NIU gets green light on sustainability center

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - Northern Illinois University gets the go-ahead to design a $23 million sustainability center on its campus.

The Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS) will be a hub for groundbreaking research in areas like water resources and food systems. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says this facility will be a climate advancement for the state.

A 30-thousand square foot sustainability center will be built northwest of the Convocation Center at Northern Illinois University after the state of Illinois gives NIU approval to start the design phase.

“I was a little disappointed how many teeth I had to pull to get this started to begin that process. But it is a new day and there is such excitement on campus about this proceeding forward,” says State Representative Jeff Keicher.

Keicher is one of the leaders who advocated for the project starting in 2018. The research center will focus on three areas: improving water resources, managing environmental change and creating food system innovation across northern Illinois.

“It’s not just DeKalb and it never was, although we plan on serving Dekalb, it’s an important thing to the entire region, you know, we see that the needs will be in Rockford,” says NIU Vice President for Research and Innovation Gerald Blazey.

This research center will be part of the Illinois Innovation Network, a group of state-funded hubs that manage environmental issues and boost the economy.

“Because the hubs are interconnected, we will be able to share those solutions and the knowledge and the innovations we’ve developed with the other hubs, and then they can take that and apply it in their local area,” says Blazey.

“This will be another differentiator for northern Illinois university as we look to attract students for tomorrow’s careers,” says Keicher.

Construction on the facility could start by 2023 with plans to be open for research by 2026.

The Capital Development Board in charge of building the research center is already seeking bids for the right architectural firm to build the facility.

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