UIC gets good grades for sustainability

Douglas, Grant, and Lincoln Halls

Green building Douglas Hall has reduced UIC’s carbon footprint enough to qualify for a sale of carbon credits to Chevrolet. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

 

UIC’s work in energy saving and sustainability — with cost-saving benefits — was recognized recently by two programs.

 

Gold brings green

In two years, the operation of Douglas Hall as a green building has reduced UIC’s carbon footprint enough to qualify for a sale of carbon credits to Chevrolet, which will retire the credits, making the environmental benefit permanent.

Douglas Hall was remodeled and certified as meeting LEED gold standards in 2012. From July 2012 to June 2014, it has prevented the release of 770 metric tons in carbon dioxide, said Cindy Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability.

Chevrolet and UIC may continue the arrangement over 10 years, adding up to potential revenue of $35,000 to $40,000 for UIC, Klein-Banai said. The funds will support the Office of Sustainability’s internship program.

Although the sale to Chevrolet concerns only Douglas Hall, UIC has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in many other areas, including energy-saving retrofits at three Science and Engineering buildings, the Engineering Research Facility and others, Klein-Banai said.

“We continue getting more people to walk, bike, use public transit and carpool to campus. And keeping materials out of the landfill by recycling and food waste composting reduces methane emissions, which is a powerful greenhouse gas — 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide,” she said.

 

Green brings silver

UIC’s sustainability efforts received a silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

That’s an improvement over bronze, UIC’s last rating three years ago, said Mark Donovan, vice chancellor for administrative services.

Donovan credited the gains to the work of the UIC Office of Sustainability.

To be certified, UIC administrators reported campus results according to the association’s sustainability tracking system, which covers operations, academics, engagement, planning, administration and innovation.

With 650 participants worldwide, the tracking system is the most widely recognized way to report a university’s sustainability performance, said Klein-Banai.

“We worked with dozens of campus partners to acquire the information to achieve credits. In the process, we have engaged more of the campus community in thinking about how sustainability relates to their work,” she said.

UIC also earned the 28th Annual Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award for 2014 for its commitment to improving the environmental health and sustainability of Illinois.