Sustainable Design on Campus

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

Siebel Center for Design

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.

Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE)

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.

Fresh Press Paper

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.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

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.

Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC)

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.

Sustainable Student Farm

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.

FAA 491: Special Problems in Sustainable Design

Are you interested in pursuing independent creative activity or research under the direction of a faculty member? James Dyson Award national winner and international top 20 finalist Gabe Tavas, an SD senior, continues to pursue his work on Pyrus, a petroleum-free wood-like material sustainably produced with repurposed bacterial cellulose waste from the kombucha industry.

Fab Lab

Biodesign Challenge

Biotechnology is spreading into every aspect of our lives—from our materials to our everyday products. Biodesign Challenge bridges art, design, and biotech to develop the first generation of professionals who cross disciplines, anticipate promises and pitfalls, and engage the public in dialogue about the broader implications of emerging biotech. Learn more about Biodesign Challenge and see the 2021 finalist team Symmetry Wood, featuring SD student Gabe Tavas.

Wege Prize

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.

EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

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.

Reimagine Our Sustainable Future Challenge

This 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.

Xuanshu Lin, SD junior and 2021 finalist for his project Prevention of Grass Carp Invasion, Lake Michigan

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