The Illinois Sustainability Awards 2017 Winners

Evaluation Criteria

To best evaluate your application, and to help our applicants understand what information we are seeking from potential Awardees, ISTC has created the following criteria. Utilize this information to evaluate your own application prior to submission to ensure your application can answer the questions listed below.

Remember, activities submitted must have been completed or have shown substantial progress by December 31, 2016. We will not take 2017, or future projects, into consideration when reviewing your application.

The Process

Application evaluations take place in June and July of each calendar year. A committee of evaluators within the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) review your application with the criteria listed below. Evaluator expertise is taken into account when applications are being assigned. Therefore, there are technical experts familiar with your industry, project scope, or technology evaluating your application.

Once all application evaluations are complete, semi-finalists are then chosen and notified of their selection. ISTC then conducts a regulatory compliance check with Illinois EPA to ensure the company is environmentally compliant. During this process, ISTC may reach out to your company or organization for a site visit to confirm activities listed in your application, or learn more about your sustainable process. If you receive a site visit, it does not indicate nor guarantee that you will win an Award.

ISTC then notifies all Finalists and non-Finalists of their application status in August/September. All Award winners will be notified and recognized at the Awards Ceremony on October 24, 2017 at the Union League Club of Chicago.

Qualifications

Applicants will be evaluated primarily on their implementation of sustainability activities. The results should be significant when evaluated against the organization's size and available resources. Here are some of the qualifications we look for:

  • Description and significance of sustainability activities, targeting multiple impacts
  • Significance of activities to your organization's primary function/product
  • Waste volume or emissions reduction, use of green materials, natural resource conservation, etc.
  • Reductions in water, energy, solvent, and toxic chemical usage
  • Waste reduction or beneficial reuse of discarded materials
  • Economic benefits, including cost reductions or jobs created or retained
  • Employee/member involvement
  • Benefits to employees, community, and environment
  • Relevance to other companies and organizations in your sector

Applications need to address the three legs of sustainability; economic, social and environmental issues, as outlined below:

  • Description of Activities
    • Are these activities good examples of sustainability? What aspects of sustainability did the activities include?
    • Is the description complete and well-documented? Does it adequately address the four primary questions in the narrative guidelines: (1) What did you do? (2) How did you do it? (3) Who was involved? (4) What were the benefits?
    • If educational or outreach is involved, does the description clearly state the intended audience and the objectives?
    • Are the activities significant in respect to the size and type of organization?
    • If describing new construction projects, is the project replacing an old building? If yes, how does it compare with prior space metrics?
  • Waste Volume/Emissions Reduction or Natural Resources/Energy Conserved
    • Did the activities result in the reduction of emissions, waste volume, toxicity, energy, use of raw materials or natural resources, or beneficial reuse of discarded materials?
    • Does the narrative quantify these reductions or reuse?
    • Did the activities involve the use of green materials?
  • Economic Benefits
    • Were there quantifiable economic benefits derived from the activity or activities and were they significant? Examples may include:
      • Raw material savings
      • Water savings
      • Labor savings
      • Jobs created or retained
      • Disposal cost savings
      • Energy savings
      • Other
  • Employee/Member Involvement
    • How well did they explain the commitment and ownership that the employees/members had in identifying, implementing, and/or providing ongoing support for these sustainability activities?
  • Benefits to Employees, Community, or Environment
    • Did they identify and explain clearly any other benefits achieved through their sustainability activities, such as improvements in safety; community awareness of the sustainability effort; educational or outreach component; or environmental significance to the community?
  • Relevance to Others
    • Does the narrative describe activities that could apply to other organizations? Has the organization been a mentor to other organizations with respect to the sustainable activities described in the narrative?
    • Did the activities contribute to the cause of a larger sustainability effort?

There are many types of Illinois Sustainability Award applications. In an effort to provide more guidance to unique applications for commercial technologies and industry or community-based sustainability programs, we have listed application qualities that our evaluators use when reading submissions.

If your application focuses on a commercial technology, an applicant must demonstrate that the technology:

  • Is in commercial use and demonstrate, qualitatively and quantitatively, environmental reduction and economic impact.
  • Impacts all three aspects of sustainability: environment, society and economy.
    • Categories of environmental reduction include, but are not limited to: hazardous chemical use, waste, water use, energy use, environmental resources, fuel reduction, and more. Additionally, recycling, reusing, reducing and/or lengthening product lifecycles can also qualify under this category.
  • Increases resource efficiency and decreases natural resources or hazardous chemical use.
  • Demonstrates leadership and innovation and could be utilized/applied in other businesses/industries in Illinois.

If your application focuses on an industry or community-based sustainability program, an applicant must demonstrate that the program:

  • Has been active and working with the audience, industry, or region for at least 1 year and will be a continuing program, project, or initiative beyond the application period.
  • Includes detailed information about the audience served and how this work makes a significant sustainable impact within this population.
  • Includes program/audience baseline data and post-program data.
    • Information provided can be quantitative and/or qualitative as long as it demonstrates the significant impact of the program, project or initiative.
  • Impacts all three aspects of sustainability: environment, society and economy.
    • Categories of environmental reduction include, but are not limited to: hazardous chemical use, waste, water use, energy use, environmental resources, fuel reduction, and more. Additionally, recycling, reusing, reducing and/or lengthening product lifecycles can also qualify under this category.
  • Increases resource efficiency and decreases natural resources or hazardous chemical use.
  • Demonstrates leadership and innovation and could be utilized/applied in other businesses/industries in Illinois.

Applicants also must include a statement at the end of the application confirming the company or organization is not subject to an environmental enforcement action or notice of violation from the U.S. EPA or Illinois EPA. An organization that faces such a compliance action is not eligible to win an award.