Annual Events & Conferences

In addition to its own iSEE Congress and Critical Conversations forums, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment helps sponsor and promote other annual conferences and events that bring sustainability, energy, and environmental issues to the forefront. Click below to expand details on upcoming events; for day-to-day schedules, visit the Illinois Sustainability Calendar.

Earth Month - April

Each April, we celebrate Earth Month as an extension of Earth Day, April 22. This is a time to enact change and inspire consciousness about how our decisions affect the campus environment and the Earth we share. Whether you’re already a passionate environmentalist or just looking to have some April fun, it’s all about showing the Earth some serious love!

iSEE coordinates with student groups as well as academic and campus units to offer climate-related public lectures and campus sustainability events.

Some highlights from Earth Month 2024: 

  • Campus Trash Pickup
    Help beautify campus and properly dispose of trash and recyclables! This is a great volunteer opportunity — bring your friends and help clean up. Sign up if you can, but showing up the day of is also encouraged!
    3:30-5 p.m. | Tuesday, April 16 | Meet outside Everitt Lab | Signup form >>>
  • Earth Month Lecture by Howard A. Learner
    Join iSEE and the College of Law for “Getting Smarter About A Smart Transmission Grid for the Future,” a talk by Howard A. Learner, President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Chicago.
    4 p.m. | Thursday, April 18 | College of Law’s Max L. Rowe Auditorium (504 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Champaign)
  • Illini Lights Out
    Student volunteers turn off lights in campus building to reduce energy, emissions, and money over the weekend.
    5:30 p.m. | Friday, April 19 | Meet at Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics Building | Volunteer signup form >>>
  • Boneyard Creek Community Day
    Join Facilities & Services, Champaign Park District, iSEE, and other organizations in cleaning out the Boneyard Creek and other waterways and green areas in Urbana-Champaign. Rain date: May 4.
    9 a.m.-noon | Saturday, April 20 | Meet at Scott Park, 207 E. Springfield Ave., Champaign | Register by April 13 >>>
  • Sustainapalooza!
    Join the Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC), SECS, the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), and the Illini Union to learn about environmentally-related RSOs, university affiliate groups, and community groups.
    Another highlight: iSEE’s Clothing Swap — be sustainable by donating and buying gently used apparel at our annual Earth Month event! (Participants are encouraged to drop off early donations in the Illini Union’s southwest vestibule any time from Thursday, April 18, through the morning of the event!)
    4-8 p.m. | Monday, April 22 | Anniversary Plaza, Main Quad
  • Sustainability Celebration, Green Globes Awards Ceremony, 2025 iCAP Kickoff
    Join iSEE and the Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC) as we celebrate campus sustainability accomplishments and honor student groups and Registered Student Organizations for their sustainable achievements during the past year (May 2023-April 2024). And visit with Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) Topical Teams to see recent accomplishments and challenges — and weigh in on what should be prioritized in the 2025 iCAP!
    5:30-7:30 p.m. | Thursday, April 25 | ECE Atrium and Grainger Auditorium, 306 N. Wright St., Urbana | RSVPs encouraged here >>>

For a full list of activities and student-sponsored events, click here to visit our calendar!

Sustainability Month - October

Sustainability Month 2023

A roundup of October events hosted or co-hosted by iSEE along with the Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC), the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS), and other student organizations:

View a highlight video here >>>

  • ALL MONTH LONG — iSEE’s October Sustainable Habits Challenge: The Institute invites all students, faculty, and staff members to challenge themselves and others to take individual actions to reduce consumption and live a more sustainable life! From Oct. 2 to 29, we are providing the resources and a points system to help participants track their consumption each week and find sustainable alternatives — and earn the chance to win a sustainability prize pack!
  • Noon-1 p.m. WEDNESDAYS, OCT. 4, 18, 25 — Wednesday Talks: SSLC and the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) are co-hosting three Wednesday Talks this month in the Spice Box at Bevier Hall. The first five attendees receive free lunch! These lunches will feature speakers with experience in the environmental industry, ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. Come join the discussions!
  • 5 p.m. THURSDAY, OCT. 5 — Write to Your Reps with SECS: Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS) will facilitate this gathering at the Anita Purves Nature Center (1505 N. Broadway Ave., Urbana), where participants can discuss and take action toward informing state representatives of important environmental issues. All materials will be provided, including stationery, topic ideas, sample letter templates, and ideas for community members to foster communication and action toward environmental goals. 
  • 7-10 p.m. FRIDAY, OCT. 6 — The Green Ball: Join the Urbana Park District for this “green tie affair” celebrating fashion as it relates to the green ball we call home — planet Earth. Come dressed in your finest thrifted, consigned, or upcycled styles. This event is free to attend; food, drink, and sustainable goods are available for purchase. Shop, learn, and celebrate a new era of sustainable fashion! 
  • 7:30-8:30 p.m. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 11 — SECS Eco-Bricking: Visit the Channing-Murray Foundation to repurpose used plastic and other waste by compacting it into empty plastic water bottles. Once you’ve compacted your waste into your plastic water bottle, you can use it to create an array of structures. From benches to garden beds to water wells, eco-bricks can be the structure for so many things! For more information, check out the eco-bricking website
  • 5:30-7 p.m. FRIDAY, OCT. 13 — Illini Lights Out: Student volunteers team up and visit campus buildings to turn off lights, saving energy and money — and reducing greenhouse gas emissions — for the weekend!
  • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18 — Sustainability Month Clothing Swap: To combat the pressing issue of fast fashion, iSEE, SECS, and SSLC host a bi-annual Clothing Swap. People donate gently used clothes that they no longer want in exchange for new clothes that others have donated. This is a sustainable way to get some new pieces for your wardrobe FOR FREE! This event will take place during Green Quad Day (event below) at Anniversary Plaza/Main Quad, so start clearing out your closets and come get some cute new clothes! Clothes can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 9-10, at the Channing-Murray Foundation. As with past clothing swap events, anyone can drop off clothes and/or take clothes. 
  • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18 — Green Quad Day: This annual event, hosted by SSLC, SSC, and the Illini Union, will be in Anniversary Plaza/Main Quad and is a great way for your organization to mingle with other sustainability-related groups, recruit prospective students, and learn about sustainability initiatives on campus. Additionally, local environmental non-profits and organizations will be encouraged to attend, so this can serve as a valuable networking opportunity. We encourage each organization to include an interactive element at their table.
  • 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18 — Kindness Rocks: Join us during Green Quad Day (event above) to paint sustainability messages on rocks that will be placed around campus to inspire others! We will supply the rocks and markers at our table on the Quad, just south of the Illini Union. 
  • 3-5 p.m. FRIDAY, OCT. 20 — Campus Trash Pickup: We will meet near Everitt Lab at 3 p.m. and will collect trash around campus until 5 before reconvening outside Everett. This is a great volunteer opportunity — bring your friends and help clean up our campus! In the event of rain, this event will be rescheduled to 3-5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27.


Past Earth Month Events


Earth Month 2023 highlights included our Energy Conservation Challenge all month long. More events: 

  • ALL MONTH: Favorite Campus Tree Contest
    From April 1 to April 22, University of Illinois students, faculty, and staff nominated their favorite tree for the first Arbor Day Tree Contest! Just provide the tree’s location, a photo, and why it’s special to you. The campus Tree Committee selected five finalists, and attendees at the April 28 campus Arbor Day celebration voted for the winning tree!
  • iSEE Congress 2023: “Addressing Crises of a Planetary Scale”
    The event examined the challenges associated with globally interconnected systems — and the need for partnerships and coordination to tackle planetary-scale challenges including infectious disease emergence, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
  • Earth Month Clothing Swap
    iSEE joined F&S and Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS) to help you shop sustainably. Everyone was welcome to donate and swap! 
  • Kindness Rocks
    Students painted sustainability messages on rocks that will be placed around campus to inspire others! 
  • Charles David Keeling Lecture by Manvendra Dubey
    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellow in Earth & Environmental Sciences presented “Greenhouse Gases Observations 1957-2100: Past, Present & Future”
  • Earth Month Trash Pick-up
    Volunteers helped beautify the campus! Co-sponsored by iSEE and Facilties & Services along with Volunteer Illini Projects (VIP) and SECS.
  • Green Globes Awards Ceremony
    iSEE and the Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC) honored student groups and Registered Student Organizations for their sustainable achievements May 2022-April 2023. 
  • Green Quad Day
    The Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC), SECS, the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), and the Illini Union hosted this event where environmentally related student organizations, university affiliate groups, and community groups shared how they are benefiting the environment. 
  • Illinois Energy Farm Tour
    Visitors checked out the research and clean energy efforts underway at our 320-acre farm! Many of these projects are sponsored by SSC. Highlights on site include biomass heating, geothermal, the Solar Decathlon Gable Home, and agrivoltaics (combining crops and solar array).
  • Illini Lights Out
    Student volunteers turned off lights in campus building to reduce energy, emissions, and money over the weekend.
  • Boneyard Creek Community Day 2023
    Volunteers helped clean up the Boneyard and protect lakes and streams in Champaign County! F&S is a cosponsor of this event, which includes lunch, music, and educational displays after the cleanup. 
  • TED Talk: Eco-Edition on Climate Engagement. iSEE Sustainability Intern Emily Dickett, senior in Civil and Environmental Engineering, hosted the Earth Month edition of our monthly online series. 
  • Arbor Day Celebration
    F&S, SSC, and iSEE hosted this annual celebration that includes a tree planting on the Quad, iSEE “tree-via” questions, guided tree walks, and the final vote on the favorite campus tree contest! 


The 2022 schedule:

  • Illini Lights Out
    Student volunteers turned off lights in campus building to reduce energy, emissions, and money over the weekend
    5 p.m. | Friday, April 8 | Meet at Foreign Languages Building
  • Earth Month Trivia
    iSEE hosted this uniquely environmental version of Union Trivia Tuesdays!
    7 p.m. | Tuesday, April 12 | Illini Union Courtyard Cafe
  • Earth Week ‘TED Talk: Eco-Edition’
    Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of Illinois Environmental Council, was the April TED Talk host online!
    7-8 p.m. | Tuesday, April 19
  • Click the photo to watch our Clothing Swap video on YouTube!

    Earth Week Clothing Swap
    SECS and iSEE led this reduce/reuse event for the benefit of the Earth! Participants were invited to drop off clothes in the days ahead of the Swap.
    11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Wednesday, April 20 | Channing Murray Foundation, 1209 W. Oregon St., Urbana
  • MillerComm Lecture: Richard Lazarus
    Harvard University Environmental Law Professor
    “The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court”
    4:30 p.m. | Wednesday, April 20 | Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum
  • Keeling Lecture: Gavin Schmidt
    Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
    “Success, Progress, and Challenges in Climate Modeling”
    3:30 p.m. | Thursday, April 21
  • iSEE Sustainability ‘Grammys’
    Our awards — co-sponsored by the Illini Union Board and Student Sustainability Leadership Council — recognized Registered Student Organizations and other groups for their acts of sustainability in 2021-22!
    6-7:30 p.m. | Thursday, April 21 | Siebel Center for Design
  • Green Quad Day
    SSLC and dozens of student environmental organizations, iSEE, and community organizations tabled on the Main Quad
    11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Friday, April 22 (Earth Day!)
  • Arbor Day Celebration & Tree Planting 
    Facilities & Services and iSEE celebrated Arbor Day with speeches and “tree-via” as a tree was planted on the west side of Mumford Hall
    Noon-1 p.m. | Friday, April 29 | Sims Executive Room of the Funk ACES Library
  • Earth Month Trash Pick-Up CANCELED!!
    This event was originally scheduled for April 8, then April 29, but inclement weather caused cancellations.
  • Illini Lights Out
    Student volunteers turned off lights in campus building to reduce energy, emissions, and money over the weekend
    5 p.m. | Friday, April 29 | Meet at Foreign Languages Building 

The 2021 schedule:

2020 schedule

2019 schedule

2018 schedule

2017 schedule

2016 schedule

Past Sustainability Month Events

Highlights from Sustainability Month 2022

A roundup of October events hosted or co-hosted by iSEE along with the Student Sustainability Leadership Council (SSLC), Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS), and other student organizations:

  • ALL MONTH LONG — iSEE’s October Plastic Reduction Challenge: The Institute invited all students, faculty, and staff members to challenge themselves and others to reduce plastic use by avoiding excess packaging, single-use water bottles, and other disposable items! From Oct. 3 to 30, we provided the resources and a points system to help participants track their plastic use each week and find sustainable alternatives — and earn the chance to win a sustainability prize pack!
  • ALL MONTH LONG AND BEYOND — Drinking Water Behavior Survey: Take five minutes to tell us about your sources for drinking water, and how you use plastic bottles and reusable drink containers. Be entered in a drawing for a $50 Illini Union Bookstore gift card. The survey >>>
  • ALL MONTH LONG — Sustainability Month BINGO: Participants filled out the iSEE board for a chance to win prizes! The board pictured here (or this fillable pdf) includes sustainability-related activities all over campus during Sustainability Month (Oct. 1-31). Participants let us know which actions they completed using the Google Form to be eligible for the prize drawing. 
  • 12:30-2 p.m. TUESDAYS, OCT. 4, 11, 18, 25 — Tuesday Talks: Each Tuesday in October at the Bevier Cafe Spicebox, SSLC hosted lunch at 12:30 and a talk on a different sustainability issue at 1, with free lunch for the first few people who show up! 
  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m. TUESDAY, OCT. 11 — Sustainability Month Clothing Swap: SECS, SSLC, and iSEE hosted this reduce/reuse event — with dozens of participants — at Channing Murray Foundation, 1209 W. Oregon St., Urbana. Channing Murray accepted clothing donations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10. All were invited to donate or participate in the swap!
  • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. THURSDAY, OCT. 13 — Green Quad Day: SECS, SSLC, and dozens of student groups were at Anniversary Plaza on the Main Quad to talk about opportunities through campus and community organizations.
        • iSEE Table at Green Quad Day: Take the Water Taste Test: It’s 2022 — why are we still drinking from plastic bottles? iSEE put our local water to the test so visitors to the Institute’s table could see, blindly, which water they prefer. Seventy-five people tried to taste a difference between bottled water and tap!
  • 5:30-7 p.m. FRIDAY, OCT. 14 — Illini Lights Out: More than 120 students participated in this popular event, turning off a record 5,042 bulbs in 32 campus buildings to help save energy and money — and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — for the weekend!
  • 3-6 p.m. MONDAY, OCT. 17 — Campus Sustainability Celebration: iSEE, Facilities & Services, and student organizations hosted more than 60 participants in person and several online for this annual celebration and appreciation event at the NCSA Lobby/Atrium, 1205 W. Clark St., Urbana. It was a great opportunity to meet and network with peer sustainability advocates and hear about exciting campus sustainability progress, awards, and projects. If you were unable to attend, view the video above!
  • 4-5:30 p.m. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 19 — Campus Trash Pickup: More than 80 students joined iSEE to beautify the U of I, meeting at the Alma Mater and collecting trash around campus.
  • 5-8 p.m. TUESDAY, OCT. 25 — Sustainability Research Symposium: SSLC hosted its annual at the Siebel Center for Design, 1208 S. Fourth St., Champaign, to explore sustainability research on campus. 
  • 7-8 p.m. WEDNESDAY, OCT.  26 — TED Talk ‘Eco Edition’: Dozens tuned in to this edition of iSEE’s ongoing Zoom series, hosted this month by Lucy Nifong, a senior in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, iSEE Communications Intern, and Vice Chair Internal of the Student Sustainability Committee. Participants viewed a prerecorded TED Talk, followed by a guided discussion and roundtable on Campus Sustainability Month!



Highlights from Sustainability Month 2021

  • Campus Sustainability Celebration: More than 100 people joined iSEE, F&S, student organizations, and campus officials at NCSA to celebrate campus sustainability progress, awards, and projects. Watch the video on YouTube >>>
  • October Waste Challenge: Community members participated in a month-long challenge to reduce waste and make better purchasing decisions. 
  • iSEE Campus Sustainability Training: iSEE launched a new series of sustainability training videos that provide information about how students, faculty, and staff members can help our campus meet Illinois Climate Action Plan objectives. Watch the video best suited to your role on campus and provide feedback!. 
  • Student Sustainability Summit: Hosted by the Student Sustainability Leadership Council, this month-long summit included tours of sustainable campus facilities, a career panel, Green Quad Day, a research symposium, a work day at the U of I Arboretum, and Tuesday Talks at Bevier Cafe, a series of lunchtime talks on sustainability topics.
  • iSEE Congress ‘Circular Food Systems”: iSEE hosted a series of one-hour seminars, lectures, and panels on various aspects of more sustainable farming and food production. Learn more and watch videos of the talks >>>
  • TED Talk: Eco-Edition: SWATeam Clerk Alexa Smith, senior in Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, led a discussion on what goes into a sustainable, beneficial economy. Participants viewed a prerecorded TED Talk by Kate Raworth, “A healthy economy should be designed to thrive, not grow.”


Highlights from Sustainability Month 2020

  • Campus Sustainability Celebration and iCAP 2020 Unveiling: iSEE, Facilities & Services, and campus officials hosted a celebration of campus sustainability progress during the past year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign — and a look ahead to our future plans. This includes Illinois Climate Action Plan 2020, which was unveiled and accompanied by remarks from Chancellor Robert J. Jones. View the YouTube video >>>
  • iSEE’s October Waste Challenge: 100 campus community members participated in attempts to reduce their waste and make better purchasing decisions. 
  • Certified Green Programs: iSEE, which made some revamps to its Certified Green Office Program, also released a sustainability guide for certifying a sorority or fraternity as sustainable with its Certified Green Chapter Program Learn more here >>>
  • Campus Sustainability Training: In partnership with the University of Illinois Ethics and Compliance Office and Video Services at Public Affairs, iSEE has launched a new sustainability training video. The training provides information about the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) 2020 as well as opportunities for the campus community to adopt zero-waste practices. More than 900 students, staff, faculty members, and local residents participated. All are still invited to watch the training and provide feedback!


Highlights from Sustainability Week 2019

In 2019, Sustainability Week was highlighted by the Campus Sustainability Celebration, in which the campus celebrated past accomplishments and kicked off the planning for the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) 2020 in earnest! Other events: tours of the Campus Recycling Center, the net-zero ReHome, and the Solar Farm; a “plarning” event to reuse plastic bags; a Quad tree walk; a celebration of the centennial birthday of the Red Oak Rain Garden trees; a film and panel discussion; dinner at the Sustainable Student Farm, and Illini Lights Out — iSEE’s monthly chance for students to turn off lights and reduce the energy consumption and environmental impact of our campus!


Highlights from Sustainability Week 2018

To kick off Campus Sustainability Week 2018, students were invited to participate in a new event called “Plogging” — picking up plastic while you jog. Attended by more than 30 people, the event was part fitness, part environmental action, part community service — and definitely ALL FUN. Students took a bag along on a walk or run to collect trash and recyclables along the path. In addition to other student- and department-led events, the week featured a tour of Abbott Power Plant, the annual Campus Sustainability Celebration (attended by more than 100 people). It concluded with an Illini Lights Out event in which students turned off lights in buildings around the Main Quad while in Halloween garb.


Highlights from Sustainability Week 2017

For Campus Sustainability Week 2017, we invited students, staff, and faculty to brainstorm one (or more!) habit they could begin to take a “Next Step” in their personal sustainability. We received more than 700 pledged actions. It’s not too late: You can still take a next step for the environment today >>>

At the Illini Lights Out event Oct. 20, more than 50 student volunteers turned off 4,972 light bulbs to save energy in campus buildings all weekend long. During the following week, we took a tour of a biomass boiler facility at the Illinois Energy Farm, “jumped for our lunch” at the Shell Synergy Truck, and watched “An Inconvenient Sequel,” taking a behind-the-scenes look at former Vice President Al Gore’s latest efforts to fuel a renewable energy revolution. (Thanks to the Student Sustainability Committee for bring the film to campus!)

iSEE hosted the second annual Campus Sustainability Celebration on Oct. 25 at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. More than 100 students, staff, and faculty gathered to learn more about campus efforts toward sustainability and the grassroots organizations and clubs supporting them. Facilities and Services awarded nearly $170,000 to 2017 ECIP winners.


Highlights from Sustainability Week 2016

Sustainability Week 2016 was Oct. 24-28 and featured “BIN IT,” a campaign to encourage campus recycling. It won’t take a minute, just bin it!

Highlights of the week included the first annual Campus Sustainability Celebration on October 26, 2017 at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center ballroom and a recycling contest for students, staff, and faculty to compete for prizes by recycling the most items. The “BIN IT” campaign website offered specifics on campus recycling procedure, and educational resources and cheat sheets for easier recycling on campus and at home. The campaign also featured videos of several familiar campus faces recycling. Check out the iSEE YouTube channel to watch them >>>