Monthly archives: April, 2016

Tree Planting Provides $121 in Annual Benefits to UIC

Over a dozen students came out to UIC’s west campus on a rainy April Fool’s Day morning, made possible by funding from and the Arbor Day Foundation.  A Northern Hackberry and a Tulip Tree were selected because of their ability to thrive in an urban environment. Both of the trees measured about 3 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) and are expected to provide $64 in benefits every year. If the trees are adequately cared for, which they will be since UIC is an award winning Tree Campus USA member, they will provide at least $121 in benefits every year!

The Northern Hackberry, (C. occidentalis) which is a Chicago native and is known to be a thriving urban tree, is a low maintenance tree surviving industrial conditions and harsh winters. The Northern Hackberry is also a suitable tree for nesting sites for birds. The Northern Hackberry that was placed on UIC’s campus is roughly 40 feet tall and is known to attract pollinators. It was placed in an area where not many trees are located to increase the biodiversity of the west campus.

The other tree that was placed just around the corner of the UIC co-generation plant was a Tulip tree, (L. tulipifera) which are one of the largest native trees in North America. It can grow up to 60 feet, and grows at a rapid rate. There is only one other Tulip tree at UIC, located on the east side of campus.

The soil where the two trees were located was mostly gravel, so potting soil was added to enrich and enhance the ability of the trees to take root. The two trees are a great addition to the UIC forest of more than 5,300 trees!

The planting of these two trees will provide several important benefits and will help UIC achieve many of our Climate Commitment goals:

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 1: Carbon Neutral Campus.

Trees conserve energy by shading areas which reduces heat that many buildings can absorb, also effectively reducing the heat island effect which is critical in an urban environment. Trees canopies also reduce winds which can help retain heat in buildings. The two trees that were planted at UIC today will each conserve 28 Kilowatt/hours of electricity for cooling and reduce the consumption of oil or natural gas by 13 therms.

One of the most important components of planting trees in urban areas is the amount of carbon they sequester. The two new trees that were planted at UIC today will reduce carbon emission by 103 pounds each. It is important to understand how trees sequester carbon: essentially the roots, trunk, stems, and leaves collect the carbon dioxide and convert it to food for the tree and oxygen for us.

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 3: Net Zero Water Campus.

This Tulip and Hackberry act as storm water reservoirs and can reduce run off. Trees reduce run off by several different means, for example, the leaves, branches, and bark collect the rain reducing run off. The trees root system filters and stores large amount of storm water as well. UIC aims to reduce storm water by 10% by 2020 and 25% by 2030.

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 4: Biodiverse Campus.

Trees selectively absorb pollutants in the air such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide through their leaves effectively improving the air quality on the UIC campus.  These two trees will help increase biodiversity in the campus forestry. A high level of biodiversity is important because a balanced makeup of trees helps lessen susceptibility to insects and diseases that predominantly affect one species or genus. This can help prevent the associated catastrophic loss.  It is the goal of UIC to increase tree biodiversity by planting no more than 5% of the campus tree inventory with trees of the same species and 10% of the same genus. The C. occidentalis and L. tulipifera help us climb higher to that goal.

All data was calculated through the National Tree Benefit Calculator, provided by You can read more about the UIC Climate Commitments here. See what Edder, a former Treetern, had to say about this event.

Be the face of energy conservation at UIC!

Be the face of energy conservation at UIC!

1.  Take a photo of yourself conserving energy at UIC (turning off lights, putting your computer to sleep,
using the revolving doors, etc). Be creative!

2.  Upload your photo to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag


3.  Upload your photo to the Office of Sustainability’s Facebook page at

4. Make sure to also leave a comment how you saved energy

Interns chat about the UIC Climate Commitments on Social Media


Students of the Sustainability Internship Program go to social media to discuss issues of Climate Change and how UIC can reduce carbon emissions, reduce waste and water use, and how to increase efficiencies in energy and water and biodiversity.

Here is what they said about UIC’s new Climate Commitments:

  • Pavilion needs to start thinking about the materials they use because right now, most of the materials aren’t recyclable.  @Hyakkos1
  • This is the story of deforestation by the Latino Cultural Center. Always tell your story, but never do this. #UIC #biodiverse @KathyM
  • Water is an invaluable resource and is oftentimes taken for granted. The Net Zero Water standard is an idea that aims to relieve households from dependence on city water, which will decrease strain on water treatment facilities. By capturing precipitation and treating wastewater produced on site, occupants of a household will close the loop of their water system, thus leading to water independence. This site sets out to document my process and research as I look further into this exciting topic.#UIC #CarbonNeutral #UIC NetZeroWater#UIC #Biodiverse#GoFlames#UICOS @Bluesky_greentree
  • Drops of water makes the whole ocean, small changes lead to a bigger solution. Save water on campus, turn off of the faucets when not in use because every drop counts. Lets not make our basic necessity a luxury. Let’s say no to wastage. #UIC #NetZeroWater @MansiJ
  • Ice caps are melting, water level is rising, ozone layer getting thinner and we are still here sitting on the couch and blaming other people even after holding a stake in it. We as students can at least aim to have an eco-friendly campus. Reducing carbon emissions and footprints by walking or riding a bicycle wherever possible or driving a low-carbon vehicle can help. Even things as small as printing can help reduce the footprint. Identify your present needs so that we don’t have to pay the cost of exploitation. #UIC #CarbonNeutral @MansiJ
  • UIC should start a Composting Club. We throw away a lot of disposable gloves, and latex is 100% biodegradable. #uic #zerowaste @AgataC
  • Subsidizing the expansion of the Heritage garden can help to expand project outreach through public exposure  @See_Hein
  • Would if, at #UIC, we all rode our bikes to campus instead of drive, sit in traffic and pay for parking? We would #savetime #savemoney and work towards being #UIC #CarbonNeutral !!! 

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.

Feelin’ Good about Hackberries – Tree Campus USA

Edder Antunez - Former Tree campus USA "treetern"

Edder Antunez – Former Tree campus USA “treetern”

What can I say about my relationship with Tree Campus USA? Nothing bad really, only positive and great comments. I never cared too much about trees prior to my internship as a Tree Campus USA intern. Walking down any sidewalk, I saw trees as towering photosynthetic organisms that sequestered carbon from the atmosphere and provided aesthetic value to a community. That’s about it. Ask me to identify a tree, and I’d scoff and respond with a clueless “it’s a tree with funny leaves”.

Tree Campus Ceremony-11

Volunteers help the UIC Grounds crew plant a hackberry tree near the UIC Cogeneration facility on Friday, April 1, 2016.

 Fast forward to the present and I would bust out my “Trees of Illinois” identification book and you’d have to wait as I quickly shuffle through the pages to identify the unknown tree. I can definitely say that my relationship with Tree Campus USA has impacted me greatly in a positive way.

This was evident in our recent planting event where I was genuinely stoked about the addition of a tulip and hackberry tree as a means to increase UIC’s biodiversity. Adding more trees besides the dominating Honey locust and elm trees is a great idea and I’m looking towards next year’s tree planting event.

View the full blog post about the day’s event here.

He won six months of free power!

Grand prize winner Mario Lucero and his family proudly hold up energy-saving light bulbs which helped them save more than 1,000 kWh of energy. His daughter Marlene Meraz insisted their cat, Ohltli, partake in the photoshoot since he “helps them save energy by destroying electronics, so they can’t use them anymore.”

Read more at the Citizen’s Utility Board blogsite, Consumer Watchblog.