Monday, January 13, 2014

Office of Sustainability's 2013 Accomplishments!

As UIC’s Office of Sustainability enters its seventh year of operation, we would like to update you on our recent successes. Every one of these accomplishments are due to collaborations with our campus partners and brought forth by the dedication of the campus community to advancing our environmental sustainability, while providing social and economic benefit to UIC.  Interested in learning more about the Office of Sustainability throughout the year?  Visit our website or sign up for our biweekly newsletter.

Our campus wide, Sustainability Strategic Thinking process, Going beyond Green:  Excellence through Sustainability at UIC, now in its second year, has engaged the UIC community in a campus level charge to "make sustainability the lens through which we begin to view, assess and imagine our work in many areas, from our diversity initiative to curriculum innovations."   This includes not only familiar "green" activities like recycling and increasing energy efficiency, but examining what sustainability means for how we operate at all levels, including teaching, research, processes, operations, and our impact on future communities. The most recent step in this process involved three interactive, townhall meetings that brought together a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff to further identify and explore strategies for sustaining all that we value as a campus.  Phase 1 of this project is complete and the report is available here.
                                                                             
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program and the Active Transportation Alliance are working with UIC to embark on an interactive, community-based process to create a Multi-modal Transportation Plan.  The transportation recommendations of UIC's 2010 Campus Master Plan will serve as the framework to examine current conditions and plan future improvements. The intent of the multimodal transportation plan is to improve the flow of pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles in and around campus to better serve the needs of all travelers, including persons with disabilities. During the planning process, there will be opportunities for UIC students, faculty, and staff, as well as local residents and stakeholders, to provide input.   The first step in this process is to take this interactive survey.

The City of Chicago’s bike sharing program continued to grow with the installation of three more DIVVY Bike Share stations on the east side.  This supplements the stations on the south campus and west side, creating a network of 11 stations on campus. To locate stations, visit the website. Watch for notice on how to get your UIC member rate ($55 for students; $65 for faculty/staff).

The Energy Retrofit Project in the Science and Engineering complex started September; this retrofit will reduce energy consumption by at least 30% and save the university $1.8 million per year.  More information about the specifics of the project can be found here. Many other small energy savings projects are happening as well. Sign up for our Greenlights newsletter to get this news.

The Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy met in October 22nd to discuss the CCSE 2013 report update.  The CCSE is tasked with reporting to the Chancellor on sustainability progress around campus, how to improve and maintain sustainability programs, and setting goals for the committee and other entities on campus to further and improve sustainability on campus.  In this report, the CCSE outlined specific recommendations for next steps in advancing operational sustainability initiatives. One overall item proposes using student projects to study the feasibility of proposed sustainability projects. To get involved or find out more information about the CCSE, please visit the website.

This year, the Governor’s Sustainability Award recognized the continued achievements of UIC, including: 40% of fleet uses alternative fuels, onsite renewable energy, lighting retrofits, electronics recycling, and 10% of staff participate in the transit benefit program. This award acknowledges organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. See the entire list of winners here.

UIC received bronze-level recognition as a Bike Friendly University this past fall. The BFU program recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff, and visitors. The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement, and evaluation/planning, known as the Five E's.  The requirements for this award, as well as a list of all bike friendly universities, can be found here.

The Student Green Fee, now in its second-year, is a $4 semester based fee charged to all students that serves to improve the quality of campus operations, reduce UIC’s environmental impact, and most importantly generate awareness about environmental issues by creating opportunities for students’ involvement.  This fee has allowed the completion of various sustainability projects on campus including the Heritage Garden and Bicycle-Tool Kits stations which can be checked out for free by students at the Student Centers. To apply for funding and to read about other approved projects, visit the Green Fee website.

Other sustainability related accomplishments on campus include:
·         UIC has once again received recognition from the Tree Campus USA Program.  The most recent addition to this recognition was a tree planting event in November next to the Daley Library, where student organizations, volunteers, and staff members planted seven new trees.
·         Ride-Sharing via iCarpool, a social media website to find carpool matches for students, staff, and faculty.
·         Collection of Food Scraps for composting from the Student Centers.  This project started on January 15, 2013 and to date has collected over 216,900 pounds of food scraps from two dining halls.
·     The Great Stuff Exchange (GSX), now it the fifth year, is an annual campus-wide event where units on campus donate and exchange unwanted office and school supplies.  In 2013, the GSX collected 110 boxes of office supplies and only eight boxes remained at the end of the day. In addition, the Office of Sustainability operates a year round “free store” with office and laboratory supplies – contact Joe Iosbaker for more information or to come shop!
·         Building Energy Metering Initiative:  the university will continue to install electronically-monitored meters throughout campus. Currently, 16 buildings on campus are fully electronically metered, 11 on east campus and five on west campus.
·         Full implementation of recycling in all buildings on campus is completed and the recycling numbers continue to rise. Between 2011-2013, Bottles & Cans increased by 101%, while Paper & Cardboard increased by 106%.  More information about recycling on campus can be found here.
·         The number of sustainability-related events on campus continues to grow to over 90, up from 57 in 2012. All upcoming sustainability events can be found on our calendar.
·         Campus Electronic Recycling Program: this yearly event now includes university property and personal electronics.  The next recycling event will be held later in the Spring 2014 semester; be on the lookout for details.
·         The addition of commuting information and options to all employee orientations





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