In the midst of a cold winter, it may seem ironic to discuss our sustainability efforts on campus. But it seemed like the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to see where we have gone and where we are going. In the quest to become a pre-eminent research university with a land-grant mission and global impact, integrating sustainable practices in our research, classes, and buildings - every facet of campus – is a necessity and has been identified as a priority by our students and faculty.
We were excited to take another major step in that effort with formal establishment of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment – iSEE - and the appointment of a permanent director, plant biology professor, Evan DeLucia. This is one of the first recommendations that came out of last year’s Visioning Future Excellence conversations and was also identified as a goal in the campus strategic plan. The institute will serve as a research and educational hub for environmental and sustainability initiatives for the entire campus community.
As a campus, we have long been active in new initiatives to promote sustainable practice, both in our own activities and in research that translates to broader impact beyond our walls. From a campus-wide effort that has cut our annual energy costs by millions of dollars and has rewarded buildings with high energy reductions through the Energy Conservation Incentive Program, to the RecycleMania Game Day event February 26 and efforts in University Housing that have reduced daily food waste by hundreds of tons – thinking about ways to preserve our world and to steward our resources is a part of our community identity.
And the world is noticing. This year we garnered several national recognitions including a rating of Gold from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Reporting System. Gold is the highest distinction a university has been given. For the first time, we were also named to the Princeton Review Green Honor Roll, one of only 22 schools to make the list this year. We were ranked #1 in the Big Ten and 28th overall for Sierra Club Cool Schools. PETA2 named us one of the most “vegan-friendly” schools in the U.S. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Lincoln Hall project LEED Platinum certification, its highest ranking. And we also received a Governor’s Sustainability Award.
We have a long history of innovation and leadership in environmental science and sustainability. But it is exciting to see how that hallmark is being incorporated into our strategic future excellence.
Around the Campus
The U.S. Department of Defense awarded $70 million to UI Labs of Chicago, a public-private partnership that will combine the award with $16 million in state funds and other contributions to form a Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. Read more here.
Congratulations to electrical and computer engineering professor J. Gary Eden who has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering. Eden is among 67 new members and 11 foreign associates announced by the academy. Election to the NAE is one of the highest professional honors an engineer can garner. Read the full story here.
Congratulations to physics major Michelle Kelley who is among the recipients of this year's prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Gates Cambridge Scholars are selected based on a student’s intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to contribute to society by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others. Read the full story here.
Three Illinois professors have been selected to receieve 2014 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Congratulations to P. Brighten Godfrey, computer science; Prashant Jain, chemistry; Shinsei Ryu, physics. Read the full story here.