Monthly archives: June, 2016

Campus LEED Certification Internship

For the past few months    have been working for the Office of Sustainability at UIC as a LEED standards intern. The main priority of my position is to work hand-in-hand with the office in achieving LEED certification of the College Of Medicine Building. In wake of the progress in which we have covered most of the certification, we have shifted priority of the project towards public education.

A major factor which hinders our society from moving towards sustainable lifestyle is that many are unaware of the repercussions of their actions, or the benefits that may be brought forth through environmentally conscious design. Something that we take for granted, because it is so readily available through commercial practices, is our energy expenditure. As a University, over 80% of our carbon emissions (whether it be natural gas or electrically based) comes from the energy use of buildings.

A larger part of UIC’s Climate action plan is focused on moving towards net zero emissions. Which if we consider the fact that almost all of our emissions come from the buildings we regularly occupy over the span of this massive campus, then supporting the construction of sustainable systems should be the top priority. It is because of this that education is quite possibly the most important part of my job. Educating the public is the greatest way to gain support from the student as well as surrounding communities, giving us the momentum we need to move forward.

By: Corey HeinleinCorey


Let’s Be Positive and Recycle Our Batteries!


Streamlining recycling at UIC

Never at any point in history has sustainability been so important, and it only becomes more so with every passing day. One of the core components of sustainability not only on our campus but in the world is dealing with waste production. And recycling remains the primary combatant against it. With my internship I am focusing on preventing recyclable waste that is not traditionally recycled from reaching landfills: dead alkaline batteries and dead pens/markers.

Though the generation of both these materials is small compared to other waste streams such as paper, bottles, and cans, the need to recycle them is no less important. It is this idea of our attempt to recycle all recyclable streams of waste that demonstrates our commitment to our Climate Action Plan. The “Dead Supplies Society” Recycling Program allows plastics from the pens and markers and alkaline and other metals from the batteries to be used again in other materials, a fundamental concept in sustainability.

The other side of my internship includes the marketing aspect: spreading of awareness of the ability, and the need, to recycle pens and batteries. This demands the open communication with all those involved with the initiative, from zone managers and the building service workers to the faculty and staff generating waste. The second commitment in the UIC CAP is to become a “Zero Waste Campus,” referring to reaching a landfill diversion rate of 90%. I have learned that any progress toward that can only be achieved through a change, not in university policy, but in the habits and lifestyles of the individual members of the university community.

By: Alan Fortune

Sorry! Please use next bathroom


‘Repurposed’ Sandwich Board Sign

Yes it‘s exactly what it sounds like. We have kept a lot of people from entering the restroom for the last couple of days. The signboard with the words ‘Caution: Interns at work’ has been my buddy for the last two weeks. It has almost toured the whole university campus with me, just resting in my bag and at times getting down when we reach our destination: The Restroom. Placed right outside the door, it did a good job annoying the public. But before you put all the blame on it, let me tell you it has a very appealing look. It could catch anybody’s eyes with its beautiful decoration.

My internship position is Water assessment. I along with a co-intern, assess the water usage in the campus. The water audit of the campus is very essential if you want a sustainable environment. I took this opportunity to help my university become a zero wastage green campus. So our work all began with making a list of restrooms that had faulty faucets or toilets or urinals. By the word faulty I don’t say that they are dysfunctional. Rather, the ones whose measured flow rate of water deviates largely from their listed values are faulty. After we completed our list, we conveyed its significance to the respective building managers, who then gave us permission to access the bathrooms. It didn’t come easy. We had to bug them with emails and phone calls, just to get our tasks done.

How do we audit?  It’s very simple! We carry a plastic bag marked with different volume levels. We put it beneath the faucet and run water for five seconds, and then we compare the results. For urinals and toilets, we calculate the flush running time. Nobody could imagine how I feel when I bend my head down into the toilet to look for the listed value. Though it isn’t a very fun job, I enjoy working with my chatty co-intern and friend, who makes our work very engaging. We cooperate with each other fully and give our best to make this internship a success!

by: Anubandha Anand

UIC Medicinal Plants Garden – The Power of Nature!

The Atkins Medicinal Herb Garden at UIC

The Atkins Medicinal Herb Garden at UIC

As an intern with the dynamic trio of the Office of Sustainability, The College of Pharmacy, and the Field Museum of Natural History, my primary duty in the spring consists of mainly preliminary research and acclimation to the field of botany with hands on activities in the Field Museum herbarium and the medicinal plants garden. In particular, my research focused on anti-diabetic properties of plants. With our large synthetic knowledge in chemistry and medicine today, natural medicine tends to be the underdog. What a lot of us fail to realize however, is that many of our amazing modern drugs and chemicals are based on knowledge gained from studying natural products. Medicine and healthcare are booming industries that factor into global health impacts, which are major drivers of holistic sustainability. By undertaking this research, I am not only learning some advanced biology and basic botany, but also contributing to recognition of ethnobotany and environmental preservation as it pertains to medicinal species. One of the coolest things I get to do in my internship is in fact take part in the handling and identification of plants specimens and explore the integrative research center at the Field Museum. It’s an amazing experience! This internship will make UIC even more sustainable by 1) raising awareness through education and literally making our campus a little greener and 2) sequestering by introducing new promising and at risk plant species of medicinal importance into the College of Pharmacy’s Atkins Garden.

By: Kenneth Booker

Thinking, Planting, Eating Green: Adventures in Dining Services


DIY Wall-mounted Vertical Garden

Interning for Dining Services has been a huge change and challenge for me! Before this I had no experience in any kind of business or professional environment. I’ve had to learn so much that I didn’t expect beyond the job and course description: How to be heard in meetings, how to get the answers I need from flighty email respondents, navigating multiple levels of bureaucracies. I can’t wait for the end result and we’re taking important steps every week.

Vertical gardens are a trendy, innovative, and beautiful solution to so many problems at once. Adding greenery, especially useful greenery like cilantro, mint, and basil, falls directly in line with the UIC Climate Action Plan as well as the guiding principles of UIC’s Dining Services. Plants are a major tool in carbon sequestration and in some cases can improve local air quality! I’ll also be setting up room for future work. There are two more dining halls whose managers are excited about the possibility of adding gardens, and now there is room for starting and implementing an in-house composting system.

Recently, we settled on the final design of the garden: a series of mounted shelving with ordinary planters on top. This allows for interchangeability, increases ease of care, and keeps costs as low as possible.  I can’t wait to share the end result of this work with the rest of the campus !

By: Jessica Parrish


Sustainability Begins with Us!


Intern-designed Center for Literacy Newsletter

Sustainability knows no face. Anyone is able to contribute to making our world a more sustainable place. Take me for example; I am just an Asian American guy, C – student, and all-in-all an average person. How did I, of all people, get to make a blog about sustainability? Well it really just starts by taking that first step into becoming more eco-friendly and being more aware of the consequences of your actions. I ended up with an internship that is directly related to sustainability and began making a difference on UIC campus.

When you think of sustainability, money and the environment usually comes to mind first. We overlook the importance of social sustainability. Social sustainability focuses on communication and my internship is mostly focused on that specific kind of sustainability. I created a reusable template for a monthly newsletter. The newsletter’s purpose is to create a stronger purpose within the staff and create awareness of each other and their accomplishments. A second project that I will be tackling is to lower the usage of the copy machines. This will result in less electricity, ink, and paper that is used. This will significantly affect the Center for Literacy and UIC campus’s plan to be more sustainable .

By: Brandon Wong


The endless, but sustainable road to Sustainability

There are many things an individual can do to be sustainable, but what about larger systems, like a university? My internship at the Office of Sustainability aims to answer this question. I am looking at the sustainability standards  that UIC should aim to achieve. Through researching other schools I have found that sustainability on such a large scale is difficult to understand and tackle. There are many standards out there, so how do you determine the best one? How do you ensure the standard is achievable and worth it? For example, is 50% or 60% recycled content for all construction materials more appropriate? All these questions and confusions have been brought up in the weekly internship seminars. We’ve talked about how sustainability is a wicked problem, for it doesn’t have one right answer. It’s a complex system that relates politics, the environment, economics, culture, and people. Throughout my internship I am beginning to understand how important this intermingling is. Nothing is independent of each other, for everything feeds into other things. For example, water conservation isn’t just about water, it’s also about building design, construction, grounds, and so much more. With that being said, my internship is moving along. I am becoming more familiar with the terminology and established a table of contents along with a PowerPoint for the standards. Overall, this internship and sustainability is all one big lesson on “the more you know, the more you question”.

By: Kathy Machaj


Helping to Create a Sustainable Campus Through Bicycling



Bicycles Locked to Inverted U-Racks at GLD Buildings Courtyard

The UIC community has an increasing number of bicyclist commuters. It is a healthy, efficient and environmentally friendly way to get around the campus and the city. However, not nearly enough people are biking as there could be. One of UIC’s sustainability goals in their Climate Action Plan is to reduce CO2 emissions and create a greener campus. Encouraging more bike ridership is a great way to work towards that goal. So, what hinders more people from bicycling? The main reasons are safety concerns, poor bike parking and infrastructure and a lack of knowledge about bicycling in the city. That is why I am addressing all of these issues in my internship. I have helped draft policies that protect pedestrians and cyclists’ safety on campus, improve the bicycle infrastructure on campus, such as adding protected bicycle parking on campus to prevent theft and I am beginning a project that maps safe routes to campus for students, faculty and staff that live off campus in Chicago neighborhoods. My internship is very intertwined. When helping draft policies I have to consider many factors and I have to consider and research other policy that is already in place on campus, in the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. I am not just looking to solve one issue, I am making sure that the issue I am trying to solve is in line with other goals of the university and that it makes the most sense to benefit everyone. I am most excited about learning how much research and communication with stakeholders and outside sources is involved in creating new policies or practices. I think it’s a great learning opportunity for me to continue my career in the field of urban planning. The more people that feel confident biking will ultimately end up biking more and encourage more people to do so, at least that is the hope.

By: Olivia Zwierski-Moran

Sustainable New Medical Technologies


The Hybrid operating room –

The main objective of my internship is to research and write a review paper on energy technology behavior. My focus is to analyze the contribution and effect of innovation in medical technologies and behavior of medical community and patients, highlighting the use of such technologies in developed and developing countries. Although this paper is typically on a global perspective, I can streamline it in a campus wide perspective. Located in a developed country with its hospital housing highly advanced and sophisticated equipment, UIC hospitals are among the nation’s hospitals with energy-intensive facilities. Therefore, the energy cost of UIC hospital must be extremely high; in order to reduce such cost it is practical to know the driver of this energy cost. Thus, having new and more advanced medical technology can increase the efficacy of today’s hospital system and optimize the conservation and delivery of power.

In 2009, the UIC Climate Action Plan was adopted with objectives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050. Therefore, if hospitals are equipped with sustainable new technology, this will go along with the UIC climate plan which is to be energy efficient by 2050.  Hence, there will be a difference in the energy usage, patients, staffs and the community surrounding the hospital will have access to healthier lifestyle and the urban heat effect will also decreased.

This internship has been a learning process. It is fascinating because I am gaining more knowledge on the medical field since it goes along with my future goal of becoming a doctor. I have opportunities to attend events that are related to my field and to the field of energy and see how both works together. This internship allows me to be more proactive and to think globally .

By: Paule Nguendang


SiNode Systems Sustainability Internship

HerefordMy role in this internship is to help SiNode increase the quality of their silicon graphene product for the next generation of lithium ion batteries, while at the same time improving the efficiency of some of their processes. The most insightful part of my internship so far has been being exposed to not only a tech startup, but also learning how scientists and engineers of multiple disciplines can collaborate to achieve a solution that can mitigate some of the world’s energy storage problems.

The main sustainability focus behind my project is renewable and energy storage systems. As we continue to grow as a species, we become large consumers of energy. Inefficient energy sources, not only affect our economy, but our environment as well. I’ve learned, especially thanks to the sustainability seminars, that we cannot maintain our current energy practices long term, and SiNode has the potential to be a huge part of the solution.

The research and product that SiNode Systems is producing has caught the interest of many professors at UIC. This results in the expansion of the some of the renewable energy and energy storage research that is going on at UIC. This can possibly result with UIC being known as not only an original adopter of next generation energy storage devices, but as well as a pioneer in its future technologies!