Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022–2024

Our research, technical assistance, and outreach programs are well-positioned to work together to address current and emerging environmental issues and promote sustainable practices.

Research Themes

ISTC’s researchers collaborated to develop strategic plan documents for each of ISTC’s major research themes. Each document contains details for specific research objectives over the next three years. These objectives are bolded in the descriptions below.


ISTC has an established record of investigating sustainable solutions in the energy sector. These solutions include biofuels, other renewable fuels, carbon capture, and wastewater to energy systems. In recent years, ISTC’s researchers have focused on decarbonizing the existing stable electric grid. One such effort is the Carbon Dioxide Utilization and Reduction Program (COOULR), which focuses on the removal of carbon dioxide from large point sources like power generation and cement manufacturing as well as direct removal of carbon dioxide from the air through systems like direct air capture (DAC) or carbon dioxide reduction (CDR). In addition, ISTC conducts research on carbon dioxide utilization and storage to create an end market for the captured carbon dioxide.


ISTC’s contaminants center focuses on investigating the occurrence, fate, transport, and mitigation of a wide range of emerging contaminants in the environment such as:

  • pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs);
  • per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS);
  • microplastics/nanoplastics;
  • agricultural chemicals;
  • pathogens; and
  • the co-occurrence of these and other contaminants.

ISTC’s primary focus is on microplastics (<5mm) and nanoplastics (<1µm) because they are pervasive in humans and the environment and it is not clear what impact they have on human health and the environment.

Waste Utilization

A circular economy uses a systems-focused approach that enables resources to be used to maintain their highest value for as long as possible and aims for the elimination of waste through better design of materials products, and systems. ISTC research contributes to this goal by focusing on major societal waste problems such as:

ISTC researchers evaluate ways to create value added products, such as alternative liquid fuels, industrial chemicals, or replacement for virgin materials, from these wastes.

  • waste plastics;
  • municipal solid waste;
  • coal fly ash;
  • waste fats, oils, and grease;
  • construction waste; and
  • biomass (forestry, ag, road maintenance).

Water Use & Reuse

Although three-fourths of the Earth is covered by water, less than 1% is available for human use. As the climate continues to change, demand for water will increase as water supplies shrink. With an eye towards solving major water infrastructure issues, ISTC researchers are working to reduce industrial process water consumption, create sustainable water infrastructure, recover valuable resources in wastewater, and increase water supply from previously in accessible sources.

Technical Assistance Initiatives

The Technical Assistance Program (TAP) primarily focuses on:

  • expanding its water efficiency and testing services,
  • growing the Zero Waste Program, and
  • working with organizations on resilient systems.

The program also targets assistance to specific manufacturing sectors to help them minimize or eliminate hazardous chemical usage, reduce pollutants in wastewater, improve manufacturing processes, eliminate waste, adopt energy efficiency opportunities, and install renewable energy equipment.

Major Services

  • Comprehensive assessments
  • Compliance assistance assessments
  • Energy efficiency
  • Fostering sustainable behavior
  • Implementation assistance
  • ISO 14000 audits
  • Pollution prevention (P2)
  • Process optimization
  • Resilient solutions (climate resiliency)
  • Stakeholder engagement and education
  • Supply chain sustainability
  • Sustainability planning
  • Water use assessment and benchmarking
  • Water testing and auditing
  • Waste characterization and management (zero waste)

Key Target Groups for the Next Two Years

  • Aerospace industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical industries
  • Food and beverage industry
  • Metal industry
  • Colleges and universities
  • Municipal water and wastewater treatment plants
  • Companies with supply chain sustainability initiatives
  • State owned facilities (Institutional Water Treatment Program)

A History of Strategic Thinking

ISTC has a track record of thinking strategically about global sustainability solutions. Review ISTC’s previous strategic plans in IDEALS.