Blog 3 Science, Innovation & Technology for Urban Sustainability

Blog 3 Science Innovation & Technology

Science, innovation and technology are important components of urban sustainability. They can provide solutions from the high-technology end to retrofitting, biomimicry, and more basic, inexpensive and readily-available technologies and planning approaches. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), and urban science and data can play key roles to solve urban challenges without expensive infrastructure requirements.


Identify an urban innovation project in any city in the world.

Think about the following questions and address one of them: 1) What role does this urban innovation project have for a city’s sustainable development goals?  2) What are a project’s sustainability outcomes and what methods/plans are they implementing to make the project a success? (Use valid examples to support your claim.) or 3) How does the project address all 5 factors for sustainable development (environment, economics, social equity, energy and health)?

BLOGS Due 10 PM on 10/27

COMMENTING ON BLOG 3 due by 10 PM 11/03



Urban Agriculture

Fresh market fruits and vegetables

In Chicago, more than 500,000 residents live in food deserts, and an additional 400,000 live in neighborhoods with a prevalence of fast food restaurants and no grocery stores nearby. In areas plagued by food deserts, health problems like type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other diet related conditions. My proposal to alleviate this problem would be to introduce urban agriculture into neighborhoods in the west and south side of Chicago, where food deserts are most prevalent. According to Organic Farming for Sustainable Agriculture, urban agriculture is defined as the growing, processing, and distribution of food and other products through intensive plant cultivation and animal husbandry in and around cities. In particular, I propose that the city uses the empty space in each neighborhood as designated area for growing fresh fruits and vegetables. From there, the community can host farmers markets every weekend where members of the community will be able to come and buy these products for extremely reasonable prices, and the money made can go directly back into growing more produce. This would be beneficial because it would give communities that don’t have grocery stores nearby a place where they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price. The farmers market could also help bring in fresh and healthier foods to the neighborhood because small businesses would be able to sell their products at these farmer’s markets. This ties into urban sustainability because it would help to give back to the community by supplying them with the fresh fruits and vegetables they would otherwise have to travel to obtain. It also helps to bring these resources into areas where they are most needed. The government can help promote this idea by giving money and resources needed to the neighborhoods in order to jumpstart this idea. After awhile, the produce will begin to pay for itself.



“Water” we doing?

Being that the earth is 70% water, we expect to always have a good supply when we need it or simply want it. We take this resource for granted and have yet to learn about problems that not only affect our surroundings, but also affects the people. In 2016, Pepsi admitted that the bottled water brand, Aquafina, was not purified. Which means that they simply used tap water. (Ryan 2016) Because Aquafina was using tap water, they had to change their labels to indicate what they had done. “Aquafina is the single biggest bottled water brand, and its bottles are now labeled ‘P.W.S.’ The new labels will spell out ‘public water source.’” (Aquafina Changes Label to Identify Water Source 2007) Even though tap water is much cheaper, it could most likely be contaminated with “high levels fluoride and pharmaceuticals. And in the case of Flint, Michigan, dangerously high levels of lead.” (Ryan 2016) Contaminated water affects people globally, and sadly, companies like Pepsi Co. have contributed to this water poisoning.


Water poisoning is not only an issue in water bottles, it also affects neighborhoods. Neighborhoods like Pilsen are doing their part to alleviate this problem. The Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization distributed water filters and indicated how to install the filters. On September 23rd, 2017, the St. Pius V Parish passed out these filters to their residents and “the Pilsen Clean Water Expo also feature[d] chlorine test demonstrations and signups for water quality tests.” (Cheung 2017) They’re informing their neighborhoods and teaching them that it doesn’t matter how little lead is found in the water, it is still not safe.


Earlier this year, I heard on the news that kids at school were becoming sick. After further investigation, they found out that these kids had a percentage of lead in their systems. School were closed because kids could not drink from the fountains. “Elevated lead levels have been found in hundreds of water fixtures in Illinois’ second largest public-school district following an initial round of testing earlier this year.” (Masterson 2017) Kids were being poisoned without even knowing. “Nearly 350 sinks, coolers and water fountains tested in May for lead came back above Illinois’ actionable level, according to the Elgin-based U-46 School District, which notified parents last week about the testing results conducted at 37 of its 57 schools.” (Masterson 2017) Hanover Elementary had results of 1,690 ppb, while at Clinton Elementary had a result of 3,120 ppb. “More than 620 times higher than the state’s minimum action level.” (Masterson 2017) The way the school district is handling this situation is by making sure fixtures that were installed before 1987 to go through testing before 2017 ends. Apparently, if even a water fountain has more than 5 ppb, it would be shut off. Hopefully, all schools will be tested for lead, especially in neighborhoods with low income. All pipes should be examined and replaced if they are too old or rusted to prevent further contamination.


Works Cited:

  1. Aquafina Changes Label to Identify Water Source. August 1. Accessed October 5, 2017.

Cheung, Ariel. 2017. Pilsen Group Giving Away Free Water Filters At Clean Water Expo Saturday. September 22. Accessed October 5, 2017.

Masterson, Matt. 2017. Testing Reveals High Lead Levels in U-46 District Schools. July 14. Accessed October 5, 2017.

Ryan, Kate. 2016. Pepsi Admits Aquafina Bottled Water Is Plain Tap Water, AKA Straight Trash. February 25. Accessed October 5, 2017.


Quiet Urbanization

With the constant expansion of urbanization, more and more cities have become the target for noise pollution. According to data gathered in 2016 by The World Bank, over 80% of people living in United States live in urbanized areas—bringing up some real concerns for the lasting and ongoing effects of noise pollution. Noise generally is known to interfere with concentration, disrupt sleep, and overall degrade the quality of life (as well as have a large impact on the environment) and in an urban environment this is only amplified. Chicago, a city that thrives on its urbanized landscape is one of many large U.S. cities struggling to confront this issue. There have been many attempts to tackle these issues including some policy and regulations as well as parks being built, but there are still several dense areas affected by noise pollution. Many of these are mainly due to traffic-dense areas, planes, loud machinery, public events, businesses. As a city, it is important to continue down the path of policy and regulation, but there are only so many preventative measures to be taken for the long term. To more directly influence noise reduction, I propose the construction of noise absorbing installations to be built around the city. These sculptures will exist in mainly residential and traffic dense areas (e.g. residential spaces by Midway, O’ Hare, etc.). Not only will these structures provide a means to blocking noise caused by the constant traffic, unlike many conventional noise barriers, they will more closely resemble works of discursive design. The can live on either the sides of buildings or as independent, free-standing works. The structures would mainly impact residents of the area as well as potentially provide refuge for small animals in these areas. With their eye-catching appeal, they could also in turn provoke discussion and bring awareness to issues of noise pollution and promote growth to the surrounding community. To address health-related & environmental bottlenecks, these sculptures would act as a discussion piece, while also being functional—alleviating some of the stress caused by noise pollution in high-density areas.


Image from:

Blog 2 – Energy & Public Health

Blog 2 Energy & Public Health

Wikimedia Commons

Environmental impact is one factor that contributes to public health issues, especially in urban areas, where there are large concentrations of people. Chicago, a large metropolitan area, has its own set of public health concerns that goes beyond its city limits and even crosses state lines.

Identify a specific public health concern as it relates to energy and urban sustainability in the Chicago area and suggest an informed, sustainable solution to alleviate/mitigate the problem.

Think about the following questions and address at least two of them: 1) What would be the best course of action and who would be affected? 2) Why would this plan be beneficial and how would it relate to urban sustainability? 3) How should a city government prioritize in order to address health-related and environmental/energy bottlenecks?

BLOGS Due 10 PM on 10/06

COMMENTING ON BLOG 2 due by 10 PM 10/13


Number One.. OR Number Two?


Water serves as a precious but limited resource, especially since every living person needs it to survive. Of course, UIC has already participated in several projects in order to mitigate the water consumption such as: spreading awareness about water bottles as well the development of several water bottle refill stations and low-flow fixtures. However, if one were to visit the campus today, one might note the lack of dual-flush toilets within many of the bathrooms (with the exclusion of Grant Hall, Lincoln Hall and Douglas Hall).

Proposal: In essence, the implementation of dual-flush toilets could generate a great impact on saving water. According to Boston University, “dual-flush toilets use a full 1.6 gallon flush for solids and 1.1 gallons for liquids” as opposed to the 3.5 gallons of water used for traditional toilet flushes. Furthermore, according to a study done by The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC),  dual-flush toilets had saved about 26 percent more water than compared to their single-flush counterparts. Surely these toilets prove to be both affordable and eco-friendly given the amount of water AND energy one might save.

A good location for the first set of new toilets would be in one of the student dormitories such as CTY or CW/CN.

Budget: Approximately $300 per toilet installation

Project Timeline: The installation of these new toilets could take around 2 to 4 months


As I spoke to a couple students regarding this issue, it had come to my attention that many didn’t really know how to use the toilets. Therefore it should be in our best interest to provide simple and clear instructions such as a having a little sign that said which flush was for which number situation. 


No More School Texts Books

Project description:

College students spend about an average of $900 in a year on text books. This number has been increasing at four times the rate since 1994. The Us h slashed a lot of funding opportunities and fewer part time jobs making book prices go up at the worst time for students who are already struggling. There is other options that a student can invest on, e-books is a more affordable option. A textbook retailer will show that the online version of a text book can be up to 60% cheaper than printing. You don’t necessary have to have an e-book because if you have a laptop it is compatible. Kindles range from $70-$499, an android tablet $50-$350 and so on. Depending on the subject a text book on kindle will be a start of price of $15.99 vs $70 on a hard cover text book. A lot of miscellaneous cost to be considerate when purchasing a text book is keeping it “brand new” so if applicable you can re sell it. Even when re selling your text book you wont be able to get 100% money back, The most you’ll be able to get out of re selling is 30%. Another thing to be considerate about is new editions are always being released. So the book you spend 70+ on may not even be re sellable. When buying a laptop or kindle the only caring you need is insurance and maintenance. Another factor to why paperless is better is the weight you have more than one class a day and when you carry 4 different text book in your backpack it can get overly heavy. When you carry a device its 4 texts books in one. As well as notebooks you waste so much paper when you can use a device. Slowly some schools are encouraging kids to take home tablets for homework so that would be less tress we are using for papers that will end up in the trash.

Preliminary project budget:

priting budget of : 250,000

Chromebook: $344

Mini ipad: $150

Project timeline: 2-5 years


Picture credit:


Water Bottles for New Students



Project name: Water Bottles for New Students

Project time line: Continuous

Project Description: Everyday I go to school, I notice just how many students are walking around with water bottles. [1] In fact, colleges and universities have been known to consume more plastic bottles annually than most other organizations. The solution I propose is for the school to supply one eco friendly reusable water bottle to each new student, whether transfer or freshman. UIC already has water fountains located throughout campus, so providing reusable water bottles will allow everyone the opportunity to help save not only the environment, but money as well.

Preliminary Project Budget: $8,000




BLOG 1 UIC Sustainability Fee Projects

Blog 1 UIC Sustainability Fee

My Urban Sustainability Impact: UIC Sustainability Fee

Since 2011, the UIC Sustainability Fee (formerly known as the Green Fee), a $3 per semester fee paid for by all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, provides a way to improve the quality of campus operations, reduce UIC’s environmental impact, and generate awareness about environmental and sustainable issues by creating opportunities for students’ involvement. The Sustainability Fee funds small, short-term projects, helps to subsidize larger, long-term projects on campus, and helps fund student travel to sustainability-related conferences. Review the Sustainability Fee website.


For additional information on previous projects: 2015-2016 UIC Sustainability Fee Report


University of California Sustainable Practices Policy

The Sustainable Practices Policy for the University of California campuses establishes goals in nine areas of sustainable practices: green building, clean energy, transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainable foodservice, and sustainable water systems.[1] As noted in the policy document, the University’s locations should be “living laboratories for sustainability, contributing to the research and educational mission of the University, consistent with available funding and safe operational practices” (University of California). In light of climate change and water security crises extremely relevant to the west coast of the United States, this set of policy regulations for the Universities of California is their action towards the commitment of sustainable business practices and the responsible stewardship of resources.

As a relatively new set of sustainable regulations, deemed effective in September 2016, it is difficult to analyze the policies’ action and effectiveness. Although many of the practices mandated within the Sustainable Practices Policy include tried and true methods of enhancing and ensuring more sustainable practices; for example, requiring building and maintenance to comply with popular LEED standards, using automobiles at LEV program standards, and enhancing the use of renewable, energy sources such as wind, solar, and biomass.

California, as an important leader in environmental policy and regulation in the United States, has the capacity to hold the University of California accountable for its proposed standards of sustainable practices. With the federal EPA possibly succumbing to reductions in power and authority, California may have less national supervision and enforcement of said regulations and policies. Even though, the state of California has historically been an autonomous figure in regards to social and environmental progress over the years.

[1] University of California – Policy Sustainable Practices