Now There Is an ‘I’ in Green, Art, and Krannert

Architecture and engineering students Nahid Akarm and Hursh Hazari teamed up to create the great Block-I sculpture installed for Earth Week in the lobby at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Architecture and engineering students Nahid Akarm (right) and Hursh Hazari teamed up to create the great Block-I sculpture installed for Earth Week in the lobby at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

“Are you responsible for this?” asked a man hurrying by and pointing to a massive Block-I sculpture in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts lobby. “Great job!”


Hursh Hazari and Nahid Akarm, first-time artists of monumental found object sculpture, beamed and waved in acknowledgement.


The two are responsible for the Block-I shaped from campus’ own early spring supply of empty beverage bottles. The sculpture is a Earth Week gift of ISTC and the Student Sustainability Committee as an impossible-to-miss reminder of the importance of recycling or repurposing the mountains of waste we produce.


Nahid is in the first year of a master’s of architecture program. His designs for buildings are already built in his native Bangladesh. After completing his undergraduate training at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology he worked at an architectural firm for four years.


Hursh studied polymer science as an undergrad at Dehli Technological University in New Dehli, but his interests turned to renewable solar and wind energy, so he enrolled at the U of I to study power and energy systems. He plans to promote sustainable energy use in India, where unreliable power grids make grass roots wind and solar installations very popular.


ARTIST! ARTIST! - Hursh Hazari (left) is an engineering graduate student from India. Nahid Akarm is a graduate student in architecture from Bangladesh.

ARTIST! ARTIST! – Hursh Hazari (left) is an engineering graduate student from India. Nahid Akarm is a graduate student in architecture from Bangladesh.

Both spotted the job as sculptors on campus’ virtual job board and saw in it work that advanced their professional interests. They needed all of the 20 oz. beverage bottles they could sort at the campus Waste Transfer Station for their design. They were washed and disinfected at ISTC and, over the course of three weeks, they were fitted into their new educational configuration.


ISTC’s Zero Waste Illinois program is noting the metrics from the sculpture project as part of their ongoing campus building waste characterization project here at the U of I. ISTC is helping the University meet its Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) goals with waste audits of individual campus buildings – a big step toward becoming a zero waste campus.  


The artwork is on display at Krannert through Saturday, April 23. More on the sculpture.


Proper Disposal of Unwanted Drugs Getting Easier

Got Drugs?



dropboxes for unwanted drugs

Handy, secure dropboxes at Champaign, Urbana and U of I police stations make disposing of unwanted drugs easy.


Saturday April 30 is National Prescription Take-Back Day in the U.S.A. The Drug Enforcement Administration has organized a network of local law enforcement agencies to accept unwanted or expired human or veterinary drugs and to educate the public about the need to properly dispose of these medications.


Check DEA’s handy collection site locator  if you want to drop off your drugs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.


If you live in the Champaign-Urbana area you can use secure dropboxes ANYTIME in the lobbies of the following police departments:


Champaign: 82 E University Ave.


Urbana: 400 S Vine St.


University of Illinois: 1110 W Springfield Ave, Urbana.


Of course the DEA is interested in halting abuse of unused drugs which are often misappropriated from the home medicine cabinets. But a DEA news release makes the alarming understatement that “Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.” To keep unused medications out of the reach of children and pets and also to prevent abuse by others taking the medications, all unused medications should be taken to drop box collection sites.  You should keep the medications in their original containers and black out your name and address if on the label before dropping them off.


Information on ISTC’s recent research on the emerging problem is available online. A lot more about proper handling and disposal of drugs and personal care products is provided by IL-IN Sea Grant.


ISTC, IL-IN Sea Grant, and the U of I Extension are now working together to improve pharmaceutical give-back locations state-wide. Scientific studies are revealing the bio-active compounds are having observable consequences when they get into the aquatic environment.

State Electronics Challenge Recognizes the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) as a 2016 Gold Winner

[Champaign, Illinois April 4, 2016]
The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) today received a Gold award for its achievements in the State Electronics Challenge; a comprehensive nationwide environmental sustainability initiative that currently reaches more than 220,000 employees in 47 states. ISTC was recognized for its accomplishments in green procurement, energy and paper conservation, and responsible recycling of electronic office equipment in 2015.


“ISTC’s program is a truly outstanding example of a commitment to environmental leadership,” commented Lynn Rubinstein, State Electronics Challenge Program Manager. “This is the second year in a row that the program has earned a Gold Award.” She added that “ISTC is one of only 12 organizations nationally being recognized this year and the only one in Illinois.”


“We’re really pleased to have received recognition again. Participating in the State Electronics Challenge has provided a great framework for our organization to ensure that we’re making better choices in purchasing as well as continuing efforts to limit impacts in the use and end-of-life management phases,” said Joy Scrogum, Emerging Technologies Resource Specialist and coordinator of ISTC’s Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI).


As a result of these environmental initiatives, in 2015 ISTC saved enough energy to power 6 households per year, avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 8 cars from the road per year, as well as avoiding the generation of more than 50 pounds of hazardous waste – equivalent to the weight of a refrigerator.


ISTC has committed to purchasing computer and imaging equipment that is qualified by the Electronic Procurement Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT®) standard.  EPEAT is an internationally recognized system that identifies office equipment that meets specified environmental performance criteria.  It also uses power management and requires double-sided printing to decrease energy and paper usage, and ensures that at the end-of-life, equipment is recycled by a third-party certified electronics recycler – Secure Recycling Services & Secure Processors.


“ISTC was the first Illinois organization to participate in the State Electronics Challenge, joining back in 2011. We only began applying for recognition in recent years, after we took the time to write a specific policy that captured what we were already doing to make our electronics-related operations more sustainable, as well as setting forth purchasing standards. The written policy will help us stay on target and continuously improve in the coming years, through revisions as our goals change. ISTC provides technical assistance to organizations and businesses throughout the state, and we’ve been able to point clients and other University of Illinois departments to the SEC checklist and resources as a way of helping them tackle sustainable electronics issues in simple, manageable ways,” Ms. Scrogum stated.


The State Electronics Challenge offers its participants annual opportunities to document their achievements and receive recognition for those accomplishments.  In 2015, the reported actions of 31 participants in green purchasing of electronic office equipment, power management, and responsible recycling resulted in a total of more than 1,250 tons of electronics being recycled, which, along with power management and green procurement:


  • Prevented the release of almost 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from 8,612 passenger cars.
  • Saved enough energy to supply 7,845 homes per year
  • Avoided the disposal of hazardous waste equivalent to the weight of 2,120 refrigerators
  • Avoided the disposal of solid waste – garbage – equivalent to the amount generated by 388 households/year.


A full list of winners and their environmental accomplishments can be found on the State Electronics Challenge website (


“The State Electronics Challenge provides state, tribal, regional and local agencies, as well as schools, colleges and universities and non-profit organizations with a great opportunity to integrate concepts of sustainability and waste reduction into their operations,” added Ms. Rubinstein.  “It’s inspiring to see programs such as the one developed and implement by the ISTC to ensure that the highest environmental practices are met through the lifecycle of office equipment.“


The State Electronics Challenge awards were made possible through donations from Samsung, Panasonic, and the R2/RIOS Program.


About ISTC

ISTC is a division of the Prairie Research Institute on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its mission is to encourage and assist citizens, businesses, and government agencies to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and reduce waste to protect human health and the environment of Illinois and beyond. It promotes more sustainable technologies, processes, and practices through an integrated program of research, demonstration projects, technical assistance, and outreach. Learn more at


About the State Electronics Challenge

The State Electronics Challenge assists state, regional, tribal, and local governments to reduce the environmental impact of their office equipment.  It annually recognizes the accomplishments of Partner organizations. The Challenge is administered by the Northeast Recycling Council ( Currently, 157 state, tribal, regional, colleges, schools, universities, and local government agencies, and non-profit organizations, representing more than 212,600 employees, have joined the SEC as Partners.  For more information on the SEC, including a list of current Partner organizations, visit



Deadline Extended: Apply for the 2016 EPEAT Purchaser Awards by April 27th


The deEPEAT_logoadline has been extended until April 27th to submit applications for the EPEAT Purchaser Awards. The awards recognize excellence in green procurement of electronics. EPEAT Purchasers will earn a star for each product category for which they have a written policy in place that requires the purchase of EPEAT registered electronics.


The EPEAT Purchaser Awards are open to all organizations that purchase EPEAT-registered products and meet the following requirements:


  1. Agree to have your organization as an EPEAT Purchaser. EPEAT Purchasers agree to share their specific EPEAT vendor contract language and to be listed on the EPEAT website. By submitting the EPEAT Purchaser Award Application, you agree to have your organization listed as an EPEAT Purchaser.
  2. Must have an organizational purchasing policy in place for environmentally preferable procurement of electronics (see model policy language)
  3. Must set specifications in contracts with vendors requiring that all electronic products in a specific category (PC/Displays, Imaging Equipment, and Televisions) achieve Bronze registration or higher in the EPEAT system in the country/countries of purchase (see model contract language)
  4. Must report annual purchase volume  of EPEAT registered products


Winners will be honored on Monday, May 23, during a ceremony in Washington DC. The Awards ceremony will be co-located with the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) Summit at the Kellogg Conference Center and will take place immediately following the SPLC Pre-Summit Courses. All EPEAT Purchaser Award winners are invited to attend a brief reception before the ceremony, and then to participate in the ceremony itself.


For more information, and to apply, visit the EPEAT web site.

Illini Gadget Garage Hosts Pop-up Clinics

The Illini Gadget Garage is a collaborative repair program for student and staff owned electronic devices, funded by the UI Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), and administered by the Sustainable Electronics Initiative at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the UI School of Art and Design, and the UI Graduate School of Library and Information Science. In a previous post, we discussed the fact that renovations are necessary to bring the Gadget Garage’s planned permanent home into ADA compliance. We’re still working with “test pilot” clients, who don’t require ADA accommodations, at the permanent location (INHS Storage Building 3). In case you haven’t check the Gadget Garage Facebook page or web page recently, Spring 2016 hours are Thursdays from 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM and Fridays from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.


In the meantime, to help ensure that we’re serving all members of our campus community, we’re hosting “pop-up” clinics at various locations across campus. Gadget Garage staff have established a partnership with the residence hall libraries and last week (on March 30 & 31) the first pop-up clinics were held at the PAR and Allen Hall residence hall libraries. Those two residence hall libraries are once again hosting pop-up repair clinics on Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7th, respectively. Hours for the PAR clinic (Wed.) are 6-8 PM; Allen Hall clinics are 7-9 PM. Stop by for assistance with troubleshooting, diagnosing issues, and minor repair. We’re hoping to have clinics in these two residence hall libraries fairly regularly (not necessarily weekly); ask at the libraries for more information, or monitor the Gadget Garage Facebook page for announcements.


In the meantime, if your campus organization or department is interested in hosting a pop-up clinic, please fill out our form to indicate your interest and provide a bit of basic information. Gadget Garage staff will then follow-up with you for scheduling.


If you’re planning to either attend a pop-up clinic or to stop by the permanent location during open hours, consider filling out our Diagnostic Form to provide information on the device and problem you’re wanting to address. This will give Gadget Garage volunteers some information to help them do a bit of research before you come so they’re better prepared to assist you and use your time efficiently.


If you have other general questions, or would like to become involved with the project as a volunteer, send an email to You don’t have to be a tinkerer or technologically inclined to assist in the collaborative repair process, plus there are other project tasks to which your skills could be applied (e.g. social media, marketing, recruitment of volunteers, scheduling clinics, writing iFixit repair guides, creating resource guides for common questions/problems, etc.). Plus, although this is primarily a student project, staff and faculty who enjoy repair are also welcome to volunteer and become part of the “fixer” community here on campus! Everyone has their own expertise and strengths, and we’ll all learn from each other as we come together to keep devices in service for as long as possible.


Tentative Illini Gadget Garage identifying mark

Adding Metrics to your Governor’s Award Application

graphs and charts with a magnifying glass over the charts to look at metrics and data closerEven though metrics are not required for your Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award application, it is still a very good idea to add them to your application. By adding metrics to your application, it allows for application evaluators to truly see the quantitative or qualitative impact that your organization, program or technology have achieved.


Without an understanding of resource use before starting a project, how can you truly understand its impact on your bottom line and resource reduction? A major key to understanding project or program impact is to create a baseline for your project, program or initiative. By creating a baseline, you are creating a road map to tracking the success of an initiative and seeing what resource use looks like before implementing a new program, technology, initiative, or strategy. This is important to tracking the success of your initiatives and can even help when asking for more money or resources for future environmental projects or initiatives.


There are many different types of tools and calculators that can be used to help create an annual baseline, such as ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (tracks energy and water). However, entering use data in a simple Excel spreadsheet can also yield a baseline. Important resources to baseline in your organization or business are energy and water use, waste, chemical use, and purchasing. If you have a fleet, fuel use might also be a good metric to track.


Before you start your project, choose an evaluation timeline – how long are you going to track metrics to see if your project was successful? What information would you need to collect? Remember to keep it simple and hone in on exactly what few metrics will show reduction in resource use. Throughout the duration of the project, continue to track those metrics, even after the initiative or project has been implemented. Then, take time to analyze the data and see if a change has been made in the resources used.


Metrics don’t always need to be quantitative – especially if you are tracking impact of outreach or effect of a program on a particular group of people. Data such as number of people reached with information, or number of people participating in the program can be valuable as well. If you’re working with a group of people, get testimonials on impact of the program in their organization or everyday life. Ask whether the initiative, project or program will or has already affected their future success, or if connections outside of the project, program or initiative were made that otherwise would not have occurred outside of the initiative or project.


The Sample Application section of the website can give you an idea of how to enter in data and metrics into the spreadsheet and talk to your team about what per-unit measures you might use in your application. If you have further questions,


Remember, applications are due May 20. Start your application now!

2016 Annual Waste Conference

ISTC will be co-sponsoring the 2016 Annual Waste Conference: Changing Landscape of Waste Management in conjunction with the Air and Waste Management Association Lake Michigan States Section (A&WMA-LMSS).


The conference will be held on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, from 8 AM to 5 PM at the Hilton-Lisle/Naperville. Attendees will learn of the latest information and solutions concerning waste management issues, including regulatory updates from Region 5 States.


A&WMA-LMSS’s conference is designed for everyone in the waste industry. Prominent leaders from government, industry, law, and consulting will provide attendees with information and insights on a wide range of waste topics. There will also be opportunities to network and meet with other professionals who share similar interests.


To register for the conference and access the agenda, visit A&WMA-LMSS’s website.


For questions about the conference, please contact:


Robin Pelsis, LM-A&WMA

11 Pleasant Hill Blvd.

Palatine, IL 60067

Phone:  (847) 202-0418

Fax:  (847) 202-0427


Chicago Wants You for a Greener NFL Draft Town


NFL Draft volunteers

Volunteer by Saturday, April 9 if you want to help make the NFL Draft in Chicago an environmentally friendly event.


The NFL Draft (April 28-30) is coming back to Chicago this year and the Chicago Sports Commission is looking for qualified volunteers to support the Green Team! The Green Team will be responsible for ensuring fans are recycling and composting the proper materials so that we are ultimately putting together an extremely environmentally conscious event.


The host city is looking for volunteers to keep the big event green! The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is already helping the team. Our Zero Waste Program experts will be assisting with waste reduction strategies in Draft Town which includes Grant Park and Congress Plaza.


Please apply HERE by Saturday, April 9 if you are interested in volunteering. The Sports Commission will communicate with all accepted volunteers on how to register for specific shifts by Monday, March 11th. Volunteers will be expected to attend an Orientation/Training session on Monday, April 25th with more details to be provided after accepted volunteers have officially registered for shifts.


Volunteers should love customer service and supporting fans’ needs, they should also love football! Please forward this message to anyone you know who might also be interested. The Sports Commission is looking forward to hearing from you!


Please email with any questions!

The Road to a Great IL Governor’s Sustainability Award Application

ground plants like grass and ivery in the shape of a winding path and an image of the gov. sustainability awards plackIf your organization has done a lot in the name of sustainability – from projects that save money and resources to initiatives that strengthen the people and communities you work for – what are you waiting for? The Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award provides a great opportunity for you to pull all of your sustainability work together into a single document: Your award application!


Because sustainability encompasses the triple bottom line – People, Planet, Profit – it can be tough to wrap one’s brain around all that should be included in your application. Our Apply for the Award page and FAQ’s will help you in that process, but we know that’s a lot to read! Here are three tips to help you cut to the chase, and get started on your application (due May 20). Continue reading

Prairie Research Institute’s Large-Scale Watersheds Initiative Recognized Today at White House Water Summit

PRI'a Large-Scale Watershed Initiative was highlighted as part of the White House Water Summit.

PRI’s Large-Scale Watershed Initiative was highlighted as part of the White House Water Summit.




Initiative Aims to Calculate ‘Value’ of Entire Illinois River Watersheds

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The White House Water Summit today highlighted the Resilient Watersheds Initiative of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois in its announcement of new measurable steps being taken across the country to address key water issues.


The White House Water Summit Fact Sheet and the Commitments to Action on Building a Sustainable Water Future report are both available online.


The Resilient Watersheds Initiative seeks to provide a science-based and data-driven approach to promoting resilient, sustainable Illinois watersheds. The interdisciplinary approach includes expertise from the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, other departments across the University, as well as researchers at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center in Alton, Ill.


The initiative will organize available data into a multi-dimensional model of the tangible ecosystem benefits watersheds provide (e.g., water storage and filtration, groundwater recharge, biodiversity) in addition to the value they represent for food, drinking water, swimming, fishing, boating, and tourism, etc.


The concept is called Value-based Landscape Design, which works to create tools that evaluate the potential of every acre of habitat. PRI is already engaged in landscape design projects related to the Lower Fox River and Green Bay ecosystems in Wisconsin, as well as Great Lakes coastal wetlands. This latter project was recognized by the White House in April, 2015 as one of the first four Resilient Lands and Waters Initiatives.


The Resilient Watersheds Initiative has set an ambitious goal of building integrated models of the entire Illinois River watershed. Areas suggested as starting points, due to the vast amount of information already available, include the Spoon River and Kankakee River watersheds.


PRI has for decades conducted extensive studies of Illinois’ fisheries, water quality, water supply, floodplains, wildlife habitat, and invasive species, just to name a few, through research by four of its divisions—the Ill. Natural History Survey, Ill. State Geological Survey, Ill. State Water Survey, and Ill. Sustainable Technology Center. The Watersheds Initiative builds on and integrates these efforts.


“The complexity of natural ecosystems, human impacts on them, and the value they represent to us, transcends boundaries of geography, political borders, and science disciplines,” said Brian Anderson, senior deputy executive director of PRI.


“Illinois watersheds are predominantly working landscapes,” added Laura Kammin, outreach program leader at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. “A framework that underscores the broad spectrum of values and the tangible benefits watersheds provide, and quantifies how those benefits change with changes in land-uses and practices, will help us make the best informed decisions for future planning.”


A preliminary report “The Resilient Watersheds Initiative: A Value-based Landscape Design Approach to Promote Watershed Resiliency though Collaboration” was drafted in fall 2015 to set the stage for planning and implementation of the initiative in spring 2016. The organization for the initiative is shown in Figure 1 of that document. Please contact Laura Kammin, or Brian Anderson, for additional information.


The White House Summit coincided with World Water Day.