Archive for the 'Educational Institutions' Category

University of Minnesota Institute on Environment’s Fall 2014 Frontiers in the Environment Series focusing on big questions

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by

Read the full post from the University of Minnesota Institute on Environment.

This fall, the Institute on the Environment is refreshing our popular Frontiers in the Environment series. We’ll ask some Big Questions and host solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery.

Below is the schedule from the web site.

Frontiers in the Environment: Big Questions

Solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery.

Wednesdays, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST
IonE Seminar Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul
Free and open to the public; no registration required
Join us online via UMConnect

September 24 — Can We Build a More Resilient Food Distribution System?

Matteo Convertino, IonE Resident Fellow and Assistant Professor, School of Public Health; and Craig Hedberg, Professor, School of Public Health

Despite being a global concern, food safety is addressed in a systematic way only in some developed countries. We need an integrated ‘”system science” approach to managing the global food system that considers multiple needs and constraints, as well as an efficient system for transporting food and rapidly detecting food contamination and adulterations. Matteo Convertino and Craig Hedberg will describe a project that’s using computer modeling to predict and deal with food-borne disease outbreaks worldwide based on food supply chain structures and epidemiological data.

October 1 — How can the University of Minnesota assist the energy transition?

Hari Osofsky, IonE Resident Fellow, Law School Professor and Energy Transition Lab Faculty Director; and Ellen Anderson, Energy Transition Lab Executive Director

Our energy system is transitioning in ways that create critical challenges. Evolving approaches to sources of energy, electricity and transportation, energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, climate change, and environmental and energy justice affect every community and region and every sector of the economy. We need to remove barriers to needed change at local, state, regional, national, and international levels, and identify a holistic strategy for moving forward. Energy Transition Lab faculty director, IonE resident fellow, and Law School professor Hari Osofsky, and Energy Transition Lab executive director Ellen Anderson see Minnesota and beyond as a living laboratory for finding innovative solutions. They will explore how the lab will collaborate with business, government, NGO, community leaders, and university-based experts to make progress on these challenges.

October 8 — How Might the Twin Cities Help Catalyze Needed Global Urban Innovations?

Patrick Hamilton, Ione Resident Fellow and Director, Science Museum of Minnesota’s Global Change Initiatives; Anne Hunt, Environmental Policy Director, City of Saint Paul; Peter Frosch, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Greater MSP; and Mike Greco, Lecturer, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

By 2050, more than 6 billion people will live in cities. The quality of life in these cities of the future — and, by extension, our planet — is being shaped by decisions we make today. Patrick Hamilton will engage panelists Anne Hunt, Peter Frosch, and Mike Greco in a lively discussion of how the Twin Cities — one of the healthiest, wealthiest, best educated, and most innovative, creative and connected urban centers in the world — might use its considerable academic, nonprofit and business acumen to shape initiatives that directly benefit its residents while also helping to advance creative urbanism everywhere.

October 15 — Should Society Put a Price Tag on Nature?

Steve Polasky, Ione Resident Fellow; Project Lead, Natural Capital Project; and Professor, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Natural environments such as grasslands, forests and wetlands provide ecosystem services —benefits such as clean air and water and eye-pleasing landscapes. We value these amenities in the abstract, yet rarely figure them into a budget or balance sheet when developing a shopping mall or planting a cornfield. Steve Polasky will moderate a discussion about whether society could or should place a monetary value on nature — and if so, how to incorporate that value into decisions about resource management, conservation and environmental regulation.

October 22 — What Does a Sustainable Clean Water Future for Minnesota Look Like?

Bonnie Keeler, Lead Scientist, Natural Capital Project; Deb Swackhamer, Program Director, Water Resources Center; and John Linc Stine, Commissioner, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Minnesota has a reputation as a land of abundant, high-quality lakes and rivers. But is our water clean enough? Addressing surface water quality problems is expensive and not without trade-offs, such as lost industry, agricultural production and development. Bonnie Keeler, Deb Swackhamer and John Linc Stine will share their visions of a sustainable clean water future for Minnesota.

October 29 — What Is the Role of the Environment in This Year’s Minnesota Elections?

David Gillette, Special Correspondent, Twin Cities Public Television; Amy Koch, Small Business Owner and Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader; and Mark Andrew, President, Greenmark

With all the statewide constitutional offices up for grabs — plus a federal senate seat — it’s a busy election year in Minnesota. Surveys show that while people care about the environment, they often don’t make it the top issue when voting. How important are environmental issues in this fall’s elections? How are environmental issues being framed? What impact might the election have on environmental policy in the state? And what can University of Minnesota faculty, staff and students do to help voters understand what’s at stake?

November 5 —  How Can We Make the Most of the Agriculture’s 21st Century Transformation?

Nicholas Jordan, IonE Resident Fellow and Professor of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and Carissa Schively Slotterback, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Agriculture is in the midst of a revolutionary transformation. Output is rapidly shifting from a few predominant crops and commodities to a wide array of new foods, feeds, bioproducts and biofuels. At the same time, emphasis is shifting from minimizing adverse impacts to capitalizing on the potential of agriculture to improve soil, water, biodiversity and climate. Nicholas Jordan and Carissa Schively Slotterback will describe emerging opportunities and explore how one initiative in southern Minnesota is bringing science, social science and humanities together to develop and test a process for helping rural communities make the most of the economic and environmental benefits of the new bioeconomy as it develops around them .

November 12 — How Can We Help Children Connect to the Natural World?

Cathy Jordan, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium

These days, kids spend more time staring at a computer monitor or playing with electronic games than they do interacting with nature. Cathy Jordan will address questions such as: What effect does this have on children’s well-being and, ultimately, the well-being of our planet? What are the benefits of connecting children to nature? What can urban planners, landscape architects, educators and parents do to foster engagement between children and the natural world?

November 29 — Environmentalists and Corporations Make Strange Bedfellows . . . Or Do They?

Steve Polasky, Ione Resident Fellow; Project Lead, Natural Capital Project; and Professor, College Of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences with [panelists to be named]

When we think of a group of environmentalists fighting to protect fragile habitat, we may imagine an angry mob outside the gates of a manufacturer, chanting and waving signs. Or circulating an online petition. Or maybe boycotting a product. But the times, they are a-changin.’ Modern-day environmentalists are taking seats in boardrooms and influencing business practices on a global scale. Steve Polasky and panelists will share insights, challenges and successes in this lively conversation about these 21st century partnerships.

Students Honored for Fresh Ideas in Sustainable Electronics

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 by

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Sustainable Electronics Initiative has announced the winners of the International Sustainable Electronics Competition.

The winners in the Product Category (items intended for sale) were:

  • E-waste Meets Farming, smart phones remanufactured as cow collars (Platinum, $3,000) Michael Van Dord, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia;
  • Mion, a multi-purpose dynamo lighting system (Gold, $2,000) Mikenna Tansley, Jiayi Li, Fren Mah, Russell Davidson, and Kapil Vachhar from the University of Alberta, Canada;
  • Cellscreen, a large scale display system made from old phone displays (Silver, $1,000) Sam Johnston, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.

One platinum level ($3,000) winner was named in the Non-product Category (concepts valuable for artistic, educational, policy, or similar content):

  • ENERGENCIA, a children’s’ game encouraging the use of recycled materials and renewable energy concepts by Stephanie Vázquez and Pedro Baños of Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus Puebla, Mexico.

The videos of the winning entries are featured on the competition site, ewaste.illinois.edu, the SEI site, sustainelectronics.illinois.edu, and SEI’s You Tube channel, youtube.com/seiatistc.

Minnesota 2012-2013 Green Chemistry and Design College Curriculum Grant Projects

Monday, October 14th, 2013 by

Two grant projects, funded through MPCA’s Environmental Assistance Grant Program, supported the development of Green Chemistry and Design curricula at Northwestern Health Sciences University and a new laboratory experiment at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities to teach introductory chemistry students about sustainable polymers.

Further information and links to previous case studies are available here.

Calculating Scope 3 Emissions: One University’s Experience

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by

Today’s post is by guest author Mary Whitney, University Sustainability Coordinator for Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. It was originally offered as a response to an inquiry on GRNSCH-L, a mailing list for college and university sustainability professionals, about how to compile data for Scope 3 emissions for faculty and staff commuting distances and frequency. You can contact Mary at MWhitney At chatham.edu.

Accounting for Scope 3 requires a lot of figuring out what are your institutional  “indicators” that can give you a sound figure, even if it is imperfect. I always try to build in assumptions that would result in over-estimating carbon burden.

Over the last 5 years I’ve refined our commuting report and would be glad to share what we’ve developed. I still have to figure out how to account for Prius vs. Hummer issues yet though, so I’d be glad of advice on that!

When we’ve compared it to surveys, it is MORE reliable. We used to have to set up the survey, then all the reminders trying to get enough responses, etc. It was a real pain and took too much time, and it wasn’t even very accurate. Then we switched to having people put in their miles when they filled out the parking permit form, but it was wildly inaccurate – people were  just guessing.

Here’s what we have worked out since:

In order to park a car on campus you have to have a permit, and so we get a list of all permit holders from the transportation office. I have the make/model and the zipcode for each person. I correlate that with a report from HR that tells me if they’re faculty or staff, 12-month or 9-month, full or part time, and another from the registrar with students full or part time.

We then assume that full time is every day, 5 days a week. This is often NOT the case, but this way we won’t undercount trips. Part-time is considered to be 3 days a week, although again, it is often less. This assumes you’re here for a MWF schedule, even though many people are only doing T/TH. I can’t tell, but again, the assumption is that it’s more trips, not less. Faculty and students are counted for 36 weeks, staff work 49.

In cases where someone is part-time but attends every day, I would undercount, but so far I haven’t found many. It would be technically possible, I suppose, to cross-tab that with more registrar data, but that would be too burdensome, and I’ve made the decision not to do that. I figure that that possibility will be evened out by the person that is counted as full-time but does one marathon day of classes, 9-9pm. So afar I’ve found one of each of those extremes, so it seems a fair way to calculate.

Then I use a site that lets me set a radius from a zipcode. I saved a list of all zipcodes in various radii from the campus. We do every mile up to 25 miles, then jump to 30, then up to 50. I calculated them at www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm.

We tested the zipcode radius with many people’s real mileage, and it was surprisingly (and happily) very close!  As a way to get a good number without putting a mileage recorder on their car, it works well. We always include the summer campers, using registration data from the camp. I assume that kids living over 50 miles are actually staying with Grandma nearby, calculated at 5 miles away, and we assume that anyone living less than 1/2 mile is driving, although in reality most of the people that live that close walk to camp each day, as we discovered! Again, overestimating so we don’t underestimate.

Then I have a spreadsheet calculate the whole mess. For example, Zipcode 11111 is 6 miles away, Jane Doe lives in 11111 , works full-time as staff on a 12-month contract. 6×2 for each day, x5 days a week, x 49 weeks = 2940 miles per year. Believe it or not, it is actually simple once you get the basic spreadsheet set up. The zipcode distances auto-populate, and so does a code for FT, PT, etc.

I do a similar thing with students and faculty who do not have parking permits, with the assumption that they are taking the bus, unless they are on the bike commuter list that get the tax credit.

If someone is getting dropped off by car and never has a permit, I cannot account for that, but they are at least captured somewhat in the bus calculations. There are also people who I KNOW walk to campus every day, but I calculate them as at least bus commuters, figuring it helps even out and reduce undercounting carbon impact. Not perfect, but everyone gets counted somewhere a little.

 

Some observations about green college and university ratings

Friday, August 16th, 2013 by

This post originally appeared on Environmental News Bits.

Earlier this week, I posted about the Princeton Review’s list of green colleges and universities. Now, Sierra Magazine has released their seventh annual list.

Interestingly, two of the top three schools on Sierra’s list didn’t make the Princeton Review’s Honor Roll (perfect score of 99). They were the University of California-Davis (number 3 on Sierra’s list) and the University of Connecticut (number 1 on Sierra’s list).

This discrepancy made me curious, so I investigated further. Sierra Magazine and the Princeton Review collaborated with AASHE and the Sustainable Endowments Institute to create the Campus Sustainability Data Collector (CSDC), which is meant to simplify reporting for schools. In other words, they appear to be using the same data set. The Princeton Review has more information on the partnership here.

The CSDC FAQ offers this advice to schools who use the aggregated service:

How do I know what information to complete for each organization?
The Princeton Review and Sierra magazine have identified the specific data fields of particular interest that they are looking for institutions to complete. A link to both organizations’ websites outlining the specific STARS credits they are seeking is posted in the “Share Data” section of the STARS Reporting Tool and Campus Sustainability Data Collector. Please note, the Sustainable Endowments Institute has suspended the production of the College Sustainability Report Card and will no longer be seeking data for this publication.

CSDC’s Data Sharing Overview has this to say:

The Princeton Review and Sierra magazine are seeking data from specific STARS credits to be considered in their evaluation of institutional sustainability efforts for their publications.  In addition, Sierra magazine is seeking one supplemental data field (SD 10). Any information documented in the supplemental section does not impact a STARS rating and will not be posted publicly in an institution’s STARS Report. Completing these fields is optional but important if your institution would like to be considered for inclusion in Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools issue.

I also took a look at the methodologies for the respective lists (Sierra Magazine’s is here, Princeton Review’s is here). Sierra Magazine has this to say about their evaluation criteria:

Evaluation was based primarily on schools’ responses to the survey but when appropriate, we made follow-up inquires by phone and e-mail and used publicly available outside sources to verify and complement survey responses. Final ranking decisions, however, were based on our scoring key, a rubric which emphasizes the Sierra Club’s environmental priorities and rewards schools that do a good job of measuring and mitigating their impact. When it came to survey responses, all submitted materials were considered, though where answers were blank, unclear, or inconsistent, institutions were not awarded full credit.

The Princeton Review provides a list of their required CSDC fields here. They also state:

We asked all the schools we annually collect data from to answer questions about their efforts to provide (and continually develop) an environmentally beneficial student experience. The questions were created in consultation with ecoAmerica, a research- and partnership-based environmental nonprofit that convened an expert committee to design this comprehensive ranking system.

To sum up, although colleges and universities submit their data using the same system, each organization uses a specific subset of that data to compile their lists and, at least in the case of Sierra Magazine, may also have additional evaluation criteria.

2012 International E-Waste Design competition Winners Announced

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 by

Winners have been announced in the International E-Waste Competition. The competition is part of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

College students and recent graduates from around the world were encouraged to submit their ideas for products and services. The entries were ideas that prevent e-waste generation through life-cycle considerations (E-Waste Prevention Category) or that incorporate e-waste components into a new and useful item (E-Waste Reuse Category). The competition is designed to prompt dialogue about product designs for environmentally responsible computing and entertainment.

The winners were announced during a ceremony on December 4, 2012 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the coordinating agency for Sustainable Electronics Initiative. ISTC is part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. The ceremony was simultaneously broadcast as a webinar to allow participation of as many students who entered and other interested parties as possible. That webinar will be archived on the ISTC web site at http://www.istc.illinois.edu/about/sustainability_seminars.cfm.

A total of 19 entries were submitted; 10 in the Reuse category and 9 in the Prevention category. Jurors awarded monetary prizes to the top three projects within each category, along with one honorable mention award. The first place winners will receive $3000, second place is $2000, and third place receives $1000. A total of $12,000 was awarded, which has been made possible through generous contributions by Peter Mcdonnell (Friend level) and Dell (Platinum level).

Reuse Category Winners

Platinum ($3000): digitizer. The digitizer is a revolutionary new product meant to revitalize film-based photography and bring it up to date in the digital era. It repurposes working film cameras by using a purpose built physical interface device coupled with proprietary software so that film based photographers can use their camera to capture digital images. The device includes an image sensor and image sensor card that will fit into the space normally occupied by the film and film canister within an analog camera. The hardware and software are upgradable and designed to adapt to most computer and camera formats. The purpose of the digitizer is to reduce future electronic waste of cameras while reusing materials that are electronic byproducts. It does this by reducing the number of film-based cameras that are replaced by digital cameras, upgrading and adapting to new technologies without discarding and replacing currently working devices, and reusing often discarded electronic waste in its manufacture. By manufacturing the digitizer from e-waste components, chemicals such as lead, beryllium, arsenic, and mercury will also be kept out of landfills. The digitizer serves a twofold purpose by meeting the needs of an unfulfilled market of photographers and reducing electronic waste caused by outdated cameras. This concept was submitted by a pair of industrial design students from the University of Wisconsin-Stout: J. Makai Catudio and Ryan Barnes.

Gold ($2000): The Wake-Up Project. The Wake Up Project is a highly marketable, easy to use, smart clock concept that tracks the users wake-up times using software on a reused internet router. The smart clock would also incorporate reused cell phone parts, as well as plastic recycled from e-waste. Using crossover cables connected to a built-in web interface, the user can set a time for the clock to sound every morning. There is an
option to set up an entire schedule with variable settings for each day of the week. The device can be used with Outlook or iCal and the clock program is downloaded from the Wake Up website. The clock has a simple design face with one button that can function as a snooze or to turn the clock off. The Wake Up Project is a realistic solution to the e-waste problem that can secondarily provide consumer education opportunities. The
Wake Up web site would have information about e-waste and how the consumer could play a role in solving the e-waste problem. The Wake Up Project team consists of three industrial design students from the University of Wisconsin-Stout: Danny Kopren, Sam Wellskopf, and Lennon TeRonde.

Silver ($1000): Fluorescence Microscopy Using A Recycled Paper Scanner. This idea proposes the conversion of a commercial flatbed scanner into a fluorescence microscopy instrument, which is widely used to characterize biological events in diagnostic and research laboratories. The optical design allows for the scanner sensor array to be exploited as an imaging sensor without making major modifications to the recycled device. The proposed modifications have been engineered to be inexpensive and simple, yet they bring a high payoff in terms of performance of the scanner as an imaging instrument. Fluorescence microscopy is a cost efficient way to study behaviors of specific cell populations, which can then determine the presence of diseases and the source of the cause of disease. Scanner modified fluorescence microscopy is an even more cost efficient, proliferating means for the study of cell population. This device is meant to eliminate wastes and save lives. This concept was submitted by a recent graduate in electrical engineering (Dustin Gallegos), and two current students, one in biomedical engineering (Lillian Hislop) and the other in general studies (ZhanHao Xi), at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Prevention Category Winners

Platinum ($3000): EverCloud. EverCloud is both a service and product. It is a framework which allows users to personalize their phone with features and styles specific to their taste. By investing the user in the design process, they become emotionally invested in the resulting product. An EverCloud phone is also unique in that it is actually a portal to a data server–information is not stored on the local device. EverCloud is,in essence, a “cloud” phone. All applications and information associated with the phone are stored server side. This keeps the processing requirements of the level of responsibility and care. Since the software resides server side, it is always kept up to date. If problems arise with the device, such as a broken component, it can be replaced with an identical part or even with a new style of part if the user wants to ook or the experience of interacting with the device. As a design solution, the EverCloud system would eliminate waste created by hyper replacement of cellular devices, increase user satisfaction, and begin to shift the paradigm of cellular connectivity towards a sustainable future. This team was comprised of five industrial design students from Auburn University: Sean Kennedy, Christi Talbert, Dylan Piper-Kaiser, Sarah Caudle, and Daniel Piquero.

Gold ($2000): E3: Energy Efficient Electricity. E3 is a home monitoring and manually controllable energy system. Owners of this device have the ability to lower their energy bill while simultaneously prolonging the life of their appliances and electronics. The lifespans of electronic devices are often shortened through overcharging and associated overheating. This is frequently the case with cell phones, for example. E3 would allow power to be turned off to a charger, eliminating overcharging and phantom energy use. Phantom energy is energy used by devices that are plugged in and drawing power even when the consumer is not using them. The E3 can be implemented in new buildings and retrofitted to older buildings. By installing a home meter and specialized outlets (made of recycled plastic and electronic components), the E3 can monitor home devices’ energy usage. By using a smart phone app, the owner may choose devices to disconnect when not in use to avoid phantom energy use, thus reducing CO2 emissions. The app can also determine the best times to use an appliance or device to avoid peak hours. Continued use of the E3 can reduce energy consumption and costs to consumers. The concept was developed by three industrial design students from California State University at Long Beach: John Lee, Soyoung Bae, and Sam Sauceda.

Silver ($1000): loopbook — the future of computing. The loopbook is designed to address the most  important issues in the production and use phase of electronic devices. It is a laptop specifically designed to combat electronic waste by increasing the lifecycle of the device. Where possible all parts contained in the loopbook are constructed from reused and recycled components which will also be reconstituted for future loopbooks. The use of glass, aluminum, and other modular components enable the loopbook to focus efforts on reuse and closing the electronic waste loop. The unique core computing module (CCM), which contains the processor, memory, and storage, is upgradeable and removable. Thus, data and preferences can be carried on to the next step of the computer lifecycle should the body of the loopbook need to be repaired or replaced. The loopbook can perform as both a notebook and tablet, allowing consumers to experience both methods of computing with one device. The loopbook aims to change user behavior by creating a unique and attractive proposition of ownership and support for a new computing future. Loopbook was submitted by a recent graduate in product design and technology from the University of Limerick in Ireland, Damian Coughlan.

Honorable Mention

Sounds Amass. SOUNDS AMASS is an audio amplifying device system designed for public sharing on a rental/lease program. It is specifically engineered to reuse second-hand components from the e-waste stream that can be easily replaced and removed. This makes it is easy to find alternative components and allows for lower overall maintenance costs. There are two versions of the device, Amass-Uno and Amass- Duo. Amass-Uno is blue and features smart phone docking and LED lighting. Amass-Duo is orange and equipped with a detachable megaphone, wireless microphone, and a loudspeaker system. Both models could serve as sound systems for small parties, street performances, small forums, protests, and social gatherings. The devices can be rented or leased from convenient stores and community halls. The consumer can check device availability via smart phone applications and the Internet. These devices are the easy and ecological answer to the social forum future. This concept was proposed by a recent graduate in industrial and product design from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Tai Ka Cheong.

About the Competition

The competition was started at UIUC in the fall of 2009. In 2010, the competition was expanded so students from all over the globe were able to submit their projects and an online video. Each project was judged on the project description and video. The international scope was evident through students who submitted entries from Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Turkey, and the United States. The jury was comprised of a variety of experts, including:

  • Jason Linnell, Executive Director, National Center of Electronics Recycling (NCER)
  • Bill Olson, Director, Office of Sustainability and Stewardship, Mobile Devices Business, Motorola, Inc.
  • Steven Samuels, Former Brand & Design Manager for ReCellular, Inc.
  • Kerstin Nelsen Strom, Ecodesign Section Chair, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
  • Jennifer Wyatt, Environmental Scientist, Materials Management Branch, U.S. EPA Region 5

The videos of the winning entries will be shown on the websites of the e-waste competition at www.ewaste.illinois.edu, www.istc.illinois.edu, and www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu, and on SEI’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/SEIatISTC?feature=watch.

Join Us for a Webinar on Sustainable Electronics Wednesday, Sept. 19

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 by

Join us tomorrow, September 19 at noon Central time, when Dr. Callie Babbitt of the Rochester Institute of Technology presents “Adapting Ecological Models for Linking Sustainable Production and Consumption Dynamic in Consumer Electronic Product Systems.” Registration for the webinar is available at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/541176247.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Webinar–”Electronic Waste: Our Problem and What We Should Do About It”

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 by

Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM CDT. This seminar will be hosted live at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) in Champaign, IL, and simultaneously broadcast online. The presentation will be archived on the ISTC web site (see http://www.istc.illinois.edu/about/sustainability_seminars.cfm for more information and additional webinar archives).

Presenters include William Bullock, Affiliate with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and Professor of Industrial Design in the School of Art and Design, U of I at Urbana-Champaign; and Joy Scrogum, Emerging Technologies Resource Specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Prairie Research Institute, U of I at Urbana- Champaign.

See the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) Blog for further information and a link to the online registration form.

2012 International E-Waste Design Competition Announced

Friday, July 6th, 2012 by

e-waste competition logoThe Sustainable Electronics Initiative has announced the 2012 International E-Waste Design Competition. Registration is free and open to current and recent college and university students, from any discipline, throughout the world. Participants submit ideas on products or services that will either prevent the generation of e-waste by prolonging the useful life of electronic products, or that reuse e-waste components in a new product. Entries include, among other components, a brief YouTube video describing the proposed product or service. Registration opens September 1, 2012. For full details, see the announcement on the Sustainable Electronics Initiative Blog.

As part of its continuing partnership with the Sustainable Electronics Initiative, GLRPPR will be co-hosting a series of webinars focused on sustainable electronics research and issues in Fall 2012. Look for more information on the presenters here in the GLRPPR Blog in late August, and check the GLRPPR Calendar for the webinars, as scheduling is confirmed.

Students seek new uses for discarded laptop computers

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 by

Is a laptop computer useless without a hard drive? A group of University of Illinois students doesn’t think so and is exploring new uses for such discarded laptops.

Laptops used by government agencies and various industries typically have their hard drives removed or destroyed before being sent to recycling. This is done out of concern for data of a secretive, sensitive, or personal nature falling into the wrong hands.

With funding provided by Dell, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois is supporting the project entitled “A New Life for Laptops.” The project is being done in conjunction with the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at ISTC. Through this grant, SEI is challenging university researchers and students to envision untapped and underexplored uses for the valuable materials in laptops. The goal is to extend the useful life of these materials prior to recycling.

The project utilizes cross-disciplinary teams of students and research faculty from business, advertising, industrial design, and computer science engineering from the University of Illinois (UIUC) and scientists from ISTC, a division of the Prairie Research Institute.

The research effort is directed by William C. Bullock, Professor of Industrial Design. Others working with the project are Hong Yuan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Business Administration; Brian Lilly, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, Engineering; and Cliff Shin, Associate Professor, Industrial Design. There also will be participation from ISTC research scientists. Graduate and undergraduate students from engineering, marketing, computer science, business, and industrial design will work together as project design team members. There currently are 15 Illinois students working on the project.

“We are focusing on the entrepreneurial use of such laptops,” said Bullock. “We are researching what venture capitalists are doing in this area and looking at the reuse of laptop components.”

The students also are examining the current business model for Dell concerning lifespan of computer components and their use.

“Dell has a recycling program, and it is a good one. What we are looking for is a new vision on how outdated laptops can be used,” said Bullock.

Students got started in the spring semester with the donation of 20 recycled Dell laptops. They were donated by Vintage Tech Recyclers in Romeoville, Illinois. Students will be taking these machines apart in order to experiment with new ideas. Any unused computer parts will be returned for recycling. Final class projects will be presented in May 2012 and results will be posted on the SEI website.

The laptop project will move from a general examination of business and design opportunities to a more detailed focus on one or more specific product opportunities. These will be based on lessons learned and knowledge gained as the research and development progresses. The project will proceed through the three distinct stages during the spring semester. They are:

  • Research – the initial project focus will be on efforts to understand the market and the Dell user needs.
  • Development – the second stage uses insights gained through research in order to create new designs and concepts and present them to Dell for feedback.
  • Finalization –this stage refines concepts addressing materials, technology, and product performance. The final recommendations will be an electronic presentation to Dell.

The students recently had a conference call with Dell officials to discuss the program. The Dell staff members working with the students are Mike Watson, Director of Compliance, and John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist.

Waste from electronic devices is a growing problem around the world. These University of Illinois students hope to offer some possible alternatives to placing old laptops in a landfill.