ISTC Technical Assistance Program helps Spraying Systems Co. communicate sustainability goals

ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program led a project at Spraying Systems Co. to help them define and communicate their sustainability goals using Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

The project included determining the company’s materiality. This process involves engaging internal and external stakeholders to identify and determine the relative importance of economic, environmental and social issues that impact on the company’s business performance. They also analyzed the company’s metrics to comply with GRI standards and assisted them with compiling a sustainability report.

Some of the company’s initiatives include:

  • Purchasing raw materials with recycled material when possible
  • Water reuse in R&D processes
  • Recycling brass, steel, aluminum, plastic and paper
  • Bulk purchasing to reduce packaging waste
  • Composting in our cafeteria
  • Reducing electricity use for lighting through fixture and ballast upgrades and solar panel installation
  • Natural gas conservation through HVAC equipment and building upgrades
  • Health and wellness programs for our employees
  • Safety training and continuing education programs
  • Community outreach programs

The final report is GRI-Referenced, which means that the company used selected GRI Standards to report their economic, environmental and/or social impacts.

Read a summary of the report on the Spraying Systems web site. The full report is available from the company upon request.

If your company is interested in collaborating on a similar project, contact the Technical Assistance team.

New E3 Success Story: Illinois Food Manufacturer

ISTC’s latest case study features an Illinois cannery that received an Economy, Energy, and Environment (E3) assessment. The parent company operates six manufacturing facilities. Their corporate headquarters has its own facility. Its products include both company branded and private labels with a wide variety of recipes. The Illinois site’s footprint is over 300,000 square feet and operates on a 24/4 schedule.  The E3 assessment evaluated the value stream from raw ingredient receiving through processing, canning, and labeling.

The assessment recommended nearly fifty best management practices that the company could use to save money and improve their efficiency. These included:

  • combined heat and power
  • renewable energy
  • controls and commissioning of electrical equipment
  • lighting upgrades to LED
  • variable frequency drives on process motors
  • compressed air system and steam distribution efficiencies
  • investigate aqueous ozone for sanitation
  • repair process water leaks
  • rainwater capture
  • installation of low flow devices in restrooms
  • recover recyclable materials

If the company implemented all of the recommendations, they could:

  • reduce electricity use by 7 million kWh and natural gas use by over 500,000 therms
  • conserve nearly 42 million gallons of water
  • reduce CO2 emissions by over 10,000 metric ton equivalents
  • save up to $1.2 million

The company has already fixed air leaks, which will reduce their yearly energy use by 168,000 kWh and save them over $15,000 annually. The site’s management team and corporate office are investigating other opportunities as well.

 

Food and beverage manufacturers discover new efficiency approaches at ISTC workshop

On March 27, twenty-five people from thirteen Illinois companies met in Collinsville to learn how to take sustainability to the next level at a workshop sponsored by ISTC’s Technical Assistance Program, the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC), Ameren Illinois, and Energy Resources Group, Inc.

Speakers updated the  attendees on:

  • energy efficiency opportunities for food manufacturers
  • ways to use renewables to make facilities net-zero enery
  • improving water conservation by ensurinng proper water chemistry in water and wastewater treatment systems
  • case studies highlighting waste reduction and diversion best practices
  • safer sanitation methods through effective alternatives
  • LEAN for food and beverage manufacturing

All attendees were offered the opportunity for a free on-site assessment.

Another workshop is planned for the Champaign-Urbana area later this year.

GLRPPR co-hosts spray paint efficiency webinar

On March 28, the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable, the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, and the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center co-hosted a spray paint efficiency webinar. The webinar was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Attendees learned about EPA’s 6H surface coating regulation and the spray efficiency techniques required. They also learned how simpler refinements in techniques can improve paint quality and maximize transfer efficiency.

The event benefits painters, supervisors, trainers, and technical assistance providers and offers the opportunity to receive a certificate of course completion for painters valid for five years from the date of issue.

Find the webinar recording and links to additional information on the GLRPPR Archive LibGuide.

Job announcement: Academic Hourly Research – Sustainability Technician

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is in search of a technician to conduct research on sustainability solutions to assist clients to improve organizational sustainability. Support and document sustainability activities associated with materials, processes, water and wastewater, energy utilization, waste minimization and recycling. Assist with research and oversight of solid waste prevention programs established by ISTC that assist companies and communities. Particular focus will be on supporting the Zero Waste Unit’s consulting projects (contracts) with commercial and industrial clients. This will involve performing waste characterization assessments at client locations.

Position Requirements and Qualifications

Education

Required: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, economics, environmental or related discipline. Alternate degree fields will be accepted/considered based upon the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.

Experience

Required: Six months of applicable experience working in business or industrial environment. Internships may be considered as professional experience.

Training, Licenses or Certifications

Required: Must possess a valid driver’s license and access to transportation.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Required: Effective communication, personal relations, collaboration, organizational, teamwork, and leadership skills. Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities with stringent deadlines, under minimal supervision. Attention to detail, sound judgment, and strong conflict resolution skills. Proficiency in commonly-employed software and databases. Must possess strong interpersonal skills and ability to work collaboratively with other scientists, researchers, staff and PRI clients.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. ISTC integrates applied research, technical assistance, and information services to advance efforts in the areas of pollution prevention; water and energy conservation; and materials recycling and beneficial reuse. Learn more at go.illinois.edu/PRIjobs.

For further information, please contact Shantanu Pai at spai@illinois.edu or 217-244-4768.

The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer.  Minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encourages to apply.  For more information, visit http://go.illinois.eud/EEO. To learn more about the University’s commitment to diversity, please visit http://www.inclusiveillinois.illinois.edu.

Technical Assistance Program awarded $338,549 grant to assist food manufacturers

ISTC’s technical assistance program engineers have been awarded a $338,549 pollution prevention (P2) grant from U.S. EPA Region 5 to provide on-site pollution prevention technical assistance, including Economy, Energy and Environment (E3), to Illinois food and beverage manufacturers and processors. This assistance will result in reduced water and energy usage, hazardous materials generation, and reduce business costs.

This grant is part of the ongoing Illinois Conservation of Resources and Energy (ICORE) project.

Principal investigator Dan Marsch says, “Since its inception, ICORE has been a very successful program providing on-site P2 technical assistance to businesses in underserved communities across Illinois. ICORE is one of U.S. EPA Region 5’s flagship programs, delivering consistent results and leadership in sustainability within the region.”

Food and beverage manufacturers, processing facilities, and their direct suppliers and supporting industries are all eligible for assistance under through this project. Interested companies may contact:

Northern Illinois

Shantanu Pai
(630) 586-9168
spai@illinois.edu

Central Illinois

Troy Walker
(217) 300-1596
twalk@illinois.edu

Southern Illinois

Dan Marsch
(217) 300-4199
djmarsch@illinois.edu

Three Sustainability Initiatives to be Thankful For

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, many people take time to reflect on the past year and everything it’s brought them. Maybe it’s time with family. Maybe it’s a promotion at work or another big career milestone. Maybe it’s as simple as the copious amount of food that’s waiting to be consumed at Thanksgiving dinner (calories don’t exist on holidays, after all). When people think about what makes them thankful, sustainability doesn’t often come to mind. This Thanksgiving, let’s recognize three Illinois Sustainability Award winners that have made a difference in their communities.    

Photo Courtesy of Genesis Health System                                                                  

 Aisin Manufacturing Illinois  

Aisin Manufacturing Illinois, located in Marion, Illinois, is an automotive manufacturing plant that produces a variety of products, such as sunroofs, grill door shutters, and door handles. Their goal is to help improve people’s living environment under the slogans of “Create with,” “Harmonize with,” and “Be with.” In 2010, AMI implemented a “Go Green” program that provides environmentally-friendly choices with financial incentives. In other words, the company reimburses employees for incorporating sustainability into their lives outside of work. To qualify for incentives, employees must fit one of the following criteria:

  1. Purchased a new or used hybrid vehicle.
  2. Installed geothermal or alternative energy heating or cooling system.
  3. Installed air conditioning or furnace system with SEER rating 13 or higher.
  4. Performed any whole house energy efficiency upgrades.
  5. Purchased LED or CFL light bulbs or any new Energy Star-rated item.
  6. Purchased recycling containers or bins in the program’s inaugural year.

In 2016, AMI reimbursed $9,268 and 138 team members participated.  Learn more about their award-winning projects here.

Sweet Beginnings, LLC

Sweet Beginnings, LLC is an excellent example of the triple-bottom-line of sustainability. Working under the principles of people, planet, and prosperity, the social enterprise produces beelove, an all-natural honey and honey-infused body care product line. Based in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Sweet Beginnings’ employee roster is made up of graduates from NLEN’s “U-Turn Permitted” program. “U-Turn Permitted” is a training and preparedness program for formerly incarcerated individuals with over 383 graduates. In 2011, the program began a partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Chicago Department of Family Support Services. Their goal? Install and maintain beehives on the property of O’Hare International Airport to educate and promote the public about the health benefits of honey, the environmental benefits of pollinators, and the importance of preserving pollinator and other natural habitats (especially in dense, traffic-heavy urban areas like Chicago). Learn more about their award-winning activities here.

Loyola University Chicago  

The Chicago-based campus of Loyola University is approaching climate change with a focus on three areas: the campus, curriculum, and community engagement. The University has established its commitment to a sustainable future by implementing a social justice mission focused on climate change. Recently, Loyola released A Just Future,  a detailed climate action plan that includes a goal to be a carbon neutral campus by 2025. The campus aims to significantly  reduce energy use, increase clean energy, provide incentives to boost teaching,research, and engagement of climate science and adaptation, procure renewable energy credits and carbon offsets, and implement climate-ready infrastructure projects. Learn more about their award-winning efforts here.

These three organizations are just a few of the many Sustainability Award winners that have been recognized over the life of the program. So this Thanksgiving, between that sixth helping of mashed potatoes and post-meal nap, take a second to appreciate the importance of sustainability in society. It may not be a priority in your everyday life, but sustainability is the steady driving force behind making this planet a better place to live. For that, we should be thankful.

Northwestern releases comprehensive integrated solid waste management plan

Northwestern University has launched its first Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (ISWMP) aimed at reducing waste and protecting the environment by taking a greener approach to waste management.

This Plan supports the University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan, which establishes objectives for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste and fostering environmental and ethical stewardship. The ISWMP identifies strategies for meeting the University’s objective of diverting 50 percent of campus waste from landfills by 2020 and further outlines waste reduction opportunities.

The Plan will guide the University’s efforts to achieve its Resource Conservation program vision within Northwestern’s Strategic Sustainability Plan “to adopt sustainable procurement practices for materials, food and services and take a comprehensive approach to conserving resources and reducing and managing waste.”

The ISWMP provides Northwestern’s schools and departments the opportunity to support increased diversion and reduced costs.

The results of a 2017 waste audit, with input received from students, faculty and staff, informed the Plan, targeting reasonable strategies for waste reduction and diversion. The waste audit consisted of more than 9,000 pounds of trash sorted from 20 buildings across the Evanston and Chicago campuses into 21 categories.

“By learning specifically what is in our waste stream, we now have the information needed to improve education, inform waste reduction and reuse efforts and expand recycling opportunities,” said Julie Cahillane, Northwestern sustainability associate director.

The audit team used an activity zone approach to capture waste from buildings by use, such as administrative offices, student housing and multi-activity spaces. A study team and a group of volunteers from throughout the University sorted the waste. The Plan breaks down campus waste to show what is avoidable, currently recyclable, compostable, potentially recyclable and nonrecoverable. The data revealed that Northwestern could recycle, avoid or compost nearly 70 percent of waste generated on campus.

In addition to the waste audit, the study team gathered input from more than 80 participants through focus groups, one-on-one interviews and workshops conducted throughout the study period. Discussions shed light on the overall campus culture surrounding resource recovery, waste-related priorities and challenges. The feedback was used to develop actions for increased recycling and waste reduction.

Over the past 22 months, Northwestern partnered with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to conduct the audit, engage stakeholders and develop a plan that would address the campus waste characterization and our stakeholder concerns.

“ISTC brought a wealth of knowledge to this process,” Cahillane said. “Their attention to the specifics of our campus and community were critical to the success of this effort. Working with them was a great experience.”

“ISTC is honored to have been part of an integrated solid waste plan that prioritizes resource conservation by utilizing data, understanding local realities and building on institutional successes to realize goals,” said Shantanu Pai, assistant sustainability researcher.

To help reach Northwestern’s goal of 50 percent diversion by 2020, learn what can be recycled on campus, participate in waste reduction efforts and understand your individual impact.

ISTC and Forest Preserve District of Cook County collaborate on sustainability master plan

ISTC and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County have a history of working together to improve sustainability.  Their latest partnership has resulted in the Forest Preserves’ Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan, in which they set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

The plan is divided into five priority areas:

Utilities & Emissions

  • Focus areas include GHG emissions measuring, reporting and reductions; green infrastructure integration; and water use tracking and efficiency
  • Major objectives include reducing energy consumption by 4.5 percent annually and developing green building and site standards for future projects

Preserve Operations

  • Focus areas include transportation and waste and recycling
  • Major objectives include reducing fuel usage by 4.5 percent annually and expanding recycling program to all FPCC facilities

Learning & Engagement

  • Focus areas include awareness and visibility, community engagement and employee engagement
  • Major objectives include promoting green practices with permit holders and enhancing Earth Day sustainability programming

Ecological Sustainability

  • Focus areas include natural resources management and practices
  • Major objectives include establishing Mitigating Impacts to Nature Policy as well as a Native Seed Policy outreach plan

Implementation & Advancement

  • Focus areas include green purchasing
  • Major objectives include establishing a Green Purchasing Policy, establishing and promoting a plastic reduction campaign, and increasing energy rebates and incentives with utilities

To learn more about the plan, visit the Forest Preserve District of Cook County or download the publication from IDEALS.

The Illinois Sustainability Award by the Numbers

adding metrics to a ISA application
Adding metrics to an ISA application makes a stronger case.

 

Adding metrics to your Illinois Sustainability Award application allows evaluators to truly see the quantitative or qualitative impacts that your organization, program or technology have achieved. Plus, metrics are important for your own use—to tell your story to stakeholders, to evaluate next steps in your sustainability efforts, and to determine the effectiveness of what you’ve done thus far.

Without an understanding of resource use before starting a project, how can you truly understand its impact on your bottom line and resource reduction? A major key to understanding project or program impact is to create a baseline for your project, program or initiative. By creating a baseline, you are creating a road map to tracking the success of an initiative and seeing what resource use looks like before implementing a new program, technology, initiative, or strategy. This is important to tracking the success of your efforts and can even help when asking for more money or resources for future environmental projects or initiatives.

There are many different types of tools and calculators that can be used to help create an annual baseline, such as ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (tracks energy, water, and waste). However, entering use data in a simple Excel spreadsheet can also yield a baseline. Important resources to baseline in your organization or business are energy and water use, waste, chemical use, and purchasing. If you have a fleet, fuel use might also be a good metric to track.

Before you start your project, choose an evaluation timeline – how long are you going to track metrics to see if your project was successful? What information would you need to collect? Remember to keep it simple and hone in on exactly which metrics will show reduction in resource use. Throughout the duration of the project, continue to track those metrics, even after the initiative or project has been implemented. Then, take time to analyze the data and see if a change has been made in the resources used.

Metrics don’t always need to be quantitative – especially if you are tracking impact of outreach or effect of a program on a particular group of people. Data such as number of people reached with information, or number of people participating in the program can be valuable as well. If you’re working with a group of people, get testimonials on impact of the program in their organization or everyday life. Ask whether the initiative, project or program will, or has already, affected their future success, or if connections outside of the project, program or initiative were made that otherwise would not have occurred.

The Sample Application section of the ISTC website can give you an idea of how to enter in data and metrics into our metrics spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel format) and talk to your team about what per-unit measures you might use in your application. If you have further questions, contact Deb Jacobson or Irene Zlevor for more information via e-mail (djacobso@illinois.edu or izlevor@illinois.edu) or by phone (630) 472-5016.

Remember, applications are due May 3. Start your application now!