SSC: Students Committed to Leaving a Lasting Impact on a Greener Campus
Try to name three things supported by student fees at the U of I. Was sustainability on your list? It should be. Each semester, students pay $14 in “green fees” to create a fund of $1.1 million — the largest student-supported university green fund in the nation.
The Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), a core team of 12 Illinois students, allocates these student dollars to proposed green projects that improve the sustainability of campus.
Yet the importance of SSC goes beyond the money. The Committee solidifies a campus culture that promotes environmental responsibility and stewardship from the student level.
It started small — with a $2 fee and a handful of passionate students who believed they and their peers should be included in decision-making regarding campus green goals. In more than a decade, SSC has grown into a powerful change-making program.
Today, the green fees serve as both a reminder and expectation of a student body that not only values sustainability, but tries to embody it year after year by investing in upgrades that will last far longer than those students will be on campus.
Student-funded and student-led, the SSC continues the legacy of students who advocate for a university that prioritizes not only its impact on academia, but also the footprint it leaves on the planet.
Click through the gallery below to explore the past, present, and future of this Committee!
Explore more SSC projects
The SSC funds projects in five categories: energy, education, water & land, food & waste, and transportation. Get a taste for some of these projects below, or dive into the full spectrum of projects on SSC’s website.
Energy projects have made up 54% of SSC’s funding history since 2008. Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation, and Energy Generation are some of these projects major focuses.
- KCPA Lobby Lighting: The lobby of the Krannert Center of the performing arts now shines bright with LED lighting
- ECE Rooftop Solar PVs (in progress): This LEED Platinum building will soon be equipped with solar panels!
- Biomass use at the Energy Farm: Did you know that Illinois has it’s own biomass boiler?
- BIF Rooftop Solar PVs: Solar panels on top of BIF make this eco-friendly building friendlier!
- Solar Thermal at ARC: This system heats water, the pool, and the temperature of the building.
Projects funded under education aim to change behaviors and increase knowledge on campus.
- Friday Forums: During Fall 2017, a 10-lecture sustainability series is offered at the YMCA each Friday. These events are also a collaboration with the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS), and the University YMCA’s Friday Forum Committee
- Sustainability Living Learning Community (SLLC): Did you know that you can live on campus with people who value sustainability just as much as you?
- Green Observer: This environmental magazine is published for students, by students. Get the latest nifty tips, tricks, and opinions on everything environmental!
Land & Water
Land and water projects can be seen all across campus! From campus landscapes to water conservation, it’s important to us.
- Sustainable Landscapes Plan: Per iCAP goals, all campus landscapes must be designed and sustained with sustainable materials. Any prairie plant you see on campus is a result of this.
- BIF Greywater Pipe System: This in-progress project aims to use non-potable water in the BIF for various purposes like irrigation, cooling, and toilets
- Campus Rec Water Conservation Incentives: Upgrades at ARC, CRCE, and the Ice Arena sport special flush valves and motion-sensor water faucets that help to conserve water
- Vet Med Prairies: In an effort to restore prairie landscapes, this project planted more than 7000 seedlings of prairie plants out by the Vet Med Campus to create a prairie restoration!
Food & Waste
Large Universities such as Illinois produce a lot of waste! These are just a few projects that serve to reduce that number:
- Illini Gadget Garage: Why throw away your broken technology when you can fix it yourself? This funded project is a great resource for students with broke phones, laptops, or any other tech that needs fixing.
- llinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI): IBI takes waste cooking oil from the dining halls and turns it into usable biodiesel for University vehicles. In Spring 2017, the group converted 100 gallons of waste vegetable oil — the same as planting a tree seedling and watching it grow for 10 years.
- Recycling for the Quad: You may have noticed the recycle bins next to every trash can on the Quad… You can thank your student fees for that!
Transportation is a great way to reduce emissions on campus. These transportation-related projects are a great example of student dollars on the move for a great cause.
- Bicycle Registration: Free to all students, bike registration promotes safety while also making sure your bike stays protected
- Bicycle Safety Classes: Funded in 2013, this project offers courses to ensure that Urbana-Champaign residents know the best (and safest) practices when it comes to rolling around the community
Get Involved with SSC
Join the Committee
SSC is looking for new members for its working groups year-round, and new members for the voting board every spring semester. You can find information about both types of membership here.
Vote to Sustain Green Student Fees
In March 2018, an campuswide student referendum will decide the future of green fees. Vote in favor of maintaining the green fees at their current level.
About this article …
In honor of the University of Illinois sesquicentennial, iSEE is doing a series of pieces on the rich history of ecological and environmental research and breakthroughs on campus. Our articles, photos, and videos also will touch on student, faculty, and staff activism and leadership on behalf of Mother Earth in the past 150 years — which have ramped up considerably in the past few decades! And this series will explore the future of sustainability, clean energy, and environmental efforts at Illinois and abroad.