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EPA awards two University of Illinois System institutions nearly $200,000 to support innovative approaches to source reduction

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Ben Weiss (

CHICAGO (November 5, 2020) - Today, on the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Source Reduction Assistance (SRA) grants to two institutions in the University of Illinois system. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will receive $99,168 and the University of Illinois at Chicago will receive $95,000 to support innovative, cost-effective, replicable source reduction approaches to save energy and water, reduce pollution, and improve public health.

“Source reduction practices and efficiency improvements are two ways that industries and businesses, like those reached through these grants, can help mitigate impacts to the environment,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “EPA applauds the universities for their innovative approaches to help industries in Illinois control pollution before it enters the environment while improving cost-effectiveness.”

Eleven organizations across nine states were selected to receive $1.16 million in grant funding to support pollution prevention activities. EPA’s individual SRA grant awards range from $43,000 to $174,000 for a two-year funding period. For these grants, EPA prioritized funding for projects that support research, education, and/or training of innovative source reduction techniques. The grantees will document and share source reduction best practices that are identified and developed through these grants so that others can replicate these practices and outcomes.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center – part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will use this funding to provide on-site pollution prevention technical assistance through training, education, and investigation of innovation techniques to twelve Illinois food and beverage, chemical, and automotive manufacturers and maintenance facilities. The project aims to increase water conservation and reduce energy, hazardous inputs and wastes, emissions, and business costs at participating facilities.

“This EPA support will enable our technical assistance staff to continue helping Illinois companies minimize waste, improve energy efficiency, reduce negative environmental impacts, and improve their bottom line,” said Debra Jacobson, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center associate director.

University of Illinois at Chicago along with partnering organizations will provide both technical and educational assistance to Illinois food and beverage, chemical, and metal manufacturing facilities. The project will utilize EPA’s P2 best practices and tools to conduct technical assessments of facilities and provide training webinars to partner organizations and university-level student engineers. Innovative measures and best practices to reduce pollution and increase efficiency will be created and shared.

"The University of Illinois at Chicago is excited for the opportunity to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of its Source Reduction Assistance Grant,” said Patrick Brown, Senior Engineer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Energy Resources Center. “The awarded grant will provide technical assistance to food processing, metal manufacturing, and chemical manufacturing facilities throughout the state of Illinois with the goal to provide a cleaner and healthier environment through the reduction of source emissions. The program will partner with a number of state agencies and organizations and will provide exciting training opportunities for university-level student engineers."

Since the inception of the program in 2003, EPA has awarded SRA grants to state, local, and tribal government entities; non-profits; and university partners to work directly with U.S. businesses to develop and implement source reduction techniques. For instance, the University of Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, using FY16-17 SRA grant funds provided technical assistance to 45 businesses in Minneapolis to reduce air pollution in surrounding neighborhoods and cut electricity expenses. In addition, seven participating companies switched to environmentally safer chemical alternatives in their sanitization and disinfection processes.

Read more about the Source Reduction Assistance (SRA) Grant Program and about the individual projects.