The timely nature and far-reaching importance of environmental sustainability presents opportunities for the University to make broad contributions through research, local action, and intellectual impact on a global scale. Through the work of researchers and students, the University is building understanding about the world’s resource consumption, its diverse effects on the environment, and ways of responding effectively. The distinctive education that students receive at the University equips them to tackle a wide range of environmental challenges. At the same time, the University is working to utilize its research and community of experts to evaluate its own resource use and understand options for reducing it.
The University makes significant impact on energy and environmental challenges through its faculty research, and we are committing resources to increase that impact. Work across the University and its affiliates explore everything from basic scientific research on energy, climate, and the environment, to economic and policy analysis.
The Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC) develops approaches to meet the world’s energy needs while limiting environmental and social damages. In 2014 EPIC partnered with regulators in the Indian state of Gujarat to reform environmental regulations that allowed third-party auditors to be chosen and paid by the firms that they audit, potentially creating a conflict of interest. The reforms reduced pollution by 28 percent.
The Computation Institute builds powerful new computational tools and programs used for climate research and data analysis.
The Institute for Molecular Engineering’s Water Research Initiative investigates many aspects of water use, including novel purification methods, efficient use in agriculture, and optimal power usage in water treatment and distribution.
The Abrams Environmental Law Clinic works on behalf of clients to solve some of the most pressing environmental problems throughout Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the Great Lakes region.
The Energy and Environment Lab identifies and tests ways to improve energy reliability and efficiency while reducing environmental damages to our health and climate. They have announced a $650,000 challenge grant designed to help low income houses increase their energy efficiency and a $300,000 challenge grant for energy and environmental policy interventions in India.
Two of the University’s affiliated laboratories are breaking ground in crucial areas of environmental sustainability. Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s preeminent research institutions, working in such areas as batteries and energy storage, renewable energy, atmospheric and climate science, and environmental security and restoration. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, researchers explore fundamental biology, understanding biodiversity and the environment, and informing the human condition through research and education.
- Argonne-based Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a consortium of five national laboratories, five universities, and four private sector partners are working to create batteries for transportation and the electricity grid with five times the energy density of today’s batteries at one-fifth the cost by 2018.
- Technology developed at Argonne is licensed by General Motors for use in the Chevy Volt. This technology increased the energy capacity of the car’s battery, giving the Volt an EPA-estimated range of more than 350 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas.
- The Marine Biological Laboratory conducts research on sustainability and climate change through efforts that include its Ecosystems Center, which examines ecosystems processes, biogeochemistry, and the role of global marine systems in climate change.