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All Project Updates



  1. Solar Urbana-Champaign 5.0

    Associated Project(s): 

    Affordable and Sustainable
    Solar Urbana Champaign is returning in 2020 with version 5.0! Offered by the City of Urbana, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, home and business owners throughout Champaign County, Piatt County, and Vermillion County may participate in this program to help pool their buying power to secure significant discounts that make installing solar more affordable. Go here to check for updates on and announcements on our forthcoming, socially-distant Solar Urbana-Champaign 5.0 bulk solar energy purchase program. 

  2. Archived info - previous project description

    Associated Project(s): 

    This project will document existing trees on campus, using a GPS device and collecting tree details into the ArcGIS data layer.  The existing Tree Inventory was last updated in 2006, so it includes trees that have subsequently been removed and it is missing new trees that have been planted.  Through this project, the Tree Inventory will be updated to include all and only existing trees on campus.

  3. It's Earth Week!

    Associated Project(s): 

    It’s Earth Week! Time to Celebrate iCAP 2020

    Fifty years ago this month, millions of Americans fed up with oil spills, smog and pollution took to the streets in a massive environmental protest to educate the public and demand government action.

    That first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement and several landmark laws: the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

    In conjunction with the 50th anniversary, iSEE is celebrating Earth Week with a few virtual events tied to the national Earth Day 2020 theme — climate action — and a fun way to promote sustainability at home!

    iCAP 2020 Celebration and Forum! On Thursday, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., we will celebrate sustainability and the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) during a Facebook livestream event. The first iCAP was written 10 years ago to help the campus achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible, and by 2050 at the latest. Tune in as we showcase the draft of the 2020 iCAP and the hard work of the many people who have contributed their time and effort to this project.

    We've come a long way since the drafting process began, with new ideas for reducing waste, curbing water and energy use, lowering carbon emissions, and promoting sustainability on campus! You can RSVP and sign up for reminders at the Facebook link above.

    Earth Week Bingo! Chart your sustainable activities this week with a game of Earth Week Bingo! You can find a playing card on our website and social media (or download the image at right), then fill in the squares as you complete each activity. 

    Start a compost pile, identify wildlife on a nature walk, switch to reusable water bottles, go a full day without meat, share your favorite nature poem, or take part in one of iSEE's virtual events. When you can say "Bingo!" share your card for a chance to win a sustainability prize!

    Keeling Lecture: We kick off Earth Week today with a talk by Texas Tech University climate scientist and U of I graduate Katharine Hayhoe, who will deliver this year's Keeling Lecture. You can hear her talk, "Climate Science in a Fact-Free World," at 4 p.m. today on Zoom. 

    Hayhoe argues that scientists have to understand the "true roots" of climate denial to engage constructively with those who politicize the science — and possibly identify areas of common ground. This lecture is sponsored by iSEE and the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

    Register on the Facebook event to RSVP. To listen on Zoom: Meeting ID 722 887 599; Password "Keeling"

    A Half-Century of Environmental Activism: Illinois' environmental roots date back more than 50 years to 1969, when a student group formed to stage a program for that first Earth Day in 1970. Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS) — then known as Students for Environmental Controls — arranged for speakers, panel discussions and films about a full slate of environmental topics, from ecological preservation to population growth.

    Volunteers also cleaned up the Boneyard Creek, went door-to-door in an environmental education campaign, and put a car on trial on the Quad for environmental destruction. It was found guilty and sentenced to a sledgehammering!

    Read more about the history of the state's first environmental group.


  4. Grind2Energy

    Associated Project(s): 

    Grind2Energy: Turning Campus Food Waste into Fuel

    The 49,000 students educated at the University of Illinois can generate a lot of food waste. Most of it winds up in a landfill. But for students with a dining hall plan, food waste is ultimately turned into energy, helping the campus reduce its carbon footprint.

    With the "Grind2Energy" system, food scraps are ground down and ultimately run through an anaerobic digester at the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District, producing methane that is used for fuel to power the plant. The system was installed at Florida Avenue Residence Halls last fall, and others are in the works.

    "Hopefully this small piece will be part of a bigger system down the road," said Thurman Etchison, Assistant Director of Housing Dining Services for Equipment and Facilities.

  5. Earth Week Event: Annual Keeling Lecture by Katharine Hayhoe

    Associated Project(s): 

    Join the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and iSEE for the annual Charles David Keeling Lecture. This year we feature noted atmospheric scientist and U of I alumna Katharine Hayhoe discussing “Climate Science in a Fact-Free World.” This "zero carbon" event is vailable on Zoom (Meeting ID: 722 887 599; Password: Keeling).

    April 20, 4–5 PM • Zoom Tony Mancuso • Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE)

    Earth Week Event: Annual Keeling Lecture by Katharine Hayhoe 


  6. Tree Campus USA Celebration - Zoom Meeting

    Thank you to everyone who joined us live or watches later on the CCNet Facebook page!  We enjoyed a great turnout for the Tree Campus USA Celebration, with about 35 people on the Zoom call and a reach of 365 on Facebook.

    This event included a review of the five years that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been designated as a Tree Campus USA, by Brent Lewis. Senior in Integrative Biology student, Maddie Smith, presented the results of her diversity analysis for the campus' urban forest, and the F&S Tree Surgeons, Dustin Reifsteck and Sky Drewes, answered tree-related questions.  At the end of the hour, community announcements included Arbor Day and Earth Month events coming up.

    Celebrate National Arbor Day next week on April 24, 2020!

    Links from announcements and presentation

    The event concluded with a round of thanks, and several were captured in the chat log.

    12:56:43     From  Eliana Brown : Thank you to the Grounds Dept!
    12:58:28     From  Samantha Fisher : Thank you for this presentation! I really enjoy your monthly presentations.
    13:00:02     From  Stacy Gloss : Thanks CCNET for a great presentation today. Awesome collaborative effort.  Everyone have a great day!
    13:00:33     From  ekamarah : Thank you everyone for these interesting presentations and conversations. Have a great day.
    13:00:37     From  Brent Lewis : Yes, thank you everyone!
    13:00:49     From  Eliana Brown : Thank you, everyone! Great job!
    13:01:08     From  pattsi : Stay well everyone
    13:01:12     From  Marya Ryan : Yes, great presentations! So glad to reconnect with CCNet after a few years away.
    13:01:24     From  Miranda Vieson : Thanks!
    13:01:25     From  Marcus Ricci : It was a great presentation, with all of the different presenters nicely tying in to the theme. The Q&A was cool.
    13:01:26     From  Jenna Kurtzweil : Thanks, everyone!!
    13:01:26     From  Kate Gardiner : Love CCNet, thanks Morgan!

  7. Update on MTD's transition to clean energy vehicles

    Associated Project(s): 

    We currently have 94 hybrids in our fleet of 111 vehicles, which makes us 85% hybrid. However, we have 11 more hybrids being made right now as replacement vehicles that are supposed to start arriving in the next week. At that point, we’ll have 105 hybrids, making up 95% of the fleet. I know that’s starting now and will certainly be done by the end of the year, but I don’t the exact timeline (I would imagine within a few months we’ll have them all, though).

    We did order the two hydrogen buses that will be arriving later this year and then go into service in 2021. We did design that fueling station to be scalable, because we feel really good about this technology and think it holds a lot of promise for us, so if it does work out, the station was designed to be modified and go from accommodating two buses to six or ten or twelve as easily as possible. So, if funding allows, I would be on the look-out for those. - MTD representative to F&S inquiry in April 2020

  8. Green Office Opportunities!

    Many university employees want to set an example for students by taking environmental action at work, but they aren’t sure where to start. The Certified Green Office Program is designed to identify simple, inexpensive actions you can take in your workspace.

    In its first four years, more than 50 offices and over 1,000 staff and faculty joined the Certified Green Office Program. In the program’s fifth year, we invite you and your office to make a pledge to reduce your use of resources and improve the overall sustainability of your office’s day-to-day practices.

    Small actions make a big difference when many take those small actions. The Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) outlines campus plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and we believe everyone can play a part in achieving that goal through their day-to-day actions. With your help, we can reduce the environmental impact of this campus and strengthen its position as a national leader in sustainability.

    Click here for more information about the Certified Green Office Program.

  9. history note from F&S

    F&S has used both GEM (8?) and e-Ride (2) electric service vehicles as well as 8 other small, gas powered Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs), 2 each from 4 different manufacturers totaling 8 LSVs. I’ve attached an email that has a link to a story posted on about our use. While a variety of vehicles were used they were pretty much all gone in 5-8 years for many reasons including capability, reliability, parts supplies, vendors going out of business and personnel concerns. None in service currently.


    From July 2008, by Pete Varney:

    The University did in fact purchase 8 vehicles, we are calling them "mini-trucks."  Chery is one of the OEMs.  We purchased two each of Tiger, Mag Intl, Vantage and Cushman (no longer selling in the US).  The desire is to test their effectiveness as a service vehicle on campus.  We have a large fleet of service vehicles (250+) and the majority of them never travel more that a couple of miles each day and never exceed the campus speed limit, 25 mph.


    This has been a long and at sometimes, difficult, project to get rolling, but now includes electric vehicles (E-ride) as well.  All part of the University's goal of conserving energy and increasing sustainability.



  10. Edu005 Sustainable Scholars Program - Submitted

    The Education SWATeam made the following recommendation on 4/2/2020: 

    Develop a Sustainable Scholars Program (SSP), on the model of the existing popular and prestigious James Scholar program. Student recipients would enter the program as freshmen, choose a pathway of sustainability-themed courses across campus comparable to a minor, be eligible for priority registration times, and undertake extra honors-level assignments in these courses mentored by their professors-instructors. Oversight of the program to be provided by the Associate Director for Education at iSEE.

    Attached is the SWATeam recommendation Edu005 Sustainable Scholars Program with comments from the Education SWATeam.

  11. Edu004 Sustainability Unit in ENG100 - Submitted

    The Education SWATeam made the following recommendation on 4/2/2020: 

    Establish a sustainability unit for piloting through ENG100, which provides freshmen with initial exposure to the relationship between sustainability actions and their own course of study. Unit will consist of one week of lesson plans, taught by course undergraduate teaching assistants, including a variety of learning activities and discussions. iSEE will offer training to undergraduate teaching assistants through a short workshop on sustainability, and lesson plans/learning objectives will be developed by iSEE faculty to ensure appropriateness of material. After the pilot period, freshman sustainability units could be extended to additional colleges for incorporation into their own freshman programming.

    Attached is the SWATeam recommendation Edu004 Sustainability Unit in ENG100 with comments from the Education SWATeam.