Monthly archives: April, 2015

Bike UIC Internship

Qi Lu - Bike UICIt has been my honor to be an intern in the bike project of Office of Sustainability this semester. UIC is one of the three Bicycle Friendly Campuses in Illinois. In preparation for earning that designation, the UIC Office of Sustainability gathered data about bicyclist behavior. Their study and findings were published in the 2013 UIC Bicycle Planning Report. During the Fall Semester 2014 and the Spring Semester 2015, UIC studied campus community attitudes and suggestions for implementation of dedicated bicycle lanes on campus. The desire to create convenient, safe routes for bicyclists and pedestrians is also documented in the 2010 UIC Master Plan. In the spring 2015, Office of Sustainability focused on getting feedback from different campus organizations including students and leaderships and tried to figure out what should be done next. Comparing with other campuses that already have implemented bicycle plan, it is the time for UIC to build up itself policy and regulate pathway usage. In this project, we are trying to set up relative rules for path and sidewalk usage, and encourage more people to choose bicycling. Therefore, pedestrians and cyclists can share the path harmoniously and more people will ride a bicycle, which all contributes to the sustainability of the campus and reduction of green house gas emission. The most interesting element of my internship is to record the condition of bike racks on campus because the process of recording will let me know the campus better and apply my planning knowledge to reality.

Qi Lu

Sustainability Internship at EnterpriseWorks Chicago

Hypothetically and ideologically, economic sustainability cannot exist in isolation from environmental sustainability as goods and services depend on the input of raw materials for production. Unfortunately, this would necessitate the assumption that both concepts of sustainability are held within the framework of an indefinite period of time, which is in reality not the case. Economic sustainability considers first what state and situation of economic prosperity, utility, and capability the generation following us will inherit, then the generation following them, and so on. This is an incremental process, concerned first with the livelihood of people already here and afterwards what the effect of the actions taken to better their lives will do to generations following them. I’m not saying this is right, this is simply what I’ve observed. Economic sustainability as it operates within this incremental process and time-frame is nearly unreliant upon environmental sustainability, which is how we got where we are today. Eventually, yes, what we have done and (as it appears) will continue to do to our planet will cause our resources to run out, our atmosphere to degrade, but this won’t happen immediately so we take care of “first things first.” Yes, water will become scarcer and food production more difficult, but human ingenuity is destructively boundless and production will persevere despite the far-off consequences. The fact that these two forms of sustainability have and will in the immediate future continue to operate in near complete isolation of each other is the root of the largest obstacle environmentalists face. (I personally believe) This is the most pressing issue currently facing my generation because (also in my personal opinion) environmental sustainability cannot succeed without being intrinsically marries to economic sustainability, given current social and intrinsic ideologies persist.

Nicole Callan

Sustainability at the Great Cities Institute

The Great Cities Institute 2015 Sustainability Plan seeks to promote healthy changes while discouraging existing harmful practices, as much for the earth as for the health and happiness of employees. This plan compiles weeks of research into simple and clear cut steps to reduce waste, energy, usage, and consumption, while increasing awareness and meaningful action. These proposed changes will be evaluated based on cost, convenience, and how much it helps the earth and the GCI employees. My philosophy behind this approach is that sustainability is impossible to bring about through a single initiative. Even if I had access to vast resources and implemented a single innovative solar energy design to completely isolate the CUPPA hall from the energy grid there would still be more problems to solve equally as important as energy independence. Granted, I don’t have the resources to install giant solar panels on the roof of the CUPPA Hall but my proposed solutions do range from such diverse topics as energy conservation, pollution reduction, waste reduction, and even employee productivity. Whether one or all of my proposed solutions are eventually implemented into the GCI suite, I can promise that every single one will in some way or another contribute to that overarching goal of “sustainability”. That is after all the ultimate goal of this project. I have always been passionate about what I believe in and am eternally grateful that this internship gave me the initiative and freedom to really dedicate myself to that purpose

Nicolas Buitrago

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

Internship at the UIC Children’s Center

Jaden Cruz - UIC Children's CenterMy internship thus far has been increasingly interesting experience with the UIC Children’s Center. The Children’s Center was created so that any UIC student, faculty member, or staff member could receive child care for their child aged three to five, be at UIC, and use less energy to go about their day. There are two major goals of this internship that have developed. The first goal is to teach the children about sustainability; I have chosen climate change and recycling as the major topics to pursue with the children. The second is the creation of a butterfly way station on the playground of the UIC Children’s Center. On the education side of this internship I have found it is astronomically difficult to find a course of action to grow the understanding of these children. All of the children are between three and five and they all have no prior knowledge of any topic. As for constructing the ways station, the logistics have been my greatest enemy. Overall, my personal goal is to open these children’s minds to sustainability and connect them to the world at large. They are at an age that they will forget the specifics of my teachings, but hopefully they will have a feeling that leaves their minds open. These children one day will be dictating how our society functions. Shaping how they view themselves in the world is critical to creating a more concerned person. If I create an awareness in them that drives them to protect the diminishing resources we have, I have succeeded.

Jaden Cruz

Interning at the Office for Capital Programs

When people watch television, or hear from others, they may get a notion that office work is boring and soul consuming. Working for the first time in an office environment did not give me that thought at all. As an intern for the Office for Capital Programs I learned what it was like to work in an office as well as gaining experience towards working under the wing of a team of individuals that takes care of building management for the University. The entire office is composed of project managers, engineers, architects, and directors who help guide building projects of the University into success. What makes working for the office interesting is the sustainable efforts the office puts into their work on a daily basis. In the UIC Climate Action Plan, it is stated that all new construction projects and big renovations should be LEED Silver Certified. What LEED stands for is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED certification follows a point system that ranks from certified to platinum. A building can gain points through environmental implements like using recycled content, water use reduction to 20%, green power, and construction waste management. Douglas Hall is an example of a LEED certified building, with a current rank in gold. Douglas Hall consists of geothermal walls, automatic lighting systems, water savers, and floors made out of recycled rubber that does not give out toxins to the environment. Hopefully, most if not all UIC buildings will be renovated towards sustainability for the future.

To help buildings achieve LEED silver certification, the Office for Capital Programs follows the Sustainability Building Standards and makes sure that not only UIC’s engineers and architects follow the standards, but also outside companies that are granted working construction for the University. The growing document towards sustainability building standards include using at least 10% recycled materials as well as 2.5% renewable materials and have 50%-75% preferred of non-hazardous construction waste and debris be recycled. With sustainable building standards and making sure energy saving is maximized with new construction projects at UIC, it is good to know that there are efforts around the University that will inspire change and growth to the benefits of being a green campus.


Isabelle Carmona

Interning at the Office for Capital Programs

Working with AMERESCO on the ESCO project at UIC has really made me see the benefit of going green and also the challenges the “going green movement” is facing today. The ESCO project will provide the University with a comprehensive set of energy efficiency, renewable energy and distributed generation measures and is accompanied with guarantees that the energy and operational savings produced by the project will be sufficient to finance the full cost of the project. This is done by replacing the cooling and heating system in some of UIC’s major buildings and also by replacing or retrofitting aging equipment. The project is estimated to cost the University about $63,692,117. This is a very expensive project but the savings and environmental impact it will have is well worth it. The project is expected to save the University more than $1.8 million in avoided energy costs annually for the 20-year term, and includes energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades to UIC’s Science and Engineering Laboratories Complex, consisting of four teaching and research laboratory buildings and a supporting office building, totaling more than 1.2 million square feet. The project supports UIC’s Climate Action Plan and will help the University meet their goal of 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050.

One of the challenges the green movement is facing right now is money. Going green is not cheap and this usually does not make it appealable to most people. The green movement is as psychological as they come. An example of this will be buying a hybrid or an electric vehicle. These two vehicles cost a lot more than normal vehicles but the savings down the road is well worth it. One thing we have to start doing now as a society is to stop thinking about the here and now and start thinking about the future. If we as a society starts thinking about the money a hybrid car or an electric car will save us in the future, I can promise you that every single one of us will own one and in turn reducing our carbon foot prints on the planet.

Basit Yakubu

Establishing a Food Recovery Network

Jacob Obal - Food recovery networkEach day, pounds of edible food are disposed of from the cafeterias on campus. Whatever is not eaten at the end of the day is bagged and tossed into the trash where it will later be taken to a landfill or incinerator. Both of these options result in the emission of Greenhouse gasses, contributing to global climate change and overall Earth pollution. As an intern for the UIC Dining Services, my major focus was to help establish a Food Recovery Network: a system in which the leftover food on campus is not thrown to waste, but instead donated to those who need it most. Therefore, with an established Food Recovery Network Chapter on the UIC campus, we can ultimately see the complete eradication of wasted food in the cafeterias.

The UIC Food Recovery Network is currently in full swing, all thanks to our dedicated team and the persistence in finding partner organizations. On average we have collected about a hundred pounds of freshly frozen food per week. Our partner organization is called La Casa Norte. Last year, they distributed 20,000+ pounds of donated food. We are ecstatic to be working with such a wonderful organization.

As part of our sustainability efforts, we have been in touch with the UIC College of Cycling who are working with us to make our food delivery methods more environmentally friendly. Instead of having our food picked up by car, we are in the process of developing a method that involves the delivery of food by specially designed bicycles equipped with large baskets. These bikes are funded by the Food Recovery Network and will be a fun, healthy alternative for the volunteers to deliver food.

Jacob Obal



In the month of April, many groups and companies host events to capture some of that eco-friendly Earth Day buzz.  But an innovative group in Chicago is making huge strides year-round, reaching millions of citizens with engaging and impact-reducing sustainability programs.

From the airports to the convention center to stadiums, special events and more, a growing number of Chicago’s largest entities have implemented successful Green initiatives, targeting waste and energy use reduction, public education and beyond. The Chicago Sustainability Task Force (CSTF) was reborn in 2014 to inspire collaboration amongst these large-scale facilities and event organizations. With help from sustainability leaders and government agencies providing resources and guidance in developing programs and measuring impact, millions of people are reached and thousands of tons of material are put to better use. This organization provides a forum for operators to speak honestly about their challenges, swap scaleable solutions, and tour other members’ facilities.

On-Going Green Initiatives and Successes Include:

  • Chicago Public Schools’ recycling program is being enhanced again, as they pilot organics recycling (a.k.a. food scrap composting) at five (5) district schools.
  • The Chicago Department of Aviation is keenly focused on environmental initiatives. They developed the nation’s first Green Concessions Policy, hosts the industry-leading Airports Going Green conference, and is building a 10,000 square foot green roof.
  • Its many advancements in sustainability have earned McCormick Place LEED certification, ASTM Standard-Level One certification, an Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award and most recently, the US-EPA Food Recovery Challenge Award.
  • The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle, introduced its 40,000 participants and thousands of spectators to a four-stream waste program – diverting organics, recyclables, and plant-based beer cups from landfill – with a strong educational message and outreach program.
  • Grains used to brew beer on-site at Hofbrauhaus at MB Financial Park in Rosemont are collected and fed to happy cows at Robinson farms… over 52 tons per year!
  • UIC’s Office of Sustainability has a dual role of educating the 27,000 students and improving the initiatives on the campus.  Their office is hosting 40 Eco-Events for Earth Month this year, and boasts many sustainability successes, including recycling over 800 tons of office paper per year.
  • Allstate Arena, a sports and entertainment arena with over 1.5 million attendees per year, won the US EPA’s Gold Achievement Award for Public Venue Recycling and Food Recovery Challenge Award for their multi-faceted and impactful “Green For a Reason” program.

Greater details, stats and hi-res photos are available for these examples and more.

The Chicago Sustainability Task Force is a community partner of the Green Sports Alliance Summit, being held in June at McCormick Place, at which the CSTF will host a Chicago Leaders Lunch – to bring a wider audience in step with the direction of Chicago’s sustainability programs.  With a more unified approach to sustainability, the implementation will become more streamlined and more citizens of and visitors to Chicago will expect a higher level of environmental responsibility.

To learn more:

Chicago Sustainability Task Force (CSTF) Is a group of large facility operators, event organizers, sustainability experts and other stakeholders taking actions to improve the environmental efficiency of their operations, share and promote best practices and policies, influence and strengthen local ‘sustainability’ infrastructure, and develop consistent programs and messaging city-wide. The growing list of members includes: Chicago Department of Aviation, Chicago Public Schools, Soldier Field, SAVOR…at McCormick Place, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, US-EPA, United Airlines, Goose Island Beer Company, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago Event Management/Bank of America Chicago Marathon, NatureWorks and Bright Beat.




For more information, contact Bright Beat:

Stephanie Katsaros