Sustainability

HOUSING SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES

A commitment to responsible stewardship of resources and sustainable practices is built into the fabric of University Housing. From everyday acts such as recycling and coffee ground collection, to LEED-certified construction and goals in our strategic planning, we strive to make sustainability an integral part of our department and a focal point in future decision-making.

2015 Governor's Sustainability Award

University Housing was awarded a Governor's Sustainability Award on October 27, 2015. The Governor’s Awards recognize organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability. The University of Illinois one of only 19 companies and organizations awarded; it was the university's first time receiving an Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award. 

Recycling

University Housing residents are encouraged to recycle to help reduce waste in our communities. Read more on the recycling page.

LEED Certification

University Housing's newest construction is being built to meet LEED gold certification. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization provides a rating system to certify buildings for their commitment to environmental sustainability. Our workers use low-VOC materials (improving indoor air quality), utilize local materials whenever possible, and recycle materials to reduce landfill waste. LEED certification on new construction

Sustainability Living-Learning Community

Located in the Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls, the Sustainability Living-Learning community welcomes students to learn about the diverse aspects of sustainability while living among their peers. Sustainability LLC website.

Water Savings

Housing Facilities has installed 50 glass fillers and 3 bottle filling stations in the last year which currently has saved more than 16,000 water bottles from being purchased.

Green Dining

University Housing Dining Services strives to create an environmentally responsible dining program, from how we source the food, to practices like trayless dining and reducing waste.

We are proud that our initiatives have helped University Housing win the 2015 Governor's Sustainability Award. Among other Dining awards, we received the 2015 Sustainability in Waste Management award from the National Association of College and University Food Services. The University of Illinois also achieved a spot on the Top 25 Healthiest Colleges list.

Trayless Operations

All of our residential dining locations are trayless. Trayless dining means less wasted food, less wasted energy from washing trays, and substantial water savings.

Waste Reduction

  • Dining Services participates in numerous waste-reduction programs, including waste recording through LeanPath, including LeanPath Spark, which displays real-time, post-consumer food waste information at the Ikenberry Dining main door, food donations through an in-house process, and other initiatives listed below.
  • Dining Services is now diverting nearly 7 tons of food from the landfill on a weekly basis.
  • Dining Services currently operates four Grind2Energy systems whereby our food waste is taken to a local aerobic digester to create energy and fertilizer. A fifth unit will be installed Summer of 2022.

Local Sourcing

University Housing Dining Services uses locally grown or produced products as often as possible.

  • 90% of all produce grown at the Sustainable Student Farm is used by Dining Services.
  • Dining Services is proud to serve dairy products from Prairie Farms, an Illinois-based company comprised of more than 800 family farms throughout the Midwest.
  • 62% of bread served in the dining halls is baked within the state of Illinois.
  • The University's Meat Science Lab provided over 16,000 pounds of pork and beef between 2019 and 2022.
  • Dining Halls serve products like chocolate chip cookies, pizza dough and pizza sauce prepared at the ACES Pilot Processing Plant from local ingredients.

Recycling Metrics

Dining services recycles glass, paper, cardboard, #1 & #2 plastic, tin cans, and used cooking oil among other things. Even our food waste gets recycled.

  • Glass Recycled - 108,455 pounds
  • Nitrile Gloves Recycled - 5,209 pounds
  • Coffee Grounds Repurposed - 1,973 five-gallon buckets recycled
  • Dining services helped deliver 145,902 meals to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to benefit those facing hunger and food insecurity through the 220 relief agencies the Foodbank serves. Dining Services also stored and transported 16,240 lbs of white rice to local food pantries and programs, including the Feeding our Kids backpack program in Champaign County, the Wesley Evening Food Pantry, and the Stone Creek Church Food Pantries in Urbana and Rantoul.

Supporting the Academic Mission

Housing Dining Services regularly participates with students and academic units on campus on sustainability based projects and research.

Green IT

Technology Services is averaging around $4,000 in annual power savings by using server virtualization, where one server is used to operate multiple applications at a time, resulting in fewer servers and less electrical usage. In addition, Technology Services uses in-row cooling in its data centers. These units cool only the servers, rather than wasting energy cooling the entire room as in most conventional systems. This innovation generates just over $7,000 in annual power savings.

Printing is a large consumer of resources, and so duplex printing is the default option on all University Housing lab printers.

Green Cleaning

At University Housing we are continually expanding our use of environmentally friendlier cleaning supplies, packaged in recyclable containers.

Integrated Pest Management Program

University Housing's pest management program is developed around environmentally responsible, low-toxicity methods. In July 2014 our program was recognized with Green Shield Certification.