Category: Uncategorized

Prairie Restoration and Bee Campus USA Internship, Summer 2017

The Office of Sustainability obtained a small grant to restore a prairie area on the west side of campus.  This internship supports this project and the Bee Campus USA initiative currently underway.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Complete installation of prairie plants as needed
  • Watering and general maintenance of prairie restoration site
  • Develop content for Bee Campus USA website
  • Help coordinate and/or promote events(s) related to building and/or installing native bee houses around campus
  • Potentially researching Service-Learning projects


Preferred Skills

  • Interest in native plants and native pollinators
  • Interest in green infrastructure and natural systems restoration
  • Good research skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Some knowledge of plants a plus

This position will be a member of the Sustainability Intern Cohort. The Sustainability Internship Program (SIP) is an initiative through the Office of Sustainability that offers hands-on learning experiences that help achieve the UIC Climate Commitments and sustainability within our core functions of teaching, research, and community service. The program consists of weekly seminars and field outings on a range of educational and skill building topics including: environmental and energy sustainability issues, cultural sustainability issues, institutional challenges and change management, campus structure and administration, campus sustainability programs and job readiness. The SIP requirements include: meeting weekly work plan goals, frequent meetings with project supervisor, attendance at weekly seminars and outings, blog posts and a final poster presentation.

This paid position requires 15 hrs/week during the summer term including time in the seminar. Students could receive internship credit hours (student must confirm with their academic advisor).

Undergraduates from all disciplines are encouraged to participate.

Environmental Determinants of Health Research


The Department of Medicine is seeking an undergraduate student intern to assist with data/information

collection and research into the environmental determinants of disease, such as chemical, biological and

physical agents that impinge on health. The intern will work with Department staff and faculty to

prepare a report on the study of environmental determinants of disease, focusing on opportunities for

the UIC community to participate collaboratively in research and public service efforts. The project will

involve web-based research, and review of publications and reports from the Federal funding agencies.


 Identify research efforts that are underway locally/nationally/internationally that study the

environmental determinants of disease.

 Identify opportunities for DOM faculty and researchers to participate in efforts to study

environmental determinants of disease.

 Identify opportunities for the UIC community to mobilize research findings to benefit public

health in Illinois, nationally, and internationally.

Ideal Candidate:

 Interested in a career in biomedical research and/or global and public health

 Interested in the connection between environmental factors and health

 Attention to detail and ability to work/research independently

 Excellent communication skills and strong interpersonal communication

 Familiarity with the Microsoft Office Suite

The Determinants Intern will be a member of the Sustainability Intern Cohort.  The Sustainability Internship Program (SIP) is an initiative through the Office of Sustainability that offers hands-on learning experiences that help achieve the overall mission of greater social, economic, and environmental sustainability in the campus community. The program consists of weekly seminars and field outings on a range of educational and skill building topics including: environmental and energy sustainability issues, cultural sustainability issues, institutional challenges and change management, campus structure and administration, campus sustainability programs and job readiness. The SIP requirements include: meeting weekly work plan goals, frequent meetings with project supervisor, attendance at weekly seminars and outings, blog posts, and a final poster presentation.

This position is 15 hrs/week from May 31-August 5th.

Where did the trees go?

Green ash tree (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is the second most popular tree at UIC, comprising of almost 7% of all trees on campus (out of 5,400)

Green ash tree (Fraxinus
pennsylvanica) is the second most popular tree at UIC, comprising of almost 7% of all trees on campus (out of 5,400).

This winter, UIC will be removing several trees around campus. The majority of these trees are ash and the UIC Grounds department has logged their health status and location beginning in September 2015.  Since then, the health of these trees has deteriorated and they must be removed.

A half-inch metallic green pest is making our trees sick. This pest is known as the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennus) and its larvae feed on the inner bark of the tree, slowly killing it from the inside. Read more about this invasive species here

UIC currently removes any ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) showing signs of emerald ash borer infestation, as well as neighboring ash trees. The impact that the borer will likely have on the campus forest serves as evidence of the need for greater campus tree diversity to prevent such a large impact by an insect that affects only one genus of tree.

Carly Rizor, superintendent of the Grounds department at UIC, is committed to preserving and maintaining our campus forest. “UIC will continue to work with professional arborists to ensure our canopy remains diverse yet compatible for our urban environment.”  

UIC takes great pride in our tree inventory, as we are a Tree Campus USA university since 2011. Read more about UIC’s involvement in the Arbor Day Foundations’ Tree Campus USA program, as well as how to join our Tree Care Committee.


Sustainability Internship at the African American Cultural Center

Lexxus Washington - AACCAs a Sustainability Intern in the African American Cultural Center my main goal is research and student engagement in cultural diversity as well as environmental sustainability issues. My first major project was a Coat Drive facilitated for two underserved community shelters on Chicago’s South side. Using three different drop off sites on campus and publicizing the Center’s efforts through our partners on campus. We were able to collect approximately 30 coats for women, children and men in need during this harsh winter.

Another project that I will be working on is the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Grant. The Cultural center will collaborate with the Office of Sustainability to include student interns in developing and executing Smart Grid programs and will train the students in ethnographic engagement methods to educate students and others about sustainable practices and energy conservation.

Additionally, the African American Cultural Center hosts “Brown Bags” that are a community building lunch hour program throughout the semester for the UIC campus. One of these events was a #communitymatters event where students were able to learn more about the cultural center and other organizations and community partners through asset mapping and storytelling. These events reflected UIC’s guarantee to creating an area of diversity and equity for all students, faculty and staff. Located in the Center’s library is the American Negro Exhibition, which is curated by Jacqueline Smith, a graduate research assistant in the office. Images, objects and narratives are used to explore the history of Chicago’s 1940 American Negro Exposition and across the hall located in the gallery is the exhibit “Urbs in Horto-City in a Garden”.

Lexxus Washington

LEED Building Produces Energy, Carbon Credits

In 2009, UIC’s Douglas Hall underwent a massive renovation and became incredibly energy efficient. So much so that the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded UIC with a LEED-Gold rating. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the national recognition verification system that a building is environmentally friendly and a healthy place to work and live. Not only does the building use less energy than conventional buildings, it actually produces energy!

DG11_09_12_026.JPGAs part of the reconstruction, 245 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were installed on the roof of the home of UIC’s College of Business. These PV panels convert solar radiation into direct current (DC) electricity. UIC tracks the amount of electricity produced, and anyone can see the energy created at any given day. For example, this year’s Independence Day created 347 kWh of electricity. How much energy did the PV panels create on your birthday? Find out here!

Since its installation in September 2011, the solar panels have produced a whopping 195 MWh! That’s  practically 67 MWh annually, or roughly 8% of the buildings energy needs. That’s 67,000 kWh renewable energy produced plus 67,000 kWh of energy not produced from polluting coal-fired power plants.

UIC is reducing the need to use energy from carbon-producing energy sources and therefore reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. In the 2009 UIC Climate Action Plan, UIC commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2004 levels by 40% by 2030 and by at least 80% by 2050, without accounting for offsets. The plan outlines various strategies to accomplish this by creating energy efficiency projects, improving transportation options, improving ground operations, recycling, and using clean and renewable resources. PV 2014

The PV panel project on top Douglas Hall has contributed to reducing greenhouse gases by 43 metric tons of carbon dioxide! Although that may not seem like a huge number, remember that is just one small classroom building- just imagine if all of UIC buildings acted like Douglas Hall!

Not only to the solar panels reduce carbon emissions, so do the other innovative energy efficient systems built for Douglas hall. Located underground just to north-west of Douglas Hall, one will stand on top of the 64 geothermal wells dug 500 feet deep into the ground. That’s deeper than the 28-story University Hall next to the well field! The building uses ground source heat pumps to tap into the geothermal energy to both heat and cool it. Douglas hall uses a closed-loop system with sensors, heat pumps and air exchangers, taking advantage of the relatively constant 50-degree F earth temperatures in the well field to maintain a comfortable indoor air environment year-round.

The other ingenious energy efficient aspects of Douglas Hall that helped it earn LEED Gold are automated shades to manage heat load and cooling sensors on the roof to detect the heat load inside the building. The system automatically adjusts lights, cooling/heating levels, and heights of window blinds in order to regulate the building temperature.

Through the Chevy Clean Energy Campus program, UIC has sold these carbon reductions to Chevy, who has committed to retiring these credits. Revenue from those sales will be used to support UIC’s Sustainability Internship Program and create more energy savings for the campus.

The photovoltaic system on the roof of Douglas Hall was partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.


UIC in the news!

UIC and the Office of Sustainability in the news:

Healthviews Sustainable

Business Magazine

Green Building & Design

Chicagoland Buildings & Environments

Chevy Carbon Credits

Volunteers needed for the opening of a new Habitat for Humanity ReStore Chicago

Volunteers needed for the opening of a new Habitat for Humanity ReStore Chicago! People needed to help anytime Monday through Saturday 9am-4pm at 6040 N. Pulaski!.

Come meet people with similar interests and help a great organization while working with reclaimed building materials.

Email or call (773) 539-6040

UIC earns STARS Silver Rating for Sustainability and receives the 28th Annual Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award

Chicago, IL– The University of Illinois at Chicago has achieved wide recognition for our sustainable initiatives on campus. UIC earned a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  UIC also earned the 28th Annual Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award for 2014 for our commitment to improving the environmental health and sustainability of Illinois.


STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. UIC’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website:

USTARS Silver logoIC has been using STARS as a way to monitor our progress on sustainability since its early beginnings as STARS Pilot campus and then a Charter Participant. The Office of Sustainability was founded in 2008 and was one of the first in the Chicago area. The diversity of metrics used to derive the composite STARS rating, reflects the diversity of our campus in its sustainability initiatives, as well as its population. In 2011 we received a Bronze ranking. UIC has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 2004 levels by 2050.

“We worked with dozens of campus partners to acquire the information to achieve credits for the over 100 qualitative and quantitative metrics in STARS” commented Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability. “Through this process we have engaged more of the campus community in thinking about how sustainability relates to the work they do.”

With more than 650 participants on six continents, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in four overall areas: 1) operations 2) academics, 3) engagement and 4) planning, administration.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Stephanie Herrera. “UIC has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

“By achieving a Silver rating in 2014 in the more vigorous version of STARS version 2.0, we have proudly demonstrated in actions our commitment to these goals” commented Dr. Klein-Banai.


Achieving these goals does not only get the University of Illinois at Chicago recognized by AASHE, but our own state also recognizes the great strides we have made to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions and making our state a better place to live and have committed to improving the environmental health and sustainability of Illinois.


pictured are Associated Chancellor of the Office of Sustainability Cynthia Klein-Banai and Director of Project Management of Facilities Management Vytenis Milunas

The Governor’s office noted that, “UIC’s commendable green practices serve as a model of environmental stewardship for residents, businesses, and institutions through out the state.”

The Governor’s office goes on to say, “Implementing energy efficiency upgrades, fuel savings, pollution and waste reductions, and other sustainability improvements requires vision,  strong leadership, and the dedication of individuals throughout an organization. I applaud your prioritization of these important objectives and your accomplishments in these areas.

“As Governor, I am encouraged by the progress that we have achieved toward a healthier and safer environment in Illinois by working in partnership across the public and private sectors. Through efforts spanning from grassroots community initiatives to corporate sustainability policies to new state laws and programs, our collective work is helping protect Illinois’ air, land, water and energy resources for generations to come. The prosperity of our state depends on the quality of our environment.  Indeed, our efforts to improve sustainability also support positive economic growth and green job creation in Illinois.”



About the UIC Office of Sustainability:

The Office of Sustainability helps coordinate initiatives on campus that bring UIC towards greater social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Select current initiatives are focused on improvements to campus-wide recycling, active transportation options, and energy efficiency. Find out more at the UIC’s Office of Sustainability website at or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

About AASHE:

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation.  It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit

For more information about the STARS program, visit

About the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award:

Since 1987, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) has presented the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award (Governor’s Award) to organizations in Illinois that demonstrate a commitment to our economy, society and environment through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. The Governor’s Award is given to companies and organizations that implement techniques or technologies that reduce or eliminate pollutants, toxicity and other environmental impacts, including the amount of and/or toxicity of pollutants that would have otherwise been released into the environment.

Join the EcoCampus Leadership Board!

EcoCampus is a club for undergraduate and graduate students interested in all aspects of campus sustainability dedicated to promoting sustainability and environmental justice at UIC and around Chicago. All of the approaches are student-based, focusing on what students at a University can do. With ideas, motivation, and hope, they’ve managed to accomplish many great things at UIC and for the greater Chicago area. In the 2011-2012 activities include: campus tree plantings, recycling ambassadorships at sporting events, Campus Conservation Nationals, RecycleMania, and of course- EcoJam!

EcoCampus is recruiting awesome students to fill their leadership board. Currently they are looking for the following:

– Vice President

– Assistant Secretary

– Webmaster (need applicants!)

– Marketing Chair (need applicants!)

– Advertising Chair

– Photographer

– Residence Hall Ambassadors

If you are interested in filling any of these positions, please fill out our Position Selection Form: BY TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH AT MIDNIGHT

If you are unable to make it to the meeting but would still like to run for a position, don’t despair! Please fill out the Google form and then email us at so that we know, and we will make it work.

Higher Education Institutions Commit to Reduce Energy Use

July 18, 2014—(Chicago, IL)—The City of Chicago announced today that 10 local colleges and
universities have joined Retrofit Chicago’s Commercial Buildings Initiative (CBI), committing to
reduce energy consumption by 20% in at least one campus building over the next five
years. The commitments grew out of a new collaborative developed by local universities to
work together to identify best practices for reducing energy consumption. The collaborative,
known as the Alliance to Retrofit Chicago Higher Education (ARCH), launched in late 2012 with
funding from the Joyce Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, and Comer Foundation.
By joining CBI, these schools have pledged to retrofit over 3.7 million square feet. When this
work is done, collectively, the buildings will save over $1.2 million a year, have created up to 30
jobs and have a carbon impact equivalent to taking more 1,900 cars off the road. They join
iconic Chicago landmarks, like the Merchandise Mart, Rookery Building, Wrigley Building,
Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile and Shedd Aquarium.
“The Alliance to Retrofit Chicago Higher Education has been a key partner in bringing targeted
energy efficiency support and solutions to Chicago-area colleges and universities” said Karen
Weigert, the City of Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Mayor Emanuel and the entire city
welcome these 10 ARCH members’ commitment to a challenge that is strengthening Chicago
across 48 participants and 37 million square feet.”
The ten institutions joining CBI include: City Colleges of Chicago; Columbia College Chicago;
DePaul University; Illinois Institute of Technology; Loyola University; Northwestern University;
Roosevelt University; School of the Art Institute; University of Illinois at Chicago; and University
of Chicago. Lewis University, located in Romeoville, Illinois, is another member of ARCH.
“Reducing energy consumption in our existing buildings will help Northwestern achieve its goal
of becoming a more sustainable campus and reducing energy use,” said Northwestern
President Morton Schapiro. “We are pleased to participate in this important initiative and to
partner with other Chicago-area colleges and universities.”
ARCH was founded in 2012 after Mayor Emanuel’s Green Ribbon Committee identified the role
higher education could play in meeting the City’s climate goals. ARCH is committed to dvancing energy efficiency investment to create a more sustainable future and help
organizations to reduce energy consumption and costs.
“The partnership has demonstrated what can be accomplished when institutions work together
towards a common purpose,” said Adele Simmons, President of the Global Philanthropy
Partnership and member of the Green Ribbon Committee, who conceived the idea for ARCH.
“While each institution was making progress on its own, the ten schools collectively will be able
to amplify their impact significantly,” she added.
“UIC’s Climate Action Plan calls for us to reduce our carbon emissions by at least 80 percent by
2050,” said Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability at the University of
Illinois-Chicago, when asked why joining ARCH was beneficial to UIC. “Through ARCH, we have
accelerated our progress towards meeting our 2050 goal. Our commitment today to reduce
energy use by at least 20 percent in our Science and Engineering Laboratories Complex within
five years is just one example. We’re glad to share our experience and overcome common, but
complicated, hurdles to energy efficiency investment, as well as learn from our peers.”
Today’s commitment demonstrates the schools’ dedication to further action and results. The
alliance is poised to tackle larger issues, like new opportunities to engage utility programs and
establishing novel funding mechanisms for efficiency projects.