Archive for the 'Illinois' Category

Program Spotlight: Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 by

P2ResultsforCongress_April 2015Cassie Carroll, Associate Sustainability Specialist and coordinator for the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards, contributed this post about the history and impact of the program. If you would like to spotlight your project or program on the blog, please contact Laura Barnes.

Since 1987, the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards has recognized over 500 public and private organizations for environmental excellence. In it’s 29th year, it is the longest-running awards program with a pollution prevention focus in the country. This year’s ceremony will be held on October 27th at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers (301 E. North Water St.) .

The awards were originally called the Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Awards. At that time, ISTC was named the Illinois Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center (HWRIC). HWRIC’s Industrial Technical Assistance Program had just been established to help Illinois manufacturers reduce pollution and prevent waste. The awards program was modeled on a similar one in North Carolina (since discontinued). The goals of the program were to recognize those companies that had significantly reduced their impact and encourage others in the state to follow suit.

first year winners govs awards

Winning companies at the first Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Awards in 1987.

In the Award’s founding year, four companies were recognized: Continental/Midland Inc.; General Motors Corporation – Central Foundry; Safety-Kleen Corporation; and Solvent Systems International, Inc.

The number of award winners continued to grow teach year. In 1999, the Center (then known as the Waste Management & Research Center) added a Continuous Improvement Award to honor companies that continued to demonstrate excellence in pollution prevention. In 2009, the name of the award changed to the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards. The change  acknowledged the Center’s broader scope as the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and recognized that many applicants were not only reducing pollution, but incorporating all three aspects of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social.

The awards program continues to be successful for several reasons. First, companies realize that there are cost savings involved with efficient use of materials, water, and energy. Many companies also want to get ahead of regulation and demonstrate good corporate citizenship in their communities. Finally, many organizations and companies integrate sustainability because clients and consumers demand that they do so.

2013 govs awards metrics

Environmental and economic impact of 2013 Governor’s Award winners.

The impact of the award winners is impressive. Although the majority of winners are from manufacturing companies located in Chicagoland area, applicants come from every region of the state and constitute a broad range of public and private organizations. Hospitals, manufacturers, municipalities, NGO’s, higher educational institutions, K-12 schools, and corporations have earned awards. Many companies apply for awards more than once. For example, Navistar has won the Governor’s Sustainability Award 14 times since 1987. A summary of the environmental and economic impact of the 2013 award winners appears at left.

The future of the Governor’s Sustainability Awards remains bright. Award winners not only contribute significantly to the environmental health of both the state and the Great Lakes region, they also serve as role models to other organizations.

For more information


Green Lunchroom Challenge to Assist IL Schools with Food Waste Prevention, Reduction

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 by

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, food production represents 10 percent of the total US energy budget, uses 50 percent of US land, and accounts for 80 percent of the freshwater we consume–yet, 40 percent of food in the US goes uneaten. And in 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children. Food waste is clearly both a tremendous problem and opportunity for improving the sustainability of our society. Reducing food waste in schools not only helps to ensure those precious expended resources are providing nutrition as intended, but also provides the opportunity to set important examples of conservation and systems thinking among our impressionable youth, which will hopefully stay with them as they become our next generation of leaders.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is therefore pleased to announce an exciting new project that addresses this important societal and environmental challenge. In order to identify sources of food waste in K-12 schools and facilitate its prevention and reduction, ISTC, in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), UI Extension, and Beyond Green Partners, Inc., is launching the Green Lunchroom Challenge this fall. Funded by US EPA Region 5, the program is open for participation from K-12 schools throughout the state. Marketing of the program will however, be targeted toward underserved regions of southern Illinois, including Pulaski, Alexander, Marion, White, and Fayette counties. According to data from the ISBE, over 70 percent of K-12 students in those counties are eligible for assistance through the National School Lunch Program. By preventing and reducing food waste in these areas particularly, and throughout the state, it is hoped the Challenge will not only achieve environmental benefits, but also stretch federal and state assistance and resources through increased efficiency.

Elementary school students in cafeteria

Photo: USDA Blog

Similar to the successful Illinois Green Office Challenge, the Green Lunchroom Challenge is a voluntary, “friendly competition,” in which participating schools will choose among a variety of suggested activities to improve the sustainability of their food service. These activities will range in complexity and commitment to allow participants to best suit their situation, budget, and available community resources. Examples might include, but not be limited to, composting of food scraps, use of creative entree names and careful relative placement of food choices to reduce waste of fruit and vegetables, donation of unused food to local food banks or shelters, etc. In addition to operationally related activities, schools may also choose to integrate food waste prevention and reduction into curricula, helping students learn about food security and hunger, composting, the circular economy, and stewardship. Resources and guidance will be available on the project web site and from ISTC technical assistance staff for each recommended activity, and participants will earn points for every activity they complete. Relative progress will be displayed on an online leaderboard. On Earth Day 2016, the participating public K-12 school with the most points will be declared the winner for the year and will receive public recognition and a prize (to be determined) to foster continuous improvement.

A kickoff workshop will be held in September 2015 (date and location to be announced) to introduce the Challenge; identify (in part through feedback from school and district representatives in attendance) key sources of food waste in schools, as well as barriers to its prevention; to raise awareness among potential participants of existing relevant toolkits and programs; and to provide comprehensive training on analysis and modification of menus, food procurement and inventory, lunchroom procedures, etc. Note that a school does not need to participate in the workshop to participate in the Challenge, and schools may register throughout the Challenge period (Sept. 1, 2015- April 1, 2016). While the competition is only open to K-12 schools in Illinois, ISTC hopes that other states and organizations beyond schools will be able to use resources developed for the Challenge to guide food waste reduction and prevention in their operations and regions.

Interested parties may contact Joy Scrogum with questions or to request addition to the mailing list for more information on the workshop and activities as it becomes available. The project web site will be available soon, and potential participants will be able to sign up to receive further information there as well. (The URL for the program web site will be posted in the comments of this post as soon as it is live.)

cafeteria tray

Photo by Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon

This post was originally published on the ISTC Blog, July 7, 2015.

Green Festival Chicago 2014

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by

America’s largest and longest-running sustainability event is coming to the Great Lakes Region from October 24-26 with the 13th Annual Green Festival. This event will be held at Navy Pier in Chicago for anyone interested in living a healthier, more sustainable life. Bringing together the world’s most innovative businesses, local artisans, and environmentally conscious consumers, Green Festival is an ideal place to promote the best in green living and offer a wide selection of products and services focused on fair trade, renewable resources, and organic foods. Attendees can enjoy vegan and vegetarian cooking demos, choose from a variety of inspirational speakers, and shop a unique marketplace of more than 250 sustainable businesses. Admission to the festival can be purchased online or at the door.

If you or your company has an interest in speaking at the festival, submit the application by early September to ensure consideration. Green Festival is also accepting applications for volunteers for the weekend. Volunteers must work at least one 4.5-5 hour shift and in return, they will receive free admission into the festival. For more information about the festival, please visit the website.

Climate Ride Midwest: September 6-9

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 by

In September, Climate Ride will be hosting their first-ever ride through the midwest. Climate Ride is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness for sustainability, active transportation, and other environmental causes with various bike ride fundraisers across the country. Starting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this ride will wind its way along Lake Michigan, through the states of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, coming to an end in Chicago. With Climate Ride carefully planning out the details of the route and the accommodations, participants simply have to focus on the riding portion. At 60-80 miles of riding per day, this ride will be a challenging, exhilarating way to contribute to a great cause.

For those who wish to participate in the ride or simply donate to the cause, visit the climate ride website. Each rider must raise at least $2800 by August 29 to secure their spot, along with paying the $100 registration fee. Spots are filling up quickly so register soon!

You can also follow the fundraiser progress on the website, to see how much has already been raised and how close the participants are to their goals.

Brewers For Clean Water

Monday, July 7th, 2014 by

With water being the main ingredient in beer, having clean water is crucial to the brewing process. Not only can the slightest of impurities throw off the flavor of the batch tremendously, but it can also become a health concern. Dozens of craft brewers, many of which rely on water from the Great Lakes, launched a campaign last year with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), advocating for the strengthening of water quality policies. Attempts to lower the regulations on water in recent years has not only put the beer industry in jeopardy, but also threatens public health for many other industries. Watch this video to hear from the participating breweries about the campaign.

The campaign also has created a Facebook page to keep supporters informed of all updates regarding the campaign. From hosting sustainability talks with the breweries to creating petitions to be sent to the EPA, those who wish to support the campaign will find everything they need to become a part of the cause.

For more information and a complete list of local breweries involved in the campaign, visit the NRDC website.

To learn more about sustainability in other food processing industries, please visit the GLRPPR Sector Resource for Food Processing.

Three Tips on the Road to a Great Governor’s Award Application

Monday, April 28th, 2014 by

This post, authored by John Mulrow, Business/Industrial Sustainability Specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, originally appeared on the ISTC Blog. Although it is directed at Illinois companies that are applying for an Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award, its excellent sustainability reporting suggestions apply to any organiztion.

To learn more about the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award, visit Also be sure to check out John’s recent P2 Impact column entitled “3 magic words to mute ‘sustainababble‘”, which offers examples of ways that organizations can make sustainability a meaningful word.

If 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 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 How To Apply 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 22).

1. Get key people on board

Governor’s Award Applications are typically a team effort, but there is often a single person or small team that drives the process forward. The application drivers can be anyone – from top management to employees who volunteer time on a Green Team. If you’re reading this, you may be the driver!

Send a note out to co-workers letting them know you’re preparing a Gov.’s Award application. Here are some key people to get on board early (positions vary by organization):

  • Top Management
  • Facilities/Operations Manager
  • Plant Manager
  • Sustainability Officer/Green Team Lead
  • PR Officer

 2. Read these two things

  1. Narrative Guidelines –You have up to six single-spaced pages to describe your sustainability accomplishments. These guidelines tell you how.
  2. Metrics Form Instructions – Download the Metrics Form (Microsoft Excel format) and read the Instructions tab.

 3. Check out the sample applications

ISTC provides sample applications that display best practices from past winners’ applications. Note that a good application typically includes a variety of projects touching on multiple impacts or aspects of sustainability. The project descriptions will also include some detail on how they were conceived and who was involved. We want to hear how your organization went from idea to implementation.

BONUS TIP: Consider normalizing your data

Normalized data is reported on a relevant per-unit basis. One of our 2013 award winners, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, tracked their water use in this way before and after implementing water conservation measures in their wash bay. Instead of simply reporting total gallons of water consumed, they reported gallons per vehicle-hour, providing us with a water-use measure that can be compared across years, regardless of how many trips the buses make.  This type of measurement, a normalized metric, is extremely helpful for evaluating your progress – the true impact of a sustainability project.

Check out the Illinois Manufacturer Inc. sample application for more normalization examples and talk to your team about what per-unit measures you might use in your application.

If you still have questions about the process, contact John Mulrow for more information at or 630.586.9168.

Earth Day Festivities Become Week Long Celebrations

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Every year, schools and universities across the nation participate in Earth Day activities. Many of the ‘Big Ten’ universities have extended Earth Day into a week-long series of events to create sustainable awareness across the student population.


Indiana University is hosting a week full of events and activities  to involve students  in the Earth Week Celebration. The Environmental Management and Sustainable Development Association (EMSDA) has planned an event each day, including presentations about sustainability and renewable energy, a documentary viewing about sustainable agriculture, and a bike ride to a  farm to learn about local organic farming practices, while promoting green transportation as well! To learn more about how Indiana University promotes Earth Week, please visit .


One of the main events hosted by Michigan State University for Earth Week is the Greening the Supply Chain Conference 2014, which took place on Monday, April 21, 2014 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.  In addition to the conference, the annual Tri-County Environmental Leadership Awards will take place on Wednesday, April 23 to honor the sustainability leaders from Eaton, Clinton and Ingham counties. The University has also hosted a Spring Bike Sale to promote sustainable transportation and has several Community Reuse Days planned to encourage the community to reduce, reuse and recycle. A full list of events can be found here.


To celebrate this planet that we all share, Ohio State hosted many events in the past week leading up to Earth Day. The celebration has been a huge success,  with the popular Green Lunch Series events and the Sustainability Summit. Whether it was the Community Recycled Art Project, the Environmental Film Screening, or the many seminars about recycling and sustainability, there was something for every member of the Ohio State community to become involved in to celebrate Earth Week. More information and a full list of events can be found here.


In efforts to accommodate all students’ busy schedules, the University of Iowa celebrates Earth Day with an entire month of sustainability and environmental activities, with events almost every day throughout the month of April. Although the month is coming to an end,  Earth Month has been a great success, and there are even more  excellent events to come! For a full list of upcoming events or to submit your own event, visit the University of Iowa sustainability page and check back often for updates!


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  is currently celebrating Earth Week this week to promote awareness for the sustainable living and environmental appreciation. With a variety of events and activities, the students of the University, as well as the members of the surrounding community, are given a plethora of opportunities to become a part of Earth Week. From a Clothing Swap held at the University YMCA to the Sustainability Symposium held by the Institute for Sustainability, Energy & Environment, there is something for everyone to attend! More information and a full list of events can be found at the sustainability website.

O’Brien Appointed Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Director

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 by

Kevin O’Brien, Ph.D., has been appointed Director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, effective Dec. 2, 2013. Most recently Dr. O’Brien served as president of Energy Commercialization, LLC, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A technology expert and project manager with more than 20 years of experience, O’Brien has managed multi-million-dollar programs related to renewable and sustainable technologies and practices in the U.S. and abroad. His international project experience includes Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Among his professional awards are R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 award and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Technology Transfer.

He will lead an organization which for nearly 30 years has advocated and helped enable sustainable practices in industry and other organizations in Illinois. Effective strategies have included applied research, industry and government partnerships, technical assistance, technology demonstrations, and information dissemination.

O’Brien’s energy expertise encompasses both the supply side and demand side. He is experienced with projects involving both renewable energy as well as traditional fossil based fuels. His focus in renewables has been on the development of utility scale solar projects. As a project developer, he has brought together the necessary technical, regulatory, and financial considerations in order to move solar projects forward. He has also been involved with advisory services to the state of California and utility companies on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

O’Brien received his B.S. in Polymer Engineering, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Macromolecular Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

“Dr. O’Brien’s record of effectiveness at bringing together diverse stakeholders for the development and deployment of renewable and sustainable technologies and practices is an excellent fit for ISTC,” said Institute Executive Director William W. Shilts. “His experience in senior management and as a technology innovator will provide leadership to meet the range of sustainable technology challenges our society faces.”

“ISTC is well positioned to be a leader in building collaborative networks between business, government and academia,” O’Brien said. “Today sustainable technology is a growing cultural force which we can move forward to maximize economic and environmental benefits.”


The Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois is the home of the State Scientific Surveys: Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. For over 160 years the Surveys have applied cutting-edge science and expertise to keep Illinois’ economy, environment and people prosperous and secure.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) was established in 1985 and joined the Prairie Research Institute with the other surveys in 2008.  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.

Register for GLRPPR/EPA Region 5 Webinar

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by

Join the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) and U.S. EPA Region 5 for a webinar on May 12.  Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at:  After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The GLRPPR/EPA Webinar provides an opportunity to hear about P2 Programs in the region, ask questions and stay connected.


  1. Opening comments by Julie Guenther, Region 5 EPA
  2. Presentation by IL: a. GLRPPR – Bob Iverson; b. I-CORE – Mike Springman
  3. Presentation by MN – Phyllis Strong: a. P2 Grant work; b. Green Chemistry and Design program; c. P2 integration program
  4. Presentation by MI – Karen Edlin: a. Economy, Energy and Environment (E3); b. Michigan’s Sustainable Hospital Initiative; c. Advancing Green Chemistry
  5. Presentation by IN – Jennifer Schick

Title: GLRPPR/EPA Region 5 Forum
Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Time: 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM PDT  

System Requirements:

  • PC-based attendees–Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
  • Macintosh®-based attendees–Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Contact Bob Iverson, GLRPPR Executive Director, for further information or questions.

Our thanks to Donna Walden, Regional Coordinator at the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN), one of our sister P2Rx Centers, for assisting with the set up and administration of this webinar.

Free Seminar to Precede Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards

Friday, October 15th, 2010 by

A nationally known speaker on Sustainability and a panel of experts discussing energy savings programs will be featured in an upcoming seminar.  The sustainability seminar will be Thursday, October 28 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign, IL.   The seminar is sponsored by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC).

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