Illinois Sustainability Award 2016 Winners Tribute

Illinois Sustainability Award  2016 Winners Tribute


Geneseo is a community in northwest
Illinois just east of the Quad Cities. We have 6,500 people living
here in a small rural area. We have a lot of exciting things, a very vibrant downtown in a small
community that’s very proud of itself, and the efforts that we make that
are very future focused. I grew up here,
I’m a third generation in Geneseo. So It’s just a wonderful community because
we have such unique little shops in the downtown area, we have a historic
downtown with Victorian architecture. Restaurants, we have two new brew
pubs in town, and there’s just, there’s so much to do here in the small
little town but it’s also very community oriented a very safe community
with a great school district. Our rates in the city of Geneseo
are some of the lowest state. We credit it to having renewable
energy behind the meter generation, when we’re not paying transmission
costs and not paying fuel for that, it helps keep the rates
down in our city, our community. We really try to be green-focused with the
energy efforts that we’ve made here and are proud of- the things that we’ve done
in the electric utility in various parts of the city to make sure that we’re really
thinking about a sustainable future for, not only our community, but
all of Illinois and the United States. In 2015 we were lucky enough to receive $1 million dollars from the Illinois
Clean Energy Community Foundation. We were very thankful for that in this project would not have
been possible without that money. The City Council did approve
a $1.5 million dollar loan as we continue to work towards
that green energy goal. The people that actually did
the construction work (was) community business right here in Geneseo, and
that made it even more special, that the people that were working on
the project live right here in Geneseo and could take pride in such,
a such a great project for our community. Renewable energy is a great thing. This is the way to go. When you’re not paying for
transmission costs and no fuel cost, and its in your backyard,
you know what it is. It’s distributed generation it’s, it’s
there, it’s on your side of the meter, it’s a great, great thing. If we don’t like the price of the power
that’s on the market that day we start our generators up. With our wind, solar, if the power
is cheaper by us producing it, we’ll produce it (cheaper) than we
do when we buy it on the market. One of the things as Mayor, what was
important to me was that we brought the community together to help
build our future together. And so we’ve created a collaboration
team with the School District, the Park District, the Chamber of
Commerce, and just local businesses, and together created a new city logo
that brought all of us together. It includes a sunrise and a path that feeds into that
tagline “Where the Future Grows.”. And it kind of goes in line
with where we are going, that we’re always the future focused and
making sure that we stay green, and that we’re, we are doing what we can for
the environment, for the earth. That says this is who we are,
this is Geneseo. Sustainability I think goes hand
in hand with the museum’s mission. Our mission is really about educating, it’s about preserving the past,
discovery, and making a better future. So all of these things
are relevant to sustainability. Sustainability is all about learning how
to coexist with the world around us, so that we are not putting ourselves
in a position where our children and our children’s children
are having a bleaker future. One of the great things about being in
a historic building, a landmark building, is that the building is beautiful,
the building was built to last. One of the downsides of being in
a historic landmark building is it means you can’t really
change the envelope. Because the envelope has been dictated
to be aesthetically important for cultural reasons, heritage reasons,
and you can’t change it. Renewable energy becomes that lovely sweet
spot, at a place like the Field Museum, where you’re able to take things
like solar power and say- solar power has got sort of a high upfront
capital investment that’s required, and it pays off over many, many years. But at a place like the Field Museum, we
know this building isn’t going anywhere it makes all the sense in the world to
integrate renewable energy into our building in our operations
as much as possible. What we’re looking at is two house
chillers, 750 tonnes a piece; on this side there ice makers,
1,300-ton Trane units. During the day we’ll start burning
the ice that we made the night before, when the electric rates
are lower from ComEd. We use the bulk of our electricity
on the off peak hours. It is important to control temperature and
humidity for these artifacts. There are certain areas where
there’s artifacts stored, could be a mummy, could be a dinosaur
bone, or some ancient canoe. These artifacts require
certain temperature and humidity control, and
it’s a pretty tight parameter. It’s like plus or
minus five percent humidity, and it would be plus or minus two degrees. They’re taking care of just that box
itself, maybe it’s a size a refrigerator. And that air is developed in a machine where it’s all
temperature controlled with the water. So it actually changes the dew
point of the air that is forced through a blower, into that case,
through a little tubing. And it could be many cases in
one of the exhibit halls that are set up to run off of
micro-climate machines. So the green team would meet once a month
and say how do we green this place. How do we figure out ways
to be more efficient? How do we figure out
ways to eliminate waste? We struggled a lot with
the restaurants at the time. The restaurants, it took me years to
figure this out, but they were about 50 percent of our waste stream, because
there was a lot of sort of a take-out… Just sort of, a lot of packaging. We got a lot of stakeholders together that
felt the same way, and Megan Williams, who is now our director
of business enterprises, received sort of oversight over
the restaurants and she was like yes! She’s like, I’m going to take this and
we’re going to do like a real R.F.P. and we’re going to weave
sustainability into the restaurants, and we’re going to make it
what everybody who eats here experiences as part of
their trip to the Field Museum. Now we’ve got our 68-point
Sustainability Program, we started this process
in probably 2010 or 2011, it took four years, start to finish,
to actually make it happen. We promote sustainability
here in the restaurants, with accordance to a guidebook
that is given to us by the museum. Everything is compostable; all, everything that you get all your food on
is all compostable, it goes in compost. We have a process that is landfill,
compostable, and recycling. And all that is weighed by our
employees on a day-to-day basis, just promoting a healthier
program here at the Museum. I think the biggest difficulty is having
such a large group of people coming in. I know the museum has over
a million people a year that visit. I think our biggest obstacle
is getting the story out, and getting the message out on how to
exactly do the waste properly. We have three waste areas to tell the
story of what they have and everything, so we try to tell the story of the pictures
and things like that by the garbage so that they know this goes here, this goes
here, and then everything else goes in the waste, which is minimal
as much as we can at least. We actually divert, here at the museum,
74 percent of our waste. That is, you know, three out of every four
pounds is diverted to either recycling, cardboard, or compost, with the majority
of that actually being compost. So very little actual waste
goes out from the Museum. Now biofuels is important on so
many levels, but for our industry,
it’s really is a game-changer. We don’t have other opportunities to
reduce our footprint as significantly. We’ve done all this great
work on fuel efficiency, increasing our fuel efficiency
by 40 percent since 1991. But you just can’t get as far as you want
to go without really making changes. We use four billion gallons
of jet fuel each year, and fuel is a fantastic opportunity for
us, not only in and reducing our environmental footprint,
but also in improving costs. United is actually a leader
in aviation biofuels. We are the only U.S. airline currently
flying on biofuels, so in March of 2016 we launched biofuel flights out
of Los Angeles International Airport from a refinery located about 20 miles to
the east of L.A.X., the Altair facility. Altair uses agricultural waste
products to convert into jet fuel, which is then mixed with our
traditional jet fuel to fly. Altair’s renewable jet fuel
emits an estimated less than 60 percent of the greenhouse gases
from production to combustion, compared to conventional jet fuels. That is a win for
the people of California, and the world. They did not have to do this;
they took the initiative. And they’re going to lead, and
be an example for others, and for that I’m very grateful. And thank you United Airlines you are
making the skies a whole lot friendlier. In 2015 we invested $30 million
dollars in Fulcrum Bioenergy, and with that relationship is the opportunity
to co-develop about up to five bio-refineries. Their feed stock is municipal solid waste,
so not only are you decreasing
carbon on a life cycle basis, but you are also helping to solve
a problem that we have around wastes. Biofuel is our best solution to date
to reduce our carbon footprint. Also with Fulcrum Bioenergy, we’re reducing the methane emissions
that could be done in a landfill. The United eco-skies program has four
pillars that we focus on: fuel efficiency, alternative biofuels,
our sustainable supply chain, and working with our partners. One of the outreach initiatives
that United took was working with Columbia College School
of Fashion here in Chicago. We had fashion students compete in the
design competition to up-cycle materials, and we were taking United’s waste from old
advertising materials that once hung in O’Hare Airport,
to turn those into travel bags. So we are educating our employees,
we are educating the students, all about our own waste footprint, as well
as the waste of the fashion industry. Our fuel efficiency program is one
of the leading in our industry. We have almost 200 aircraft
on order right now, and those aircraft are expected to have a 15
to 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency. And we were the launch partner for the split scimitar winglet which
further increases fuel efficiency. One of the initiatives that we launched in
2016 was working with Clean the World to recycle our amenity kits. So these are kits that are first, or business class customer would
receive on an international flight. Oftentimes many of these items are open
but then left behind in the aircraft. So United was the first airline to work
with Clean the World to collect those unused items and recycle them. Clean the World takes those materials and
repurposes is them for hygiene kits that they distribute to
homeless shelters, veterans groups, women’s organizations, as well as
international aid organizations. You know I think that clean energy and
looking forward and being sustainable often times can be a challenge as a
community leader, looking towards helping your residents understand why looking
forward and spending money today. Because often times what you see is that
you’ve convinced the city council why it makes sense to really commit to not
taking resources out of the Earth, and taking those and
making them more renewable resources. But often times a community might see
that upfront cost, so it’s really just, one by one, explaining to residents
that this is our commitment, and that sometimes those commitments
to our future do cost money, and that those are really the reasons
that we do those things. Winning the Illinois Sustainability Award
is really huge deal because it takes all of the people here that have done a lot of
work that previously was not terribly well known and it gives us that wonderful
external validation that it’s meaningful. All of this LEED stuff isn’t just jumping
through hoops, no this is this is really something that the whole world values, the
whole state valuers, that allowed us to get everybody in the institution to
understand why this is important. But there are some ways that you know
we’ve figured out how to connect it with the mission, and that is what gets things
up on the wall, and gets it to stick. Especially for the institutional
advancement folks I think even, it makes their job so much easier to raise
money for what we call the ‘nuts and bolts,’ which is really hard at a place
like this, because what everybody really likes to fund and support is like
the super splashy fun science. They want to fund that guy who’s
going to discover dinosaurs and unknown civilizations,
because of course who wouldn’t. It’s a little harder to explain why
our energy bill is large as it is, and it’s because that stuff comes back here
and we need to take care of it- forever. It’s connected a thousand
dots across the institution. These are words mean a lot to United in
recognition for the work that we’re doing. What is also important is to recognize
what a great community there is in the state of Illinois,
of other companies and governments that are committed
to the environment. So I think one of the biggest benefits of
this award is meeting those others and recognizing what they have done and that we are part of a broader
fabric here in Illinois.

One thought on “Illinois Sustainability Award 2016 Winners Tribute

  1. Congratulations to all of the 2017 winners of the Illinois Sustainability Award! See the complete list here: https://www.istc.illinois.edu/cms/One.aspx?portalId=427487&pageId=751339

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