Transit Oriented Development: A Sustainable Approach to Combatting Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Chicago

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Illinois finds itself amongst the leaders in greenhouse gas emissions nationally in 2015, emitting over 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Chicago, the biggest city in Illinois, presents a concentration of human activity that creates opportunity for the city to coordinate efforts to reduce greenhouse gases thus improving the quality of life for citizens locally, nationally, and globally. The City has identified five categories in order to achieve GHG reduction targets: buildings, clean and renewable energy sources, transportation, waste and pollution, and adaptation. While there have been efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago over the last decade, proof of successful reduction is minimal when approached through each of these five categories individually rather than collectively.

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Through comparable data presented from 2005, 2010, and 2015 (Figure 2) it is evident that there has been an overall reduction in carbon emissions, from ~36.9 million metric tons in 2005 to ~32.6 million metric tons in 2015. This data categorizes these GHG emissions further into five main sectors: residential buildings, commercial and institutional buildings, manufacturing industries and construction, transportation, and waste. While holistically it seems that greenhouse gas emissions are consistently lowering, through the categorization of these different sectors of emission sources the data clearly communicates which sectors are reducing their emissions consistently and which are not. Through isolating the sources of these emissions the data begins to communicate how to create more sustainable practices in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The entire transportation sector more broadly contributes to 25% of all local emissions. Through the isolation of this sector, (Figure 4) transportation is broken down into on-road transportation, off-road transportation, aviation, railways, and waterborne navigation. While on-road transportation only contributes 16% of all GHG emissions in Chicago, on-road transportation accounts for 63% of GHG emissions specific to the transportation sector. Railway operation locally, Amtrak, CTA, Metra, etc., contribute only roughly 5% of sector emissions, thus proving as a more environmentally efficient and sustainable form of transportation. Through emphasizing development patterns that encourage more efficient and sustainable models of transit, Chicago is in turn combating the problem of greenhouse gas emission.

In order to combat greenhouse gas emissions which contribute largely to global climate change, we must investigate and deploy sustainable development patterns that serve to emphasize the reduction of the use of on-road transportation in Chicago. One development pattern in response to these emissions is ​transit-oriented development​, the new urbanist method of creating dense, mixed-use developments relative to public transportation thus eliminating the need for the residents to own an automobile. TOD can be understood as urban development’s response to a combination of urban forces: congestion, inefficiency, carbon emissions, and sprawl. This development pattern not only eliminates the residents need for a car but also works in creating walkable/cyclable neighborhoods as well as in establishing connectivity and density, thus increasing mobility while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

Transit-oriented development seeks to bring together compact, walkable communities and quality rail systems in order to create low carbon lifestyles, enabling people to live, work, and play locally without depending on on-road transportation for mobility. The U.S. Institute for Transportation and Development Policy defines TOD as an “answer to the unsustainable, car-dependant, and transit-poor urban sprawl that has characterized the growth of cities around the world in the last century”. This lifestyle reduces energy consumption and driving by 85% and reduces the area’s carbon footprint by 44%, therefore contributing a consistent emphasis on sustainable development through the lense of reducing carbon emissions attributed to transportation.

Transit-oriented kitten

Collage created by Jordan M. Rife 2018

Works Cited:


2. Center for Neighborhood Technology. “Transit-Oriented Development in the Chicago Region Efficient and Resilient Communities for the 21st Century” (2013):1- 62

3. Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. “TOD Standard.”​ (accessed 2018)

4. Transit Oriented Development Institute. “Sustainability.” TOD.org​ (accessed 2018)

5. U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions by State, 2000-2015” (2018): 1-30


Bio-composites for a sustainable future. (36)



This video is designed to educate you about bio-composites.  First I’ll cover current waste issues that the United States is facing. Then, i’ll talk about why bio-composites matter, how they are made, and possible uses of them.  After watching this, I hope you start thinking about the further uses that they can have, and how you can make an impact by using or making them.


“Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Nov. 2017,

Hoch, M. Organotin Compounds in the Environment — an Overview . 16 Vol. ,
2001. Web.

Judith L. Fridovich-Keil. Bioplastic . Encyclopædia Britannica Inc, 2016. Print.

Staff, Creative Mechanisms. “Everything You Need to Know About Bioplastics.
Creative Mechanisms. 2016. Web. Apr 1, 2018

bout-bioplastics >.




Group 34. Water Scarcity


In a world in which facts and science are ignored, and making money seems to trump all else, our video will focus on one of the most if not the most devastating consequences of climate change; water scarcity. Our video will focus on the effects water scarcity has on land, large and small populations of different cities, and towns, as well as the general instability water scarcity will have on many governments and regions around the world.



Group #10: Breaking News: Landfills are filling up

Blog 2

Gabrielle Sanders

53f02e9cd6ba9.preview-620.jpg(Duncan, 2014)

Landfills in Illinois are filling up. Actually, one landfill in Pontiac has an estimated 19 years until it is completely full (Brackett, 2017). In this news cast, the problem of fast-food waste and what to do with it will be discussed as well as potential solutions.



Brackett, E. (2017). Where Does Chicago’s Garbage Go?. Chicago Tonight | WTTW.

Duncan, D. (August 17, 2014). Landfills in Illinois Have 21 Year Life Expectancy.–year-life-expectancy/article_38b078f6-061e-5f5f-9ac0-a1fd9dd01a4a.html

Group 5: The Dark Side to K-Cups

cat k cup

The purpose of this video is to educate students at University of Illinois at Chicago about composting and to propose ideas for the expansion of composting on campus. It was made by four undergraduate students: Alyssa Hoffmann, Shraddha Shetty, Helen Wong, and Cecilia Siragusa.

Composting is the action of mixing together various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves, manure, and vegetable scraps, and placing them into specialized bins in order to create new soil.This mixture is used as a fertilizer. It is full of nutrients from the organic materials it is comprised of. Composting is an effective way of minimizing waste that would otherwise go into landfills.The United States produces a whopping 387 million pounds of organic waste per year. Sadly, only 1.4% of the organic waste is composted on average. As the amount of waste continues to grow each year, everyone needs to help to reduce it. As a UIC student, composting on campus could be the way YOU help make a positive impact!

Some of the materials that students could compost daily are leftover food from their meals, paper products ,and organic materials like dry leaves. Ideally, the goal would be to implement composting in all of UIC’s dining halls. However, this will cost a large amount of resources; and therefore, is a better long term objective. Our group is interested in composting coffee grounds on campus through the use of K-Cup recycling. K-Cups, also known as coffee capsules, are small pods filled with coffee grounds. These pods are inserted into coffee brewing machines. K-Cups have gained much popularity because they are convenient and mess free. However, many people don’t know that their K-Cup usage is having a detrimental impact on our environment. Billions of K-cups are dumped into landfills every year, where they take between 150 – 500 years to break down. The capsules are made of aluminum and plastic, which are not biodegradable materials.

There are recycling vendors available who offer K-Cup recycling. By partnering with a recycling company, such as Terracycle, we can make better use of the aluminum and plastic coffee pods that would otherwise go into landfills. The coffee grounds are turned into compost while the pods are made into recycled material. Research needs to be done in order to determine the best places on campus to place the K-Cup recycling bins.Terracycle offers three separate sizes. The small and medium sized bins may be fitting for faculty members in a kitchen or office; whereas the large sized bins could be placed in dorms for the students to utilize. Marketing of the new recycling program will need to be done in order to educate the UIC community on the harms of K-Cups and how they can make a positive impact by taking advantage of the K-Cup recycling bins. Once the bins are full they are shipped back to Terracycle. Through this recycling initiative, we hope to reduce the total amount of waste produced by students and faculty at UIC.

-Shradda Shetty, Alyssa Hoffman, Helen Wong, & Cecilia Siragusa


Coffee Capsules – Zero Waste Box™


#22 Economic Costs of Climate Change Driven Natural disasters

I’m sure you’ve heard about all of the recent natural disasters in the news, but do you know exactly what is causing them and how costly they actually are?  The increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters is due to climate change.  Climate change effects the weather patterns, which may lead to droughts and forest fires, and warming temperatures allow for much larger storms to form.  The many disasters that have recently occurred such as hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, and forest fires in California have all costed us lots of money.  According to Patrick Marshall in a Congressional Quarterly article, “Last year was the costliest year ever for natural disasters, with $306 billion in total damage”(Marshall).  This is an alarming number and shows just how much of an impact that climate change has on our lives.  We are already having trouble dealing with the response and costs of these disasters and things will continue to get worse as climate change progresses.  This was evident especially in Puerto Rico, as an insufficient response caused people to go without their basic needs for far too long.  Our disaster response budget needs to be greatly increased, as it doesn’t consider the increase in natural disasters caused by climate change.  The costs of natural disasters are just one of the many reasons why taking action on climate change is very important.

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Marshall, Patrick. “Disaster Readiness.” CQ Researcher 28.2 : 48. CQ Researcher Online. Web. 2/11/2018.

Project #18 3D Printing Solar Cells

Alexandros Mpougas

Blog 2


Solar cell 3D printing is a future method of optimizing the use of the 3D printer, and using them for sustainable purpose, and with sustainable material. This video will overview the method of 3D printing solar cells based on recent research, the potentials of this technology if it was to accelerate, and the benefits or sustainability that this technology can bring to the world. Through some statistics of current 3D printer use, and the ability of this technology if integrated, the rates of adoption and possibility of it will be reviewed. The fast, simple, and efficient means of 3D printed solar films, once adopted by the public and small businesses, could lead to a very sustainable range of products and powered daily life. Through nuggets of information, images, and sourced video of the technology being utilized it can be understood and speculated upon.


Image of a cat being printed on a conventional FDM 3D printer


Prototypical 3D printed Solar Cell Panel


Simon. “Paper-Thin 3D Printed Solar Cells to Provide Affordable Electricity for Unlit Rural Areas.” 3ders.Org, 2015,

Gaget, Lucie. “3D Printed Solar Panels: Meet the Revolution.” 3D Printing Blog: Tutorials, News, Trends and Resources | Sculpteo, 4 Jan. 2014,

Fostering Sustainability through Community Currency – Group 7

     Community Currency sets out on the goal of making the world more sustainable through the monetary and economic system. Community currency is shows to be a grassroot innovation shows to be efficient in nature because it boosts sustainable development because it recognizes that natural resources are being depleted on an increasingly large scale by the economic system, while also fostering the well- being of society and stabilizing local run markets. By doing so, community currency seeks the engagement of local populations by utilizing a system that brings economic stability in which reinvents the way money flows in that community. The functionality of community currency detracts from the conventional monetary system in that physical money is not always readily available and puts individuals in debt due.

    The basic vision of sustainable development indicates that the decision we make should bear in mind the interconnection of the economic, social and environmental spheres. With the aim to realize these objectives, new economics organizations and academics attempt to create new institutions or parallel infrastructures that comprise more sustainable systems of production and consumption.

    The utilization of a community currency system exists in many forms and all over the world. Community currency can come in various forms such as service credits, mutual exchange, local currencies, and even a barter market. This video shows a visual conceptualization of the flow of a community currency and one of the many ways in fostering sustainable development through economic groundwork.  




Group 7 –

Mayra Rodriguez (Mayrod23)

Sean Hardin (shoryukenpizza)

Keaton Fisher (keatonfisher)



“Bristol Pound – Our City. Our Money..” N.p., 2018. Web. 4 Apr. 2018.

Douthwaite, R. J. Short Circuit: Strengthening Local Economies For Security In An Unstable World. Dublin, Ireland: Lilliput Press, 1996. Print.

Drew, Katherine Fischer, and Edward Peters. The Lombard Laws. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1973. Print.

Fisher, Walter K. “The Oldest Place Of Worship In The World.” The Scientific Monthly 2.6 (1916): 521-535. Web. 30 Mar. 2018.

Lietaer, Bernard A. The Future Of Money: Creating New Wealth, Work And A Wiser World. London: Century, 2001. Print.

Mellor, Mary. The Future Of Money. London: Pluto Press, 2010. Print.

Schaps, David M. The Invention Of Coinage And The Monetization Of Ancient Greece. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, 2004. Print.

“The Wörgl Experiment: Austria (1932-1933) | Currency Solutions For A Wiser World.” N.p., 2018. Web. 4 Apr. 2018.

Group 11, The stupidest problem the U.S faces

Food Waste

One of the greatest commodities that the United States has is food. The U.S. loves to consume food, debatable more than any other country. As a result, The American diet system has shifted from portion sizes and healthy eating to fatty foods and over eating. However, the issue being discussed isn’t about the food we eat nor is it about the American health system. The stupidest problem the United states faces today, is food waste.

Yes, food waste has become a major problem in the states- along with many others- but its an issue that shouldn’t really be an issue to begin with. To start, 40 percent of all the food in the U.S never gets eaten. Likewise, one in every eight American families struggle to provide food (NRDC). That’s insane! Its unbelievable to believe families in the States struggle to provide food when almost half of the worlds food is never getting eaten. Now, some may question as to why so much food isn’t being eaten, and that answer to that, falls in a lot variables. First, Humans are very paranoid about food labels and their dates, that Americans end up throwing away plenty amounts of food even when they are looking at the wrong date. A majority of Americans throw out food based on its sell by date, which is NOT a date of expiration, but a date that tells the retailer when the product should be sold. Furthermore, the food products that have expiration dates, may be perfectly fine as expiration dates are just an estimate as to when the producer or company believes its product would turn bad. However, the outcome towards this paranoia is multitudes of food being wasted, and this is just on of the many reasons why food is being wasted.

In my video, I explain the issues of food waste, and how it damages our environment; along with describing some solutions the U.S. can take as a whole to reduce and hopefully eliminate food waste.



Project 14: The Impact of Wind Turbines

The world is ever-changing, we are using natural resources more than ever before because of the rising global population and industrial mass production. This doesn’t mean that we are not trying to prevent further environmental harm. We are taking initiative in producing clean and renewable energy so that we will not always rely on nonrenewable natural resources that are vital for the preservation of wildlife and marine life. With this approach in alternative energy, future generations can continue to enjoy nature and live life normally instead of living in a potentially hazardous wasteland. In the past few decades, we’ve come up with ways to do this by using the environment around us; wind, water, solar, geothermal, etc., to generate energy. The changing society is also helping us shape way for the future. More attention in climate change will influence others to change the ways they do things, from turning off the running water when not in use to reusing plastic bags for grocery shopping, little things will eventually have a larger impact than we think.

Wind powered energy may seem like a suitable source of renewable energy but some things may be overlooked like the animals they harm, deforestation for their construction, and even the ways they affect homes nearby.  Searching for a renewable energy source should not justify any damage done to the environment and the animals. This awareness video will show some of the impacts of wind turbines and possible ways or technology that can be implemented to reduce the environmental impact they currently possess.