Sustainable Design on Campus

Design for Kickapoo State Park by Saloni Sheth

Our campus hosts centers, competitions, groups, and registered student organizations that can extend your network of designers and creative thinkers.

We believe in using Design Thinking as an approach to promote Human-Centered Design (HCD) and mandated quick iterations. We also aim to foster multidisciplinary collaborations across campus. We want to show you that design is EVERYWHERE—not just in products or art. Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design allow you, the designer, to better understand who it is you are designing for, regardless of what it is you may be designing.

The institute is purposed to find solutions for the ever-growing demand for food, water, and energy while ensuring a safe, productive, and sustainable environment for all global citizens. Our three-pronged approach—research, campus sustainability, and education and outreach—was created to do just that. We want also to be the "front porch" for all sorts of sustainability resources for campus and community members. The overarching goal: to become a global model of sustainability by creating effective, positive change.

At Fresh Press, we explore and enact the potential of regional sustainable agricultural fiber waste as paper and paper products. We make our handmade artisanal paper using seasonal agricultural fibers in Champaign, Illinois. We aim to change the paper supply chain from forest to farm.

Our mission is to encourage and assist citizens, businesses, and government agencies to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and reduce waste to protect human health and the environment of Illinois and beyond. ISTC integrates applied research, technical assistance, and information services to advance efforts in the areas of pollution prevention; water and energy conservation; and materials recycling and beneficial reuse.

SEDAC is an applied research program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, housed in the Department of Landscape Architecture. SEDAC is a public-private partnership that operates in collaboration with the 360 Energy Group. SEDAC's mission is to reduce the energy footprint of the State of Illinois and beyond. SEDAC provides effective energy efficiency strategies for buildings and communities through a variety of services. 

The farm is a hands-on learning environment for low-input, environmental and economically sustainable food production and features solar panels to supply energy to much of the farm, as well as an electric tractor. Internships and volunteer opportunities will expand your horticultural skills, developing applied skills in design, engineering, and marketing.

Wege Prize is an annual competition that ignites game-changing solutions for the future by inspiring college/university students around the world to collaborate across institutional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries to redesign the way economies work. Each team must leverage its transdisciplinary makeup to collaboratively design and propose a product, service, business/nonprofit organization, or other solution to a wicked problem that can help us transition from a linear economic model to a circular economic model. Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. Participants contend for over $30,000 (USD) in total cash prizes, all while helping to show the world what the future of problem solving looks like.

Win $2000, network with industry professionals, and remake a space on your very own campus! Here’s how it works: each school chooses an informal space to be refurnished and accepts designs from student teams. The best proposal from each school will be judged in a national competition, and the top three teams win a trip to Herman Miller headquarters. Over the course of two days at the Herman Miller office, teams will refine their proposals with help from industry professionals and pitch their ideas to a panel of design experts. The winning team receives a $2000 cash prize and their proposal will be funded and built on their campus.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition for American colleges and universities that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management techniques, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices. A University of Illinois team won this challenge in 2017. Art Schmidt is willing to serve as faculty mentor and can coordinate interested students from all disciplines.

For fall 2021, a new campus-wide sustainability competition invites Illinois undergraduates to submit proposals. Participants will develop a plan promoting at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to help improve society and the future of the planet. The solution could be a concept, product, business plan, event, social media platform, app, game, or organization. The top prize is $2000.