Noon Extension Seminars Explore Planning for Climate Change

GAMEBOARDThe U of I Extension Webinar series begins tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 13, on the theme of “Planning for Climate Change.”

Don Fullerton, Gutgsell Professor of Finance and Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the U of I, will lead off the series with a discussion of how the “U.S. Clean Power Plan Provides Opportunity for Significant Cuts in Budget Deficits.”

The fall ISTC seminar series is now also viewable on-line at sustainability_seminars.cfm dealing with Sustainability Planning and Climate Change.

Together they promise a valuable resource for groups and organizations of all sizes to engineer society’s pivot toward a carbon-limited future.

Register for tomorrow’s Extension webinar at:
More highlights:
Tuesday, Feb. 17, Edith Makra, The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, “The Greenest Region Compact.”
Tuesday, March 10, Andy Robinson and Todd Rusk, Smart Energy Design Assistance Center, “Case Studies in Municipal Energy Conservation.”
Tuesday, April 14, Eliana Brown and Lisa Merrifield, IL-IN SeaGrant, “Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management.”

ISTC will announce its Spring Semester Sustainability Series shortly.

Previous ISTC sustainability planning webinars are available on-line:

Upcoming Food Waste Training & Toolkit Piloting Opportunities

Several upcoming training opportunities are available for those interested in zero waste, specifically the reduction of waste in food service operations.


The US EPA Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program will present a webinar on January 15, 2015, entitled “Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a Unique Industry Collaboration.” The webinar will take place from 12:00 to 1:30 PM CST. Online registration is available.


As defined by EPA, sustainable materials management (SMM) is “a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire lifecycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By examining how materials are used throughout their lifecycle, an SMM approach seeks to:

  • Use materials in the most productive way with an emphasis on using less;
  • Reduce toxic chemicals and environmental impacts throughout the material life cycle;
  • Assure we have sufficient resources to meet today’s needs and those of the future.”

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) is a collaborative project of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (representing food and beverage companies), the Food Marketing Institute (representing food retailers), and the National Restaurant Association (representing the food service industry), working to reduce food waste generation, increase food donations to the needy, and to divert unavoidable food waste from landfills through recycling.


In addition to the webinar overview of the FWRA, there will be a series of free webinars to guide users through the waste assessment and reduction process presented in the Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit (available at All are welcome to participate. The schedule for that series is below. Click on a webinar title to register online.


US EPA Region 9 is also inviting food service facilities (restaurants, cafeterias, grocers, and other commercial and institutional kitchens) in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands to pilot the toolkit. Along with the free webinar series, pilot participants are offered one-on-one technical assistance from an EPA team member; the opportunity to participate in peer groups to troubleshoot the tracking process; the chance to present in future EPA webinars; and the ability to jumpstart or enhance participation in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. Learn more about the opportunity to pilot the Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit at


Questions can be directed to Amanda Hong at Thanks to Amanda for sharing information on these opportunities.


MREA PV 320.03 Solar Training Academy Begins in Normal, January 2015

MREA Solar AcademyThe Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) will be offering its PV 320.03 Solar Training Academy beginning January 17th, in Normal, IL.


The MREA Solar Training Academy is a series of weekend classes that will walk students through the photovoltaic (PV) design and installation process. The format of the Solar Training Academy will be MREA’s class progression that will include Basic Photovoltaics, PV Site Assessor, Intermediate PV, PV Design Lab and PV Sales and Finance. Classes will be held one weekend each month beginning in January and concluding in early May. Topics of this training will cover PV equipment selection, utility intertied and battery based systems, batteries, mechanical and electrical integration, PV design, PV residential site assessment, National Electric Code, system commissioning, solar financials. Participation in the Solar Training Academy will also include opportunities to meet with professionals in the solar industry.


Upon successful completion of the Solar Training Academy, students will qualify for:

  • Completion of 63 hours of classroom training for North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV Installation Professional and NABCEP PV Technical Sales Professional
  • Sit for the NABCEP Entry Level Exam
  • Sit for the MREA PV Site Assessor Exam (To sit for the MREA PV Site Assessor Exam, students will need to complete two practice site assessments outside of class.)

The course instructor is Alex Jarvis, of Solar Systems of Indiana.

Non MREA Member Price = $2,200.00; MREA Member Price = $2,000.00.


For complete information, and registration, visit


For more information on training available through MREA, see

Businesses in Central Illinois Taking Up Green Challenge

GOCbuildingThe Illinois Green Office Challenge is picking up steam in it’s goal to green-up Central Illinois businesses.


CBS affiliate WYZZ Channel 31 last night reported on The Ecology Action Center’s partnership with the U of I’s Illinois Sustainable Technology Center to help Illinois businesses and organizations save money buy cutting utility bills and waste.


The Challenge provides ideas to help businesses compete to get recognition for their successes in sustainable business. This year the competition is focusing on organizations in and around Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, and Champaign-Urbana.


Other partners in the Challenge include the University of Illinois Extension, Economic Development Council for Central Illinois and the City of Urbana.


9 Ways to have a Waste Free Holiday

  1. Reduce the quantity of food served. Holiday season means fun andfood with friends and family.  We all want to impress our guest with a lavish display of food but then we are left with the dreaded left overs. Don’t get me wrong…I love the cold turkey sandwich with the cranberry sauce the next day but after a week of left overs, I think, “Why did I make it all?”  So I challenge everyone to make less this holiday.  If you just can’t resist making all that food, consider finding a soup kitchen to donate all the left overs. (For more reading see this article: Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season)

    using old news papers, comics, and maps as wrapping paper instead of traditional wrapping paper

    News paper and map wrapped presents

  2. Consider locally sourced food. Plants are CO2 negative but you might be surprised just how much CO2 was emitted to get the holiday mashed potatoes on the table (For more information see True Cost of a Holiday Dinner).
  3. Give the gift that keeps on giving: Alternative gifts such as planting a tree in someone’s name (American Forests or Arbor Day Foundation) can be a lovely way to say you care about the special someone without bogging them down with more stuff. Or consider making a donation in their name to a charity that does work they value.
  4. If you still want to give a gift, consider giving the gift of curiosity and creativity. Think about what inspires your kids, your loved ones or your loved one’s kids to indulge their curiosity about art, the natural world, or how to create something innovative. Or give the gift of an experience, like a trip to a nearby city or a gift certificate for a new activity.
  5. Use greener alternatives to traditional wrapping paper
  6. Make eco-friendly decorations from used shipping boxes or consider getting a potted tree to plant after the holidays

    cell phone lights LEDs instead of a candle lit menorah

    Cell phone menorah for Hanukkak

  7. Consider Eco-Smart Holiday Greeting Choices – this article says it all!
  8. Traveling? Consider off setting your carbon emissions and remember to lower the thermostat at home or in the office.
  9. Spring isn’t the only season for cleaning. Because most of us feel “stuck inside” during the cold months, winter can be the perfect time to purge the house of unneeded or unwanted items. Don’t just throw them out.  Think of ways to donate, reuse, or recycle those items.


Additional Resources

University of Washington Offers Online Green Chemistry Certificate Program

A new certificate program from the University of Washington will help chemists, environmental and sustainability professionals, health and safety professionals and product managers make informed product decisions that take into account sustainability, toxicity and human health concerns. The certificate in Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship will be offered through the Professional and Continuing Education program at the University of Washington.


There will be three online courses in the certificate, and individuals can sign up for a single course on a space available basis:


The online certificate program is intended to give professionals working in chemicals management experience using comparative chemical hazard assessment tools for product selection. The classes will be offered sequentially, beginning in January, 2015, and concluding in August, 2015. Students will complete a capstone project requiring them to evaluate a chemical or product within a sustainability framework.


To learn more about the certificate program, see


To learn more about green chemistry, see the Green Chemistry Sector Resource on the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) web site.


For more sustainability and pollution prevention training opportunities, be sure to check the GLRPPR calendar.


Thanks to our colleague, Donna Walden, of the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) for sharing information about this training opportunity.

Add Sustainability to your Spring 2015 Class Schedule

As you’re thinking about classes for Spring 2015, consider adding sustainability to your schedule. Use our August post, “Tips for Greening Your Major,” as a starting point.


Sustainability diagram designed by Johann Dréo in 2006

Events Promote Sustainability Awareness at Home and Far-Far Away

PlasticParadiseDirector, writer and actress Angela Sun will visit the Urbana-Champaign campus at 6 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 21 for a screening of her film “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

The documentary records the plight of the natural ecosystem of Midway Atoll as it encounters the Great Pacific Gyre, a swirling garbage patch of plastic washed off of surrounding continents.

Named a National Wildlife Refuge in 1988, Midway’s reefs and sand islands form a habitat for millions of seabirds. The film traces Sun’s investigation of the damage produced by humans’ demand for plastic.

The event will be held in Room 149, National Soybean Research Center.

Co-sponsors for this free community/campus event are the Institute for Sustainablity, Energy, and the Environment (iSEE), and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

Plastics in the environment have increasingly raised concerns from researchers, activists and policy makers. California-based Surfrider Foundation has named October “Rise Above Plastics” month, during which they promote consumer awareness against the tsunami of plastic in the human economy. A phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century, plastic production has supplanted the use of natural materials with the benefits of being light and strong. But those very properties mean they degrade very slowly and have alarmed many scientists for their increasing presence in the marine food chain. ISTC has several projects looking at the reuse and recycling of plastics to keep more of them out of landfills or the environment. Click here for a recent report on plastic to oil research at ISTC.

Sun’s visit is also an appropriate warm-up to “Campus Sustainability Day” recognized on the U of I campus and nationally the next day, Oct. 22. Between 1-4 p.m. in Illini Union Room 314B on Oct. 22, iSEE will sponsor a progress report of the university’s Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP). In 2010, U of I became a leader among U.S. universities by announcing ambitious climate goals, including carbon neutrality by 2050. Register here for the iCAP update.

Working teams developing revisions to the 2010 iCAP will review the campus’ progress on the plan and accept public comment on a proposed 2015 iCAP update.

Pollution Prevention Week – Sept. 15-21

EPA logo with

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the federal Pollution Prevention Act, which declares: “pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible.” This week is Pollution Prevention (P2) Week where the EPA features achievements in making pollution prevention a cornerstone of sustainability. Find out more information and how you can participate by visiting the EPA’s P2 Week website.

PCBs: Public Workshop Takes Fresh Look at Familiar Menace


The University of Illinois will present a free public workshop on PCBs, the synthetic molecule that is a poster child for a wonderful technical innovation that ends up being an environmental scourge (remember ice-nine?).

PCBs are still around and still must be destroyed or securely stored. Register for the 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 workshop “PCBs and Their Impact on Illinois” here. You can choose to attend the live event at University of Illinois at Chicago, via live feed at ISTC’s conference room in Champaign, or on your own desktop.

U of I Library has come up with a brand new lib guide in time for this event. This executive summary of all things PCB is available on the library’s website.