SUST Program Looks Back at 2015

Today’s post on the SUST at RU Blog, the official voice of Roosevelt’s Sustainability Studies undergraduate program, is a review of 2015’s events, accomplishments, and projects. Several of these had a positive impact on RU’s Schaumburg Campus, including the work done by SUST majors Mary Rasic and Sarah Tag (BA ’15) on the RU Community Garden, which finished its 4th growing season; and on the comprehensive tree-tagging project of the campus arboretum that took place last fall.

Other new developments on this website include dozens of posts and research essays from students in SUST 210 Sustainable Future and 240 Waste classes in 2015, plus a notable expansion of the Environmental Justice section of our site. SUST senior Tiffany Mucci began work as Assistant Editor of Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future this past fall and will continue her work throughout the Spring 2016 semester on expanding this community-focused EJ project.

Thanks to all in the Schaumburg community who’ve supported the SUST Program since its inception in 2010. Here’s to a fun and productive 2016!

Posted in Education, News, People, Roosevelt, Schaumburg Campus, Students, Sustainability, Uncategorized

Planned Renaissance for RU’s Schaumburg Campus

One year after former RU president Chuck Middleton announced program cuts and facility contractions at the university’s Schaumburg Campus (est. 1996), Roosevelt’s new president, Dr. Ali Malekzadeh, articulated bold plans to renew, expand, and reinvigorate the campus and reclaim RU’s place as the leading university presence in Chicago’s busy northwest suburbs.

Details are in the 21 Oct 2015 Daily Herald  article by Eric Peterson as well as the accompanying editorial, which signals enthusiasm in Schaumburg and its surrounding communities for Ali’s plans.

Restored prairie along the detention pond at RU's Schaumburg Campus (S. Tag, Aug 2015)

Restored prairie along the detention pond at RU’s Schaumburg Campus (S. Tag, Aug 2015)

Posted in Education, News, Roosevelt, Schaumburg, Schaumburg Campus

Cultivating RU’s Schaumburg Campus: SUST Senior Sarah Tag Recaps Her Summer Internship

During the summer of 2015, several Roosevelt University students majoring in Sustainability Studies have been doing internships or pursuing study abroad opportunities in various locales around the world, from Chicago to Hawaii and from Schaumburg to Scandinavia. We’ve invited them to write up reports from the field on their activities, adventures, and advocacy work in the service of environmental conservation, sustainable development, and social justice.

This post is from Sarah Tag, a senior SUST major, has been managing the RU Community Garden and working this summer and fall at RU’s Schaumburg Campus on a wide variety of sustainability projects.

A tagged tree at RU's Schaumburg Campus, Fall 2015 (photo: S. Tag)

A tagged tree at RU’s Schaumburg Campus, Fall 2015 (photo: S. Tag)

One of the most exciting projects that I have had the opportunity to work on for my environmental sustainability internship this summer is tree tagging. Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg campus is a certified arboretum, and we work hard to maintain accreditation. As part of our efforts, we are labeling every tree on campus with a round numbered aluminum tag.

Tree tagging is significant because it communicates the importance of trees to the local community. Trees benefit us in so many ways, and our Schaumburg campus tree community is a major part of our sustainable landscape. Trees filter air pollutants, thus enhancing and preserving air quality. They reduce erosion and sedimentation, which helps to stabilize the soil. They provide wind breaking and shade effects, which reduces energy consumption. They provide nesting areas for birds and other wildlife, which help control insects. They reduce stormwater runoff, and thus replenish groundwater supplies. Finally, they reduce the spread of noise. These benefits are gained not just by those visiting the Schaumburg campus, but also for those living in and visiting the village of Schaumburg.

There are over 400 trees on campus in Schaumburg, including 13 young fruit trees that were planted earlier this year to make up our edible forest. Every one of these trees is accounted for, with a number on a map that was created long before I began my work here. As we work our way through the campus tagging the trees, we need to follow this map every step of the way. The task is far from complete. We expect to have some help with this task, though. A local Boy Scout troop will be joining us in October to help finish this enormous project. It will be a very proud day when each of these trees’ numbers is displayed for students, faculty, and visitors of the university to see!

Submitted by Sarah Tag on 15 Sept 2015

Posted in Agriculture, Biodiversity, Conservation, Education, Landscaping, Roosevelt, Schaumburg, Schaumburg Campus, Students, Sustainability

Cultivating Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus: SUST Senior Sarah Tag Reports on Her Summer Internship at RU

During the summer of 2015, several Roosevelt University students majoring in Sustainability Studies have been doing internships or pursuing study abroad opportunities in various locales around the world, from Chicago to Hawaii and from Schaumburg to Scandinavia. We’ve invited them to write up reports from the field on their activities, adventures, and advocacy work in the service of environmental conservation, sustainable development, and social justice.

This post is from Sarah Tag, a senior SUST major who is working this summer and fall as RU’s Schaumburg Campus on a wide variety of sustainability projects.

Restored prairie along the detention pond at RU's Schaumburg Campus (S. Tag, Aug 2015)

Restored prairie along the detention pond at RU’s Schaumburg Campus (S. Tag, Aug 2015)

This summer, I have had the privilege of working as Roosevelt University’s environmental sustainability student associate for the Schaumburg campus. The tasks for this position are varied, but among my most important responsibilities are monitoring and maintaining the community garden, as well as keeping an eye on things through the tall grasses and flowers of the prairie walk.

As part of monitoring and maintaining the community garden I am often checking and double checking our automatic irrigation system and making adjustments, checking the rain barrel to make sure it is full and functioning, weeding, laying wood chips, taking pictures of the flora and fauna, and regularly corresponding with gardeners to answer questions and resolve any issues.

Generally things run fairly smoothly, although the job is not without its challenges.  One of my toughest issues arose when I had just begun my position in Schaumburg, and spotted a tick while working on one of the irrigation heads.  I then took it upon myself to minimize the issue:  I did some research on the CDC website, and sent an update to the community gardeners with helpful tips.  I also worked with the landscaper to have the tall grasses that abut the community gardens cut back a bit, leaving a buffer zone between them.  Then I did the really heavy lifting.  I spent numerous hot days loading a wheelbarrow full of wood chips (from trees that were cut on campus), pushing them over to the garden area, laying them down, and spreading them neatly.  Wood chips not only deter weeds, but also discourage ticks.

Schaumburg's wild fauna (S. Tag, Aug 2015

Schaumburg’s wild fauna (S. Tag, Aug 2015

When I say the job is a privilege, however, it is no exaggeration.  I have walked through  the prairie walk on so many days and said to myself, “Is this really my job?!  I am so lucky!”  One of my favorite things to hear when I get out there is the song of the goldfinches flying above me.  I can identify them without even looking up above my head now, and I grin every time.  I know their dip-swoop pattern of flying and their fluttery song well.  I have seen and heard other animals and critters too, even a toad.  From the exotic to the mundane, every day on this job has been an adventure.​

Submitted by Sarah Tag on 26 Aug 2015

Posted in Agriculture, Biodiversity, Conservation, Education, Food, Gardening, Landscaping, Roosevelt, Schaumburg, Schaumburg Campus, Students, Sustainability | 1 Comment

RU Wins State of IL Grant to Conserve Energy and Save Money

RU's Schaumburg Campus (photo: M. Radeck)

RU’s Schaumburg Campus (photo: M. Radeck)

Roosevelt University was awarded a grant in April 2015 that was applied toward upgrading the energy efficiency  lighting systems for its National Historic Landmark Auditorium Building at the Chicago Campus as well as for the entire Schaumburg Campus facility. The grant was made by the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation. It not only enables Roosevelt to take another stride toward energy efficiency and environmental awareness; it also helps the University reduce the cost of its monthly electricity bill.

Installation of the systems was completed last month and we are looking forward to seeing what our savings will total. At the Schaumburg Campus alone, estimated cost reduction could total $13,600 annually. The university expects to save 169,681 kilowatts hours of electricity through the grant program.

For more information on this and other RU sustainability initiatives, contact Rebecca Quesnell, Environmental Sustainability Student Associate (rquesnell@roosevelt.edu).

Posted in Climate Change, Conservation, Economics, Energy, News, Roosevelt, Schaumburg Campus, Sustainability

Illinois’ New Clean Energy Bill

by Jim Lockafeer for SUST 240

A wind farm in rural McLean County, Illinois (Photo by Tim Lindenbaum via Creative Commons)

A wind farm in rural McLean County, Illinois (Photo by Tim Lindenbaum via Creative Commons)

Clean energy is very important when it comes to lessening our impact on the planet. It can generally be defined as an extremely wide variety of technologies and techniques that help to conserve and create energy. Clean energy is becoming more and more recognizable here in Illinois with things like solar panels and wind turbines in use all across the state.

A few months ago, back in the middle of February, Illinois legislators introduced what has been referred to as a “groundbreaking” clean energy bill. The bill’s goal is to increase the states renewable energy standard by requiring 35 percent of energy consumed in Illinois to be generated by clean renewable sources by 2030. Currently the standard calls for 25 percent by 2025, and experts were worried the state would not meet these goals because of issues with how the standard is currently structured. The bill also calls for raising the state’s energy efficiency standard with 20 percent energy use reductions by 2025 and proposes a market-based strategy to reduce carbon emissions from power plants to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

Photo: Forbes

Photo: Forbes

Back when this bill was first introduced, it was sponsored by two Illinois State Senators and was largely supported by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of 26 organizations and 33 businesses. At the latest forum to discuss the bill (April 9th, 2015) it was officially backed and cosponsored by 39 representatives and 19 senators. The bill gained support not only for its expected effect on reducing pollution, but also because many of its supporters see it as a way to create jobs. In fact, according to the Daily Herald the bill has potential to create 32,000 new jobs here in Illinois. Clean jobs in Illinois have been growing rapidly, with around 40 percent of firms in the clean energy field adding workers in 2014. With this clean energy bill (hopefully) going into effect, expect that number to jump even higher in the near future.

It is great to see Illinois taking clean energy seriously. People are expecting big things from this bill, as expressed by State Representative Rita Mayfield (60th District), who is cosponsoring the legislation and has gone on the record stating, “This bill will create thousands of new jobs in the clean energy industries, it will save consumers money on their electric bills, and it will deliver huge public health benefits by reducing dangerous carbon pollution.” It certainly is going to be very interesting in the years to come to see how this bill plays out.

Each week during the Fall 2014 / Spring 2015 semesters, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 240 Waste classes at Roosevelt University contribute blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

Posted in Climate Change, Conservation, Economics, Energy, News, Planning, Students, Sustainability

Kicking the “Paper or Plastic?” Habit through Reusable Bag Legislation in Chicago and Its Suburbs

by Danielle LaBella for SUST 240

Making everyday habits more sustainable is becoming a national trend, and larger cities are setting the standard. The dispute involving paper-versus-plastic-versus-reusable bags has been going on for years among the public as well as in municipal governments. In April 2014 here in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and his team voted overwhelmingly in favor of a partial ban on plastic bags. By August 2015, retailers in the City of Chicago larger than 10,000 square feet will be required to eliminate use of plastic bags, or they will suffer a fine of $300-$500 per violation. Small independent and non-franchise stores will be unaffected at first, but will have to follow suit by August 2016.

LaBella 240 blog image3

Chicago’s logo to encourage reusable bag use

 

Activists living in Schaumburg feel their city should be leading the reusable bag movement, stopping the nonsensical paper-versus-plastic choice given to customers at retail establishments. After the ban idea was shut down by Schaumburg officials, activists wrote a counter-proposal to charge consumers $.10 per paper or plastic bag. There is hope that reinforcing reusable bags by punishing bad habits could be proactive steps in their movement. However, Schaumburg officials have decided to wait for the outcomes of the Chicago plastic bag ban before they initiate action.

Schaumburg Trustee Marge Connolly claims the winding and sometimes hard to recognize Schaumburg borders with its many neighboring suburbs will create confusion for consumers in regards to where they will need to use reusable bags, and could furthermore create a competitive disadvantage for Schaumburg businesses. Activists disagree with this reasoning, as cities such as Evanston are instituting the same law as Chicago in August; and like Schaumburg, Evanston borders not just the city but other suburban communities. Moreover, Schaumburg retail locations such as Whole Foods Market, Aldi, and Ikea are already following the reusable bag trend. Time will soon tell how Chicago’s and Evanston’s legislation will affect future suburbs’ actions.

Studies suggest that effectiveness of reusable bags depends on the material and number of times it’s used. Click here to read more about this debate, and how reusable bags contribute to waste reduction and are thus a small but helpful contribution to a sustainable future.

LaBella 240 blog image1My boyfriend and I recently ordered take-out at a restaurant in Chinatown called Joy Yee Noodle. To my shock, our food came in a reusable bag! I have never experienced this before, and I was greatly impressed by this initiative. We have now used this bag many times, perhaps out of appreciation towards this effort. We soon discovered their original location is in Evanston. Having locations in areas with a soon-to-be partial plastic bag ban may have propelled this inspiring kick-start.

Even Chicago high school art students have been recently involved. They were encouraged to participate in the 2015 Chicago Farmer’s Market reusable bag design contest. Plans like these help educate people on new lifestyle habits that are necessary for a sustainable future. To find out more about current campaigns and ways you can help, click here!

LaBella 240 blog image2

During the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 240 Waste classes at Roosevelt University contribute blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

Posted in Business, Chicago, Education, Recycling, Schaumburg, Students, Sustainability, Waste