iSee Logo
Select Page

Campus and Community Initiatives

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) has created its own campus initiatives, such as the Certified Green Office Program, and outreach events, such as its annual Congress, and support of other yearly events like conferences, Sustainability Day and Earth Week. But the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus has numerous other events and programs in place that showcase the community’s passion for sustainability, energy conservation and the environment — many of which receive support from iSEE. Here are a few (if you have others you would like to see included in this list, please email us):

Campus Initiatives

Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC)

sslc1croppedThe Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC) is iSEE’s finger on the pulse of student-led initiatives in sustainability. SSLC — made up of the leaders from numerous campus student organizations focused on sustainability and environment — is a place for student leaders to interact and collaborate. It is also the bridge between iSEE and the student body, serving as a two-way conduit of information and concerns about campus sustainability issues.

Our students want a voice in the decisions being made about how their campus reduces its environmental footprint. In the long run, the SSLC will foster deep collaboration between campus leadership and the student body in this arena.

Eco-Olympics 2016

Eco-Olympics is an energy competition between residence halls on campus. The goal is to engage, educate, and motivate students/employees/professors to change their behavior and attitudes toward energy conservation — and to have a good time while doing it.

2016EcoOlychartThe Spring 2016 individual hall winners:

  • Lundgren — 10.6% overall reduction
  • Taft — 4.5%
  • Van Doren — 3.4%
  • Bousfield — 3%
  • Townsend — 2.6%

In previous years, the program was part of a nationwide effort called Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN), and in 2015 it included a mini-Big Ten competition with Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State. CCN is the largest electricity and water reduction competition program for colleges and universities in the world. It’s an opportunity to organize students and staff, host educational events, and challenge students and staff to participate in fun events that can have an immediate and lasting impact on the school’s carbon emissions and campus culture. CCN is jointly organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, Lucid, National Wildlife Federation, and Alliance to Save Energy.

For the on-campus competition, the 2015 top overall winner was Bousfield Hall, which achieved a 23.5 percent reduction in energy consumption. Within Big Ten Unplugged, Illinois competed — and took first place (read more on our Recognition page) against schools like Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Minnesota.

The key to the competition is campus residents! Building captains must motivate their fellow residents to reduce energy usage through: building up their teams; hosting programs; advertising; and word of mouth. Energy used during the three-week competition is compared to a baseline measured prior to the competition.

For more information, email


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has participated in Recyclemania, a national collegiate competition that lets campus communities compete while benchmarking their waste reduction activities. Illinois’ Recyclemania participation has been through E-cyclemania electronic waste recycling events and Zero-waste events.


On March 18, 2014, the campus collected nearly 7 tons of electronic waste for recycling. The university’s E-cyclemania efforts, part of the Recyclemania national collegiate competition, brought in 13,870 pounds of materials — virtually “anything with a plug or that runs on batteries” — or about 0.24 pounds per person on campus. The waste filled two box trucks. There were three main collection sites: Allen Hall, Ikenberry Commons and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, but recyclers were able to make drop-offs at numerous participating campus buildings as well. The use of bike trailers by volunteers helped reduce traffic issues as the electronics were hauled from drop-off points to the main collection sites without causing congestion on campus. All e-waste collected was recycled by an R2 and E-steward certified vendor. Weight of the material collected was reported as part of the national Recyclemania competition.

Zero-waste events

In the first Recyclemania event, a men’s basketball Game Day on Feb. 26, 2014, at the State Farm Center, the U of I finished sixth in per capita waste generation and 19th in diversion rate at 31.5 percent with its recycling efforts. bins zwhomecomingAt the Illini Homecoming game on Oct. 25, 2014, the campus participated in the Game Day Recycling Challenge, a partnership between Recyclemania, the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC) and Keep America Beautiful (KAB) that is supported by the EPA’s WasteWise Program. Various campus and community partners — including the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, Facilities & Services and iSEE — worked together to raise awareness and have a positive lasting impact at this inaugural Zero-Waste Football Game. About 150 volunteers from all over the Urbana-Champaign community assisted the thousands of spectators in reducing waste — from the money spent sending materials to landfill to the volume of materials that impact our water, air, and soil. To read more about the event, click here.

Big Ten & Friends Environmental Stewardship Group

The University of Illinois is a proud participant in the Big Ten & Friends Environmental Stewardship Group.

According to the website hosted by Michigan State, “Not only have the institutions collaborated with each other, they have brought in external speakers to stimulate discussion on how institutions can constantly improve environmental stewardship. External partners have included Dr. Paul Rowland, Executive Director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE); Jean Lupinacci, Chief of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch of the EPA Energy Star Program; Nick Travis, Director of Project Development and Investment Services; Rob McKenna, Senior Consultant of Energy Strategies, LLC; and Kevin Lyons, Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at Rutgers University.”

To read more about Big Ten & Friends, visit the website. Click here to see the list of participating schools.

Community Initiatives

Dump & Run Sale

The Dump & Run sale is Champaign-Urbana’s largest waste-diversion event of the year! Each year, more than six semi-trailers worth of furniture, clothing, and home goods are collected from Illinois students and Chambana residents and sold at the sale to support the programs of the University YMCA. Why not share our surplus, rather than trash it?

Dump & Run is entirely dependent on volunteers for its success, and each year we need a team of iconic bright green T-shirt-clad eco-warriors who are passionate about serving their community and reducing landfill waste.

BONUS: When you volunteer, you get first shopping “dibs” on the unbelievable variety and amount of great things collected (after only 6 hours of volunteering).

Champaign County Sustainability Network (CCNet)

CCNetFinaliSEE has continued its partnership with the Champaign County Sustainability Network (CCNet), an organization that helps promote discussions on sustainability in the county — and beyond. CCNet’s original relationship on the University of Illinois campus was with iSEE’s predecessor, the Center for a Sustainable Environment; the Institute has kept working with CCNet — and hosts some of the group’s monthly brown-bag lunches in the iSEE Conference Room.

In the organization’s own words, “CCNet is designed to provide a forum where business leaders and citizens can learn about new technology, ideas and business models associated with the emerging trend toward sustainability. It … seeks to build local knowledge and networks and to highlight local talent, resources and innovations. It seeks to position our community as a leader in sustainability while improving the quality of life for the citizens of Champaign County.”

To learn more about CCNet and its events, click here. Future CCNet events, such as the monthly brown-bag lunches and the Green Drinks gatherings, may be found on the Illinois Sustainability Calendar.

Green Apple Day of Service

Green Apple is a global movement of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future. In September, Champaign-Urbana schools and communities are encouraged to create projects to improve the environmental health of their learning facilities. For the past few years the Illinois USGBC Students RSO has partnered with local entities to create volunteer and cleanup events.

UC Energy Star Challenge

ESchallengeThe University of Illinois, the cities of Urbana and Champaign and several partners participate in the Urbana-Champaign Energy Star Challenge. The Challenge invites commercial building owners and managers to benchmark a year’s energy use, then track and improve energy use throughout the following year, all with US EPA’s free online tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Local building compete against one another to see who can achieve the greatest energy reduction.

A few years ago, iSEE used student volunteers to help businesses in this endeavor. Volunteers trained to use the app and then assist local businesses in the process of using the web application for the Challenge.

More information here.