Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sustainable energy efforts led by Dr. Crabtree

By Erin Vogel

Published: Monday, April 4, 2011

Updated: Monday, April 4, 2011 00:04

Distinguished Professor of Physics at UIC Dr. George Crabtree is spearheading several important efforts to remind the university and the surrounding community of the importance of sustainable energy.

Dr. Crabtree, who worked at Argonne National Laboratory for more than twenty years before he arrived at UIC, has led workshops for the Department of Energy on Energy. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on the hydrogen economy and on meeting sustainable energy challenges.

Crabtree currently teaches Physics 116, a new general education course titled "Energy for Future Decision-Makers." The course is tailored to be accessible for students regardless of their backgrounds.

According to the course description, Physics 116 "will prepare students to evaluate the inevitable energy policy changes that will occur, to make decisions as future legislators, businesspeople, city planners, and voters on the best approaches to meet energy challenges."

For most of his projects, Crabtree works closely with Thomas Lipsmeyer, Program Coordinator of the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE). Lipsmeyer was introduced to Crabtree when he was working in the Physics Department as the Graduate Advisor.

Lipsmeyer, who comes from more of a musical background than a scientific one, helped Crabtree pull together his program visions on sustainability and energy at UIC. The goal of the Summer Institute is "to educate future decision makers on energy and sustainability lectures dealing with ‘big picture' issues."

The SISE, which will have a focus on graduate students, will take place from August 7-19th. Lipsmeyer views the Institute as a good opportunity to find a direction for the future of energy policy.

"We have all these different interests vying for policy, for architecture, for energy, for science," said Lipsmeyer. "In my opinion, the Institute is a really good opportunity to get people in these different areas to ask ‘What do we think the best direction is, and how are we going to move ourselves there?'"

Lipsmeyer admitted that he was a little surprised to discover Crabtree's progressive attitudes towards the environment and energy, despite the fact that Crabtree is from an earlier generation.

"I always assumed the older generations were either not interested or just more conservative," said Lipsmeyer. "But here he is, and now I'm the one following, trying to catch up with him."

Crabtree, however, isn't as surprised. "I think a lot of it just comes from thinking," he said. "Five years ago, when I didn't know anything about energy or sustainability, I wouldn't have given it another thought. Now it's different – it's intellectually interesting, it's the next big thing coming. It's fun to be part of that and break some ground.

"It's enormously satisfying," Crabtree added. "You never know the outcome. But I can say, ‘Hey, I'm making a difference here.' It's wonderful."

Dr. Crabtree's upcoming project, the University of Common Sense, will take place this Tuesday, April 5, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m, in Student Center East Room 302.

Crabtree received an award from the Institute for Policy and Civil Engagement for the University of Common Sense, which is a free half-day event sponsored by the UIC Office of Sustainability and Energy Council.

The purpose of the University of Common Sense is to "promote awareness and policy engagement concerning carbon emission at the personal, institutional (UIC), city and national levels" according to the event's website.

"It's all about engaging with the whole chain," said Crabtree. "We don't know what's at the end of the chain, but when you engage with the whole chain you have a much better perspective on what can be done, how it can be done differently, and how you feel about it."

Workshop panelists that will be featured are Dr. Crabtree; Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architects; Inc., UIC Associate Chancellor for Sustainability Cynthia Klein-Banai; Peter Locke, Co-founder and Managing Director of TerraLocke Sustainability Consults; and Thomas Cushing, Development Consultant of Clean Energy Trust.

The event will also include a free, low-carbon footprint lunch made up of locally-sourced ingredients. Those interested in attending can register beforehand at https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/1318920.

Article can be viewed at: http://www.chicagoflame.com/news/sustainable-energy-efforts-led-by-dr-crabtree-1.2139543

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