New Illinois Sustainability Awards case study: Griffith Foods

ISTC’s latest case study features 2016 Illinois Sustainability Award winner Griffith Foods, a Alsip-headquartered manufacturer of seasonings, food textures and coatings, sauces, bakery and dough products, functional blends, and food safety solutions.

In 2015, the company conducted a materiality analysis to identify areas where they could make a positive impact on their triple bottom line — people, planet, and performance. They use this sustainability platform to drive their efforts within the company.

Some of the additional strategies they used to increase their efficiency and reduce their impact include:

  • Implemented sustainable supplier initiatives, which included a Supplier Sustainability Survey. The survey asked questions about avoiding slavery or child labor practices, discrimination, improve community involvement, ethics, favoring recycled materials, water conservation, reducing waste, energy and pollution, species sponsorship and charitable contributions. Suppliers receive a score based on their responses, which the company considers when making supplier decisions.
  • Launched a cafeteria recycling program with Aramark and Quincy Recycle.
  • Implemented ISO 14001 in all facilities.
  • Treats processed liquids at an on-site wastewater treatment plant, then sends it to the city for filtering and re-use. They truck the solids out of the plant and send them to be reused as farmland fertilizer.

Through these actions, Griffith Foods:

  • increased cafeteria recycling by 50%
  • funded 200,000 meals to combat hunger
  • diverted 1.3 million pounds of liquid waste from landfiils
  • reduced water use in sanitation by 537,000 gallons.

New Illinois Sustainability Awards case study: Hilton Chicago

ISTC’s latest case study features 2017 Illinois Sustainability Award winner Hilton Chicago.  The hotel, built in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel, was originally the largest hotel in the world. Now with over 1,544 guest rooms and over 1,000 Team Members, it remains one of the largest hotels in Illinois. The hotel has a long history in Chicago, holding a variety of major events and hosting visits from every past U.S. President since Calvin Coolidge. In 2015, over 1.6 million guests came through the doors of Hilton Chicago.

The hotel provides service to individuals and large groups who consume a wide variety of products and a great amount of energy. In addition to guest rooms, the hotel currently has 235,000 square feet of meeting space, three ballrooms, and 100,000 square feet of exhibition space.

Hilton Chicago uses a wide variety of sustainable practices to manage the 90-year old property. They include:

  • A food composting program, which began in 2010, that sends food scraps from guest plates, buffets, and kitchen prep to a commercial composting service;
  • A hotel-wide recycling program for paper, plastic, and aluminum. The hotel also furnishes recycling bags for use in guest rooms that are labeled with acceptable and non-acceptable items. The practice was shared with other Hilton properties and is now used by the Palmer House, the Drake, and the San Diego Hilton;
  • A glass recycling program that separates glass from co-mingled materials and is sent to a glass recycler monthly. They also recycle electronic waste, bulbs and batteries, ink jet and toner cartridges, and cardboard.
  • Installing LED light bulbs and fixtures in all meeting spaces and guest rooms.
  • Installing new water conserving fixtures in guest rooms. These include new faucet aerators in bathroom sinks, low flow shower heads, and toilet
  • After completing guest room renovations, the hotel donated all of the furniture from over 600 guest rooms, rather than sell the unneeded furniture to a liquidation company. The furniture went to a local organization called Catholic Charities, which focuses on providing food, clothing, shelter, and counseling to Chicago residents in need. The charity’s St. Leo Campus for Veterans, which received the bulk of the donation, offers 141 single-room occupancy apartments for veterans that were formerly homeless and now work with a case manager to become self-sufficient. The remaining furniture went to 52 additional housing sites.

Hilton Chicago’s actions have resulted in:

  • 265 tons material diverted from landfills
  • 5.8 million gallons of water conserved annually
  • 600 hotel rooms of furniture and artwork donated

Illinois Sustainability Awards in the news

CLC wins state sustainability award, listing on two prestigious media outlets (Lake County News-Sun)

In recognition of its efforts to promote environmental sustainability, the College of Lake County recently has made the list of top two-year colleges in Sierra magazine and the Princeton Review. Additionally, CLC received Oct. 23 the Illinois Sustainability Award from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Smart Energy Design Assistance Center honored with Illinois Sustainability Award (University of Illinois News Bureau)

The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center at Illinois was among the 27 winners of the Illinois Sustainability Award. Since 2004, SEDAC has been reducing the energy footprint of the state of Illinois through design assistance, outreach, research and education. Housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, SEDAC is a public-private partnership with 360 Energy Group.

CU Mass Transit District wins award for sustainable practices (Daily Illini)

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District was awarded the Sustainability Award for environmentally sustainable practices for the second time in five years.

Village receives 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award (Village of Hoffman Estates)

The Village of Hoffman Estates was honored for its sustainability efforts on Oct. 23, along with twenty-six other Illinois companies and organizations. The state-wide Illinois Sustainability Awards were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The winners were announced during a ceremony at the Union League Club in Chicago. The Village previously received the award in 2011 and received an honorable mention in 2014.

Nicor Gas Emerging Technology Program Receives Sustainability Award (Nicor Gas)

Nicor Gas’ Emerging Technology Program (ETP) is the recipient of the 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award for its efforts to implement innovative and sustainable technologies and its demonstrated commitment to sustaining environmental, social and economic health. The ETP, a part of energySMART, Nicor Gas’ energy efficiency program, assesses promising new technologies that have the potential to generate natural gas savings. It is the only gas ETP program of its kind in Illinois and the largest in the Midwest.

IFB honored for NLRS activities (FarmWeek)

Hundreds of field days, workshops and webinars educating tens of thousands of individuals about sustainability resulted in the recognition of Illinois Farm Bureau as a winner of the 2018 Sustainability Award. The award, given by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, honors IFB’s ongoing efforts to create awareness of, improve and implement environmental sustainability practices across the state.

27 Illinois Organizations Honored for Achievements in Sustainability

Twenty-seven Illinois companies and organizations were honored on October 23 for their significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping sustain the future, and improving the economy. The winners were announced during a ceremony at the Union League Club in Chicago. Read winners summaries in the ceremony program booklet.

“Illinois’ success as an economic and cultural leader depends upon our responsible management of natural resources, as well as sustainable development,” said Kevin OBrien, director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, which administers the awards program. Every year, a group of champions represents the highest models of sustainable commerce, resource use, and governance – the winners of the Illinois Sustainability Awards.

Since 1987, ISTC has presented Sustainability Awards to organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award. Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical assistance experts.

The 2018 award winners are listed below. Photos of winning teams can be requested from

More information on the Illinois Sustainability Awards program, lists of previous winners, and information on technical assistance services are available from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center,  a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2018 Illinois Sustainability Award Winners

  • Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District – Urbana
  • College of Lake County – Grayslake
  • dormakaba USA Inc. – Steeleville
  • Downers Grove Sanitary District – Downers Grove
  • DuPage County – Wheaton
  • First Presbyterian Church of Danville – Danville
  • Golden State Foods McCook – McCook
  • Greenville University – Greenville
  • Hilton Chicago – Chicago
  • Illinois Department of Corrections – Springfield
  • Illinois Farm Bureau – Bloomington
  • INTERRA, Inc. – Bolingbrook
  • Lakeshore Recycling Systems – Morton Grove
  • Lewis and Clark Community College – Godfrey
  • Madison County Planning & Development Department – Edwardsville
  • Menasha Packaging 21G – Edwardsville
  • Nicor Gas – Naperville
  • Northwestern University – Evanston
  • Riggs Beer Company – Urbana
  • Sheridan Correctional Center – Sheridan
  • Smart Energy Design Assistance Center – Champaign
  • Solberg Manufacturing Inc. – Itasca
  • South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium – Chicago Heights
  • Sterling Lumber Company, LLC – Phoenix
  • Village of Hoffman Estates – Hoffman Estates
  • Village of Mount Prospect – Mount Prospect
  • Village of Mundelein – Mundelein