Now that Illinois Tech has established a vision and commitment toward becoming a sustainable campus, the university has begun to develop action plans to identify how we will get from here to there.
The Office of Campus Energy and Sustainability (OCES) is coordinating an effort among students, faculty, and staff to define the specific actions, programs, and policy changes that Illinois Tech will make in order to reach the targeted commitments that will define Illinois Tech as the most sustainable urban university campus in the United States.
The Energy Management Action Plan and Policies will detail projects and programs geared toward improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewable sources, as well as the university policies necessary to integrate a culture of efficiency into Illinois Tech campus operations—both from an administration perspective and for the Illinois Tech community as a whole.
Illinois Tech operations directly cause the emissions of more than 23,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions into the atmosphere every year. These emissions, combined with laboratory and process emissions, make Illinois Tech a source of harmful pollutants. The Emissions Action Plan will identify strategies for reducing emissions, capturing emissions at the source, and changing processes to avoid emissions in the first place.
Employees of the university need to travel to campus each day, and frequently the students of Illinois Tech who live on campus want to leave to explore the city around us. Additionally, our students, faculty, and staff travel regionally, nationally, and internationally to present scholarly research or to compete athletically and promote the university. All of this travel carries an environmental impact that must be mitigated. The Transportation Action Plan will discuss how we integrate with regional infrastructure to improve our daily impact while recommending policy and infrastructure changes to mitigate or eliminate the damage from all forms of travel.
Illinois Tech’s campus is recognized for its historical significance and its beauty. Unfortunately, few recognize the impact that our stormwater management has on the regional ecology. Illinois Tech not only sends most of the rainwater that falls on campus away to the Mississippi River through the regional stormwater infrastructure, we import an additional 34,000,000 gallons of water from Lake Michigan and send it to the Mississippi River as well. The Stormwater/Landscape Action Plan will bridge the gap between beauty and function to identify how Illinois Tech can reconnect with the existing watershed while maintaining the vibrant beauty of the campus.
Supply Chain Management
The purchasing of products carries several environmental impacts, from the creation of the product to its transportation to the packaging used to contain it. A holistic approach to sustainability will identify the necessary number and amount of products necessary to meet the core mission of the university while promoting and tracking practices among vendors that, at worst, minimize environmental impact and, at best, restore our environment to one that we can sustain. The Supply Chain Management Action Plan will identify a path to incorporating environmental requirements into purchasing while managing material inputs to reduce waste.
More than 90% of our time at the university is spent indoors, and maintaining a quality built environment is critical to achieving our core academic and scholarship mission. The Green Building Action Plan will review recognized building standards and recommend best practices that the university should follow in the building, operating and maintaining of the structures in a way that improves the interior environment for the occupant and minimizes impact on the exterior environment in which we all live.
Food and water sustain life. Providing high-quality food service to the campus is a significant responsibility for university operations and one that carries several environmental impacts. The Sustainable Food Action Plan will be developed in conjunction with our foodservice partners to identify the improvements that are necessary in the purchase, preparation, and service of food to meet the goals of the Campus Sustainability Vision.