#33 Preservation and Sustainability

Preservation isn’t about the past it’s about the future. It’s an urban planning tool all communities should use because the practice of preservation is deeply rooted in sustainability.  For decades to revitalize urban areas and remove so-called blight neighborhoods and commercial streetscapes have been bulldozed and reduced to rubble.  Existing structures are demolished daily to make way for new sustainable structures that are constructed with green, eco-friendly building materials.



Photo by Tom Bauer 


Out with the old and in with the new is a trend preservationist don’t support. They subscribe to the theory that the greenest building is the one that is already built and the National Park Service agrees.  Preservation of existing buildings is the more sustainable practice versus constructing new “green” buildings. Former Executive Director of the Global Heritage Fund, Vincent Michael said that “95% of historic preservation is adaptive re-use: bringing buildings into the present while retaining their embodied energy”.

The concept of embodied energy is useful when trying to understand why repurposing an existing building might make environmental sense contrasted with constructing a new, energy efficient building. Embodied energy equals the sum of all energy that is consumed in the process of developing a structure.  Older structures typically contain materials that are low on consumptive energy while new buildings are constructed with materials that are high on consumptive energy.

Preservation is sustainable development but not just from an environmental perspective; one must also consider the economics behind it.  Preservation stimulates the local economy, creates jobs, promotes heritage tourism, brings stability to the real estate market and keeps housing affordable. These items contribute to urban sustainability, and one could argue that if a re-urbanization plan doesn’t have a preservation component, then the plan isn’t sustainable.

This video will highlight the issues associated with razing existing structures to build new. The role older structures play in sustaining the urban environment. The institutions behind preservation, and show an example of a thriving urban area that used preservation as a tool to help stabilize and revitalize their community.







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

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFTfUJeQu8A

Simon. “Paper-Thin 3D Printed Solar Cells to Provide Affordable Electricity for Unlit Rural Areas.” 3ders.Org, 2015, http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150629-paper-thin-3d-printed-solar-cells-to-provide-affordable-electricity-for-unlit-rural-areas.html.

Gaget, Lucie. “3D Printed Solar Panels: Meet the Revolution.” 3D Printing Blog: Tutorials, News, Trends and Resources | Sculpteo, 4 Jan. 2014, http://www.sculpteo.com/blog/2018/01/24/3d-printed-solar-panels-meet-the-renewable-energy-revolution/.

19. Use Public Transit

mchrza4, emart28, bsolis4

In a society ruled by productivity, commuting can become one of the most essential parts of our day. From getting to work on time to making daily trips in a timely fashion, how we commute can have a huge impact on our lives. More so however, how we commute can have a huge impact on our environment. While jumping in your own car and driving wherever you need to go whenever you need to go there may be tempting, the negative impact you are having on the environment far outweighs the upsides of this individual approach to transportation. In this video, we will explore the problems with commuting by car and exactly why taking public forms of transportation is a far more environmentally responsible option.

 Featured is the various types of transportation Chicago has to offer including; the CTA’s intricate railways and plentiful bus routes as well as greener options such as Divvy bike stations and personal bike racks throughout the city and its perimeters. This is contrasted with overcrowded intersections, streets, and parking lots. Returning to the problem of excessive use of motor vehicles, we address the catastrophic outcomes of not changing our habits when compared to making a change. It’s made clear that driving simply isn’t a worthwhile option.

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Photos Sources:

Car Cat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3MsxbfLWdQ                                               Bike Cat – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/45739752437540675/
Train Cat – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/329536897714476223/

Info sources:

Motive International. “Divvy Stations.” Divvy Bikes, Motives International, 2016, http://www.divvybikes.com/how-it-works.

Chicago Transit Authority. “Facts at a Glance.” Transit Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority, 2018, http://www.transitchicago.com/facts/.

City of Chicago. “Chicago Data Portal.” City of Chicago, City of Chicago, 2018, data.cityofchicago.org/.

U.S. Census Bureau. “Community Characteristics by Sex.” American Fact Finder, Fact Finder, 2016, factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_16_5YR_S0801&prodType=table.

Petro, Michael J. “Chicago’s Most Dangerous ‘L’ Stops.” Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, 12 Feb. 2018, http://www.mjpetro.com/news/chicagos-dangerous-l-stops/.

Eder, Derek. “How Are People Getting to Work in Chicago?” Derek Eder, Derek Eder, 2017, derekeder.com/chicago_commute_modes/.

WLS. “CTA Adding 1,000 New Cameras, Improving Lighting at Stations as Part of Security Plan.” ABC7 Chicago, 27 Feb. 2018, abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-adding-1000-new-cameras-improving-lighting-at-stations-as-part-of-security-plan/3147154/.

Moovit. “Facts and Usage Statisticas about Public Transit in Chicago, IL, US.” Moovit App, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Lincense, 2018, moovitapp.com/insights/en/Moovit_Insights_Public_Transit_Index_US_Chicago_IL-81.

Elejalde-Ruiz, Alexia. “Habits Bad for the Environment.” Chicagotribune.com, 8 Feb. 2011, http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sns-gl-environment-enemies-story.html.

“Going Green | Environment.” CTA, www.transitchicago.com/environment/.

Emanuel, Rahm. “Rahm Emanuel: In Chicago, the Trains Actually Run on Time.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 July 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/opinion/rahm-emanuel-chicago-l-mass-transit.html.

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..” Bristolpound.org. 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.” Lietaer.com. 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.









24. A Self-Driving Road Ahead: Autonomous Cars and Society

Can you imagine buying a car to never drive it once? The concept of autonomous cars doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Over recent years, several automakers have been pushing the envelope for making autonomous vehicles an accessible product – along with the innovation of sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence.

This video provides a well-informed argument that autonomous cars that will soon be the standard in vehicle transportation. There are many benefits that come with autonomous vehicles, as well as electric vehicles. Safety has been the main concern, considering that most deaths in car accidents stem from human error – whether it’s from lack of concentration, texting, driving under the influence, and poor judgement decisions. Self-driving cars aim to saves lives over time, as well as help reduce carbon emissions in the process. Although this content is in favor of self-driving cars, we will also cover some of the challenges and possible negative effects that come with autonomous cars.

As our population continues to grow, our cities will continue to serve as hubs for economic opportunity. With the existing infrastructure in place, we must find solutions to the social issues of traffic congestion and inefficient use of vehicles. How can we use existing infrastructure and tailor it to support self-driving cars and the public? We must continue to support autonomous car research and work with lawmakers to ensure that future transportation solutions are regulated for safety and liability concerns.




Litman, Todd. “Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions Implications for Transport Planning .” Victoria Transport Policy Institute , 3 Mar. 2018, http://www.vtpi.org/avip.pdf.

An Assessment of Autonomous Vehicles: Traffic Impacts and Infrastructure Needs—Final Report. Center for Transportation Research, Mar. 2017, library.ctr.utexas.edu/ctr-publications/0-6847-1.pdf.

Startups, Requests for. “The Road Ahead: Autonomous Vehicles Startup Ecosystem.” Medium, The Mission, 7 Oct. 2016, medium.com/the-mission/the-road-ahead-autonomous-vehicles-startup-ecosystem-3c91d546673d.

Food Waste (2)

What you are about to watch are some of the main consequences behind the food waste we create. Although you may think you are doing the world a favor by eating organic foods or being vegetarian, there are still a wide array of problems that are being caused on a daily basis, no matter what diet you are following or where you shop.

The issues that affect us and our planet on a daily basis are: water pollution, plastic waste and GMO’s. How we produce food is unsustainable — farms create a substantial amount of waste, such as farm runoff, or nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution eventually ends up is in larger bodies of water like lakes and oceans, where it creates areas of low oxygen called dead zones. Within these zones, a low oxygen environment makes it too difficult for marine life to survive hence the term “deadzone”. Because Big Agriculture will not stop anytime soon, we must establish better farming practices, specifically, ways to manage farm runoff.

The use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have increased food production substantially. However, the use of GMOs has also caused health problems for entire populations. Politics and corporate interests are big leaders in misleading information on the effects GMOs have on consumers health. People believe GMO food production will help solve the problem to food scarcity with our growing population. Corporations also bring in more business, more product, more sales, more profit. GMOs can have an effect on our metabolisms. We do not know what we are consuming or the extent of how safe it is to eat. In order for politics and corporate companies to make advantages in the workplace they put consumer’s health at risk, it has become too common and unsafe for us.

Food does not come to us right off the tree or right from the ground onto our dishes. There is a long process of when these crops go from the fields, to processing plants, and then to the grocery stores and supermarkets we buy food from. All of this causes more and more plastics to get used, discarded, and wasted in the end. Not only do you have to take into consideration the plastic that is being wasted, but the overall food that does not get eaten and simply gets thrown out. It is estimated that about ⅓ of all food produced globally ends up in the garbage or unused. If we have a food scarcity problem on the horizons, we need to be more efficient with the food that is being produced and the plastics we use to package and ship it.

At the end of this video, you will see how all three of these factors come together to cause this massive problem of food waste. By taking each factor into account and trying to minimize and optimize it, we can make some massive strides in the effort to end food waste.

–  John Zajac, Iyana Simba, Maeve O’Donovan

Abdelradi, F. (2018). Food waste behaviour at the household level: A conceptual framework. Waste Management, 71, 485-493.

Bryant, L. (2015, April 9). How can we stop the spread of ocean dead zones? Retrieved from World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/04/how-can-we-stop-the-spread-of-ocean-dead-zones/

NOAA. (2018, February 11). What is a dead zone? Retrieved from NOAA.gov: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/deadzone.html

Shapiro, A., & Gringlas, S. (2017, June 28). Chesapeake Bay Dead Zones Are Fading, But Proposed EPA Cuts Threaten Success. Retrieved from National Public Radio: https://www.npr.org/2017/06/28/534539755/chesapeake-bay-dead-zones-are-fading-but-proposed-epa-cuts-threaten-success

U.S. EPA. (2018, April 1). The Sources and Solutions: Agriculture. Retrieved from United States Evironmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/sources-and-solutions-agriculture

Table, S. (2018 , February 2018). Industrial Crop Production. Retrieved from Grace Communications Foundation: http://www.sustainabletable.org/804/industrial-crop-production

Wendle, A. (2015, July 23). Illinois’ New Plan to Reduce Farm Runoff. Retrieved from Tri States Public Radio: http://tspr.org/post/illinois-new-plan-reduce-farm-runoff

Krimsky, Sheldon. “An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment.” Science, Technology, & Human Values, vol. 40, no. 6, July 2015, pp. 883–914., doi:10.1177/0162243915598381.

Vendômois, Joël Spiroux De, et al. “Debate on GMOs Health Risks after Statistical Findings in Regulatory Tests.” International Journal of Biological Sciences, 2010, pp. 590–598., doi:10.7150/ijbs.6.590.

Yang, Y. Tony, and Brian Chen. “Governing GMOs in the USA: Science, Law and Public Health.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 96, no. 6, 2015, pp. 1851–1855., doi:10.1002/jsfa.7523.