NORMAL – October 28, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today spoke at the sixth annual Sustainable Universities and Colleges Symposium at Heartland Community College. Administrators, professors, students, architects and engineers from across the state participated in the symposium to exchange ideas and develop sustainable practices.
“Innovation will help us build a stronger, greener future,” Governor Quinn said. “This symposium will help our colleges and universities come up with new ways to increase sustainability on campus, and it is an investment in our future workforce, as they learn more about the green sector and the jobs of today and tomorrow.”
The symposium - hosted by the Illinois Green Governments Coordinating Council, the Illinois Green Economy Network and Heartland Community College - featured workshops, panel and break out discussions, exhibits, and speakers who addressed topics such as sustainable transportation and green business techniques. Attendees could also participate in a tour of Heartland’s geothermal campus.
“The Town of Normal is extremely proud of the environmental initiatives being undertaken by our local colleges and universities,” said Mayor Chris Koos. “This symposium will allow our community to showcase these efforts and further learn from the many other Illinois institutions that share a commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation.”
The primary goal of the symposium is to enhance sustainability programs at Illinois’ universities and colleges. A student panel shared plans to raise funding for energy efficient campus improvements, to create green campus plans, and to initiate eco-friendly student action. Other panels presented information on urban agriculture and strategies to pursue green jobs in today’s tough economy.
The symposium included a breakfast and luncheon coordinated through the Edible Economy Project — a community initiative aimed at establishing a robust local food system in Central Illinois. In addition to featuring locally-sourced food, each of the meals were prepared by students in the culinary arts program at Normal Community West High School.
Also at the symposium, participants got the chance to test drive two electric vehicles (EVs): the Mitsubishi i and the Nissan LEAF. The town of Normal, which is providing the test drive cars, is the nation’s first EVTown and has a goal to own 1,000 EVs.
As part of his goal to make Illinois the EV capital of the U.S., Governor Quinn visited Bloomington last year and signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors North America to test their Mitsubishi i electric cars in Illinois’ state fleet. In February, Governor Quinn announced an initiative to boost Illinois’ sustainability efforts through the increased use of electric vehicles. Part of the plan included $1 million in state capital funding to install 280 state-of-the-art EV charging stations throughout the Chicagoland area.
In July, Governor Quinn signed two laws, one that created an Electric Vehicle Coordinator position within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and another that gave car sharing organizations the opportunity to receive funding for the purchase of EVs. As a result of the Quinn administration’s commitment to investing in green technology, the all-electric Nissan LEAF will arrive early in Illinois.
Governor Quinn has signed numerous executive orders and statutes into law to ensure greater energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, and protection of Illinois’ land, air and water resources. The symposium fulfilled the recently signed law, House Bill 166, which requires state universities to meet annually to enhance sustainable energy research. For more information please visit Green.Illinois.gov.