunteering for 10+ hours at the Bike Center and pretty excited about what we do and working here.

    I also got some feedback from former student staff about the manual I’ve been working on, as well as feedback from TBP. It’s pretty close to ready for distribution.

    I’ve got a backlog of safety checks to perform this week on bikes that the student staff have been churning out so far this semester. Unfortunately the weather isn’t helping.


    Visitors: 41
    Sales: $397.50

    Memberships: 1 for $30

    Refurb Bikes: 1 for $190
    B-a-Bs: 1 for $69



    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  6. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All ,This past week was a very slow one. Averaged only a visitor or two per day. New hires Kelly and Jacob started and I spent the majority of the week training them. They both show good promise in their ability to understand and apply the techniques and principles of bicycle repair.

    We received a new coat rack/storage shelf for people to hang their coats and drop their backpacks. Also received a snow shovel and salt to clear out in front of the door. Not having to bug the shop next door to borrow their shovel will be a welcomed change.  

    This week I have two interviews for a couple more student staffers. While I have roughly the same number of staffers as usual and could get by with that, the students’ availability this semester isn’t cutting it, especially once we get busy in the warm months. I am also trying to plan better for the constant and inevitable staff turnover.

    Regular shop duties abound: builds, safety checks, organizing, inventory.


    The numbers:
    Visitors: 41

    Sales: $87
    Memberships: 2 for $60



    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  7. 18F Semesterly Report - Baler Conceptualization


    On March 1, 2018, Morgan White, Pete Varney, and Shawn Patterson met with capital planner Trent Beane, a representative of the engineering firm, and a manufacturer’s rep from Dehart Recycling.  We discussed the project needs, and the current status of the WTS equipment.  Some notable points are listed below:

    • The existing baler was installed in 1996
    • Design of balers has changes a lot, with lower labor costs and alternatives to the perforator currently used at WTS.
    • The power supply is probably similar to the existing power demand.

    After the meeting, the engineering firm was asked to provide a formal proposal to F&S to approve and begin the design work.  Unfortunately, this process was delayed due to emergency family medical issues for Mr. Beane. 


    In August 2018, a new planner was assigned, Chris Anzelmo. Anzelmo finalized the agreement with the engineering firm and arranged a kick-off meeting.  In November 2018, the engineer visited the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to examine the Styrofoam densifier and gathered additional information from the WTS.


    Then on December 13, 2018, preliminary drawings were shared with F&S. At that meeting, discussions included the needs for modifying the “pit” at the base of the baler entry system, adjusting the pathway width between the baler and the north wall, and recognition that locating the Styrofoam densifier at the WTS would require a building addition. Information about the HVAC system and required code updates were also reviewed.


    On January 2, 2019, a baler vendor representative met with us at the WTS. They are going to look at an alternative baler that could provide the needed walkway space on the north end and use the existing pit.



  8. PWR013 Zero Waste Coordinator recommendation - Successful

    Dr. Mohamed Attalla, Executive Director of Facilities & Services, responded via email to iSEE Associate Director of Sustainability Ximing Cai affirming the intent of F&S to hire a full-time Zero Waste Coordinator:

    "We have reviewed the PWR013 Zero Waste Coordinator SWATeam Recommendation and iCAP Working Group Assessment, and we will proceed with hiring a full-time Zero Waste Coordinator. 

    The key responsibilities for this position will be to “educate the campus on recycling, and to push for systemic changes to improve campus recycling” as suggested by the iWG. This position will report to Pete Varney and work closely with Morgan White.  Additionally, once the position is filled, that person will serve as the F&S staff person on the Purchasing, Waste, and Recycling SWATeam."

    For future updates on this project, please visit Zero Waste.

    See iWG Assessment of PWR013 Zero Waste Coordinator here.

    See SWATeam Recommendation PWR013 Zero Waste Coordinator here.


  9. Final Report submitted to SSC - EcoConcept

    The target dates listed in the original application have become irrelevant as two years have passed since the application date. However, this year the team built a new carbon fiber chassis and body for the first time in multiple years which was one of the major goals listed in the original application. The car was named EV-1. Because many of the project leads graduated, the team went through drastic leadership changes and lost most of its knowledge about carbon fiber work. Tremendous efforts were made by the remaining members, which ultimately led to our team relearning how to work with carbon fiber. This allowed us to create our first new and completely customized carbon fiber chassis. This year’s chassis design allowed for a decrease in weight and higher structural strength compared to prior designs. The team also switched fuel categories to keep up with the growing focus on battery powered vehicles. Doing so entailed manufacturing a battery powerful enough to power the concept car as well as designing a safe battery management system. The battery successfully passed the official Shell Eco-Marathon safety inspection. Switching to the battery electric fuel category reduced the overall weight of the vehicle as there is no longer a bulky hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen cylinder in the car. The team participated in the Shell Eco-Marathon 2018 competition on the Sonoma Raceway. EV-1 passed the technical and safety inspections which are a set of rigorous tests performed to ensure the safety of the driver and other participants. Many teams do not make it past these inspections. While last minute technical difficulties disabled the team from qualifying to compete, EV-1 was featured in the front row of Shell’s family portrait.

  10. 18F Semesterly Report - LED Classroom Updates

    Most of the incandescent lamps in the General Assignment classrooms have been replaced with LED lamps at this point.  Several classrooms have also had new dimmers installed to properly control the lights.  Four more buildings have been started and need to be completed.

  11. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was slow but we had a few visitors in each day. Hank and Chris helped out all week, which was good. We got a few more shop builds finished but not safety checked. The total build number is creeping towards 30.

    Having the backside of the shop cleaner has been great this past week. Much easier to maneuver back there.

    This week I’ll be finalizing the student staff schedule and safety checking the aforementioned bikes. Kelly, a new hire, starts work today, so I’ll be training her some more as well.


    Visitors: 31
    Sales: $105.50

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  12. Weekly Updates for Zero Waste

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello Pete and Shawn—

    Zero waste activity this past week consisted of

    • Receiving information from the BER students that they had gathered for the glove recycling program. Even though labs will not be participating going forward, they finished up with identifying teaching contacts for us, so I thanked them for our work and have filed their spreadsheet in case we can use it in the future.
    • Meghna Vijayan has been our contact with BER. Her term as president of the group has come to an end, and she provided contact information for their new president, Katie Goebel.
    • I emailed Morgan to confirm whether to revise the glove recycling information on the iCAP portal page to reflect the fact that labs are no longer participating.
    • I followed up with Urbana Purchasing for Kimberly-Clark pricing information requested from sustainability staff at Arizona State University, where they are revamping their glove recycling program. I suspect the information may be confidential, but I wanted to follow up with as much as we’re at liberty to share.
    • Best regards,

    Marya Ryan