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All Project Updates


  1. Solar Decathlon 2011 Funding Agreement

    This proposal seeks to provide funding for student education centered around the University of Illinois’s participation in the 2011 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competition. Each student team participating in this prestigious, international competition is required to build an entirely solar-powered 800 sq. foot house with innovative design features. This grant will provide funds for the development of new courses and enhancement of existing courses, provisioning of course materials and software, and the sponsorship of guest lecturers and consultants ($25,000), the employment of graduate students in coordinating roles for education and volunteer engagement activities ($15,000), and student travel associated with the competition ($10,000). The last UI entry in the Solar Decathlon competition engaged hundreds of students and was the highest-placed US finisher in the Competition; furthermore this participation will require the team to raise $700,000 at a time of severe campus budget constraints. Thus, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding this proposal in the amount of $50,000.

  2. Prairie Project Instructional Workshop Funding Agreement

    The Prairie Project is a faculty development workshop with the objective of preparing faculty (and aspiring faculty) to teach on issues of sustainability and to introduce such material into existing campus coursework. The project will reach an interdisciplinary group of 18 faculty members who teach courses reaching thousands of students, and helping achieve campus objectives around sustainability education. This workshop will also serve as a pilot project for larger workshop activities in future years. Committee funds will be used to provide a modest honorarium for participants, who undertake to make modifications to a course that they will teach next year. This workshop is being hosted by the campus Office of Sustainability, and funding support in equal amounts is also being provided by the Office of Sustainability and the Environmental Change Institute. Thus the Committee recommends funding this program in the amount of $5,000.

  3. Occupancy Sensors Funding Agreement

    This proposal looks to install occupancy sensors in classrooms, hallways, restrooms, lounges, and other public areas in twenty heavily used campus buildings, chosen according to the number of student contact hours. This project will reduce energy usage by 30% in affected areas, saving the campus approximately $18,000 per year in energy costs (based on a $0.0689/kWh rate), and reduce emissions by nearly 440,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent. This highly visible effort is expected to increase student and community awareness of the impact of reducing lighting usage. These sensors will serve as a lasting and permanent public statement of campus commitment to responsible sustainable behavior. Thus, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding the fully requested amount of $50,000.

  4. Course Development and Enhancement (ECI) Funding Agreement

    For FY2010, the Student Sustainability Committee chose to solicit proposals for the development or enhancement of courses related to sustainability jointly with the Environmental Change Institute. Such a program allows the Committee to select proposals to support, while leaving project management and administration to a better-suited entity. The program received ten proposals for consideration, out of which the following six proposals were chosen for funding: ENGR 298 – LINC Bike Sharing – Prof. Bruce Litchfield - $5,000 LA 390/590 – Landscapes, Sustainability, & Human Health – Prof. Bill Sullivan - $2,420 PHYCS 150 – How Nature Works – Prof. Scott Willenbrock - $4,790 GEOG 130 - Social Science Approaches to Environment-Society Relations – Prof. Tom Bassett - $5,000 ME 470 – Senior Design – Prof. Stephen Platt - $4,000 BADM 532 / 533 – Sustainable Product and Market Development for Sustainable Marketplaces – Prof Madhu Viswanathan - $5,000 The ECI is committing $13,420 in support of an additional course and matching SSC allocations to two of the above courses. All courses participating in this program will meet program requirements established by the ECI and SSC, submit materials to the ECI for archiving and participate in the ECI’s annual symposium. Thus the Committee recommends funding this program in the amount of $26,210.

  5. Campus Rec Water Conservation Funding Agreement

    Water conservation initiatives have generally taken a back seat to energy conservation at the University of Illinois. Campus Recreation has proposed a comprehensive upgrade of restroom facilities in all three of their buildings, with the potential of reducing water consumption by almost 6.5 million gallons annually. This work would be highly visible to students and in a fellow student-fee supported unit. Thus, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of proving upto $30,000 in incentives at the rate of $0.30 per $1.00 spent.

  6. Thin Clients for Green Computing Funding Agreement

    This proposal looks to improve the energy efficiency of campus computing by expanding the use of thin client hardware and infrastructure. The effort will build on previous successful thin computing studies, scaling up the initiative to make thin clients available to a wider campus audience. Thin clients use 95% less energy than traditional desktop computers, which can significantly reduce campus energy expense and carbon emissions. Further, thin clients have a 10 year life-span, compared to the 3-4 year useful life of a traditional desktop computer, resulting in better utilization and ultimately less e-waste. To encourage the expansion of this more sustainable model of computing, this project seeks to make thin clients available at reduced costs for campus units. $40,000 of the grant would fund thin client devices, licenses, and associated Terminal Server client access licenses (CALs) at a rate up of to $200 or 50% of costs, whichever is lower. At least 200 thin clients will be made available at discounted rates for campus units; additional funding will come directly from units’ allocated budgets for replacement computer hardware. Purchase commitments for atleast 100 devices have made made by the College of FAA, and additional commitments have been made by Swanlund System Services and Campus Recreation. The remaining $5,000 of the grant would compensate Webstore/CITES for server/virtual machine investments. As more and more locations will have thin clients visible, students, faculty, and visitors will realize the benefits of this sustainable computing solution. Thus, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding the fully requested amount of $45,000.

  7. Concern with stewardship efforts

    Pizzo & Associates donated labor and materials to the prairie area at the corner of Florida Avenue and Orchard Street. Jack Pizzo, President and Senior Ecologist of Pizzo and Associates, emailed the stakeholders of the plot on July 1, 2010 to formally express his concern with the upkeeping of the plot.

    His letter is below and attached is the Memorandum of Agreement for Gifts in Kind between Pizzo & Associates and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

    To: Sustainability Committee

    RE: President's Prairie Planting, Site visit on June 29th 2010

    Dear Fellow Stakeholders,

    I'm writing this letter to formally express my concern with the current status of the ongoing stewardship efforts at the above mentioned site.
    I was onsite yesterday and was completely surprised as to the unkempt condition of the planting. The excessive height is out competing the native species.

    My company donated material and labor with the good faith understanding that the prairie areas would be maintained at a level to ensure success. I am fully aware of the abundance of rain and the difficulties this reality presents, but to simply do nothing while the site becomes overgrown constitutes neglect of the most egregious nature.

    As a group we cannot afford failure of this magnitude and visibility.  I am writing to call your attention to the current site conditions and to highlight the necessity of prompt action.  As a professional in the business of ecological restoration and as a graduate of the University, I am confident the solution to our problem lies within the team we have assembled.  In the near term, the entire site needs to be mowed and treated selectively with herbicide.  In the long term, a more consistent stewardship plan needs to be developed and implemented to prevent the current situation from occurring in the future.

    I am fully aware that traditional management means may not work with the soils that are currently saturated soils but most of the site is dry enough to mow. From experience, I can recommend a number of alternative treatments including using: a walk behind mower, a sickle bar mower, brush cutting with Stihl FS-250 brush cutters or manual cutting with Christmas tree knives.  The cut material needs to be removed due to the excessive height since all of that debris will smother the seedlings. Either way, something needs to be done to bring the vegetation under control and prevent further seeding impedance. This needs to be done within the next week.

    I don't want to be party to a failure and I know none of you do either.
    A prompt, coordinated response would be most appreciated!

    Please keep me in the loop as to the efforts.

    Best regards,


  8. FY08 Lighting Retrofit grant from ICECF

    Associated Project(s): 

    In April 2008, ICECF granted the University funding in the amount of $1,182,270.00 toward conversion from T-12 ccompact flourescent light bulbs to T-8 bulbs throughout campus.  In November 2008, the grant was amended to allow for partial payments, rather than a single lump sum payment.  All work needed to be completed by April 30, 2010.  The final reimbursement request, submitted in June 2010, was for $1,182,280.  This funding contributed to 31 buildings getting lighting retrofits, with an associated energy reduction of 1,970,466 Watts.

  9. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Lighting

    Associated Project(s): 

    The campus is in the process of retrofitting older T12 fluorescent lighting fixtures by replacing them with more energy-efficient T8 (or T5)fixtures and electronic ballasts. The lighting retrofit proposed in the SAIC report would reduce campus energy consumption by ~1.6 percent; a very small amount of this is due to the use of occupancy sensors and day lighting controls. Extending this retrofit  to smaller campus buildings, replacing other lighting fixtures (besides T-12s), and a wide deployment of both occupancy and daylight sensors (which can reduce  lighting use by 20 percent to 80 percent depending on location) should be able to  provide significantly more energy savings than predicted in the SAIC report. The campus target for lighting is 2 percent.

  10. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Envelope

    Associated Project(s): 

    The SAIC report derives most of its envelope-related savings from window replacement and roof insulation, assuming that only 1 percent of campus energy can be saved by weatherization. The report did not consider changes such as entry-way retrofits to reduce heat loss during entry and exit or improvements in insulation in areas besides roofs. Additionally, the report made no estimation of chilled water savings due to either weatherization or wall insulation, or any potential savings from decreasing heat gain through roofs due to improved reflectivity or vegetative roofs. Improvements to building envelope, weatherization, improving insulation levels in roofs and other areas, and tightening building infiltration and exfiltration would offer a 4 percent reduction in campus energy use, though more is highly likely. The campus target for envelopes is 1 percent.

  11. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Building (Retro) Commissioning

    Associated Project(s): 

    Commissioning for existing buildings (sometimes referred to as retro-commissioning or RCx) is a systematic process for investigating, analyzing, and optimizing the performance of building systems by improving their operation and maintenance to ensure their continued performance over time. This process helps make the building systems perform interactively to meet current facility requirements. The campus RCx teams have found a 29 percent average reduction in energy use and emissions for the 14 existing buildings (2,347,170 sq. ft.) they have examined. This success rate shows that there is enormous potential for this reduction strategy. Campus RCx activities have included: repairing and recalibrating sensors, valves and dampers, upgrading control systems, demand control ventilation, and implementing scheduling for air handling units, among others. The current RCx program is being augmented by several Energy Service Company (ESCO) contractors. A plan to revisit every building on a 5- to 8-year basis should also be instituted in order to maintain these savings. A direct-digital control command center to monitor temperature control and alarms to determine when systems fail or inappropriate temperature settings are being utilized will be constructed by the end of calendar year 2012. Based on the campus RCx program performance to date, savings proposed by SAIC for this section can be increased. The new target for RCx is 12 percent. 

  12. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Fume Hoods

    Associated Project(s): 

    The campus is estimated to have between 1,700 and 1,800 fume hoods in operation at the present time. The majority of these are constant air volume (CAV) hoods without heat recovery that operate continuously. Several hundred variable air volume (VAV) hoods also exist, which are in operation only when the hood sash is raised. These hoods, however, are often operated continuously. Based on a Trane TRACE energy model for a typical fume hood on campus, the cost of conditioning air to replace the air vented by a CAV fume hood over the course of a year is estimated to be approximately $5,500 per year. The energy model also predicts an energy usage for VAV hoods, CAV hoods using heat recovery, and VAV hoods using heat recovery to cost about $2,100, $3,200, and $1,500, respectively. Fewer than 200 of the campus’ 1,700 fume hoods are VAV. These figures provide an opportunity to significantly reduce fume hood energy consumption. If the campus takes into account some portion of fume hoods that utilize VAV or heat recovery, the University can conservatively assume the average cost of hood operation to be $3,750 per year. Using this average cost, the total energy cost that can be attributed to campus fume hoods is roughly 9 percent of the campus total. The University believes the physical number of fume hoods in operation can be reduced by 20 percent to 25 percent. This is based on the fact that many rooms have multiple hoods that do not require simultaneous use, and that many of these fume hoods are currently used for chemical storage and cannot be removed. The remaining fume hoods should all be converted to VAV systems with heat recovery—these can reduce a CAV hood's energy consumption by 70 percent. This strategy will also require an educational component. Groups and individuals will need to be educated on operating hoods correctly and to shut the hood sashes when not in use. The above actions can reduce campus energy consumption by at least 2 percent. Our new target for fume hoods is 2 percent.

  13. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Information Technology (IT) and Electrical Equipment

    Associated Project(s): 

    The SAIC report assumes very little potential for savings from the purchase of ENERGY STAR® equipment such as computers and printers. Thin client computers being deployed on campus today offer the potential for a 90 percent reduction in energy use compared to desktop computers. A broad deployment of low-energy computing equipment, server virtualization, consolidation of IT facilities (web servers, file servers, terminal servers) and reduction in the total number of server instances can all yield significant savings on both costs, equipment purchase expenses, and campus IT costs. Use of standards more aggressive than ENERGY STAR® for all equipment purchases (i.e. washers and dryers in residence halls, etc.) can yield substantial savings. Students are becoming increasingly independent of campus computer labs, preferring to remotely access campus computing resources as needed. Campus’ decentralized IT status results in a disparity of these and other practices. For example, many IT groups discourage users to enact computer power management settings or turn off their computers in the evening and the weekends to allow for security upgrades. However, technologies such as Wake or LAN can allow computers to be powered down and reactivated for upgrades. The target for IT and other electrical equipment is 1 percent.

  14. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Behavioral Changes and Incentives

    Associated Project(s): 

    Although the SAIC report describes the potential energy savings from behavioral changes in its section on metering, it does not include it in its analysis. The University believes a well designed incentive and education program can reduce campus energy consumption by at least 5 percent. Such a program should seek to ensure that cost savings from energy conservation measures benefit building users (e.g. “energy rebates” to students in high-performing departments, or energy-driven reductions in overhead rates for faculty). In addition, adding real-time energy displays in campus buildings and via electronic media can help promote awareness and incentive for improvement. Many buildings have limited or no control over their thermostat settings. However, the departments that occupy these spaces do get a substantial influence in setting building temperatures and enacting more reasonable settings. This will require behavioral change from the academic units and the building occupants. The target for behavioral changes is 5 percent. 

  15. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Other HVAC

    Associated Project(s): 

    This category includes conversion from constant air volume reheat to variable air volume, eliminating summer steam usage (reheat), heat recovery, variable speed drives for fans and pumps, and steam system maintenance (including trap replacement and pipe insulation). The target for other HVAC is 12.5 percent.

  16. SAIC Report in the iCAP: Hot Water

    Associated Project(s): 

    This category includes using instantaneous and semi-instantaneous hot water heaters, increasing insulation on hot water tanks, utilizing recovered heat from chiller condensers and other sources, and temperature setbacks. The target for hot water is 4.5 percent.

  17. Student Sustainability Committee award application

    The Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) applied for (and later won) the Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award in 2010. 

    SSC is a sub-entity of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with the primary purpose of bringing potential sustainable projects to fruition on the campus of UIUC. Students on the committee, advised by University administrators and faculty members, evaluate and select sustainable projects to fund through a comprehensive three-step project approval process. Through its selection process, the committee exercises its enormous potential in seeding and developing novel and innovative sustainable practices in construction, building and grounds management, and energy production.