The organizers of IDC’23 understand the value of conferences to support vibrant academic communities. However, the environmental costs of frequent international convenings are high and increasingly unsustainable. This page includes information to help attendees reduce their overall impact.
On this page, you will find information about the sustainability measures we have implemented for the conference, as well as tips for attendees on how to be sustainable traveling to and while attending the event. We also provide information on what we are doing to support a hybrid conference, because providing high-quality virtual attendance options has the potential to increase the sustainability of a conference due to the environmental impact of travel.
We appreciate your support in helping us create a more sustainable IDC conference and encourage you to take an active role in reducing your own environmental impact. If you have any suggestions to help make IDC more sustainable in the future, please share them using this form (coming soon).
SIGCHI Sustainability Committee
Did you know? Since April 2022 there is a SIGCHI Sustainability Committee. Their vision is to:
- significantly reduce all environmental costs of the conferences that SIGCHI supports
- promote sustainability at SIGCHI events by developing policies and guidelines
- mitigate the local socio-ecological impacts of global HCI activities and propose offsetting measures
- embed sustainability as a foundational value of HCI research, design, practice, and education
- work on ethically sustainable research guidelines and sustainable HCI curricula
Planning your trip Sustainably
Carbon Offset – Cool Effect
You will have the option during registration to offset your carbon emission caused by attending and traveling to IDC. A carbon offset is a reduction of carbon emissions to compensate for an equal amount of emissions from another source (e.g., emissions from your mode of transportation to the conference). Carbon offsets can take many forms, including planting trees, grasslands conservation, methane capture, or helping communities transition to renewable energy.
During registration, there will be a checkbox to make a donation to Cool Effect, the ACM-approved carbon offset provider. You can read more about Cool Effect’s current carbon offset projects here, and selection/vetting process here. The donation amount will be added to your total registration cost.
Traveling to Chicago
Chicago is a transportation hub. If you live in the region, please consider taking a train or bus to the conference to reduce your carbon impact. Planes spend the most fuel reaching altitude and descending, so short regional flights are less efficient than long-haul flights (link). Rail travel is one of the most efficient modes of travel, producing up to 73% fewer emissions than flying, and carpooling and bus travel are also significantly more energy efficient than flying (click here, here, here, and here for more data)
In addition, train and bus tickets are often significantly more affordable than air travel, are typically more spacious than airplanes, have fewer restrictions on baggage and less stressful screening/boarding processes, and often provide unique travel experiences, the opportunity to connect with other travelers, and the ability to see and experience the American landscape.
The Amtrak train system connects Chicago to cities across the country. We particularly recommend Amtrak if you live in the region. A full Amtrak train map is available here and you can select the public transport option on Google Maps to see transportation time from your city to Chicago.
Amtrak trains arrive at Chicago’s Union Station. You can get from Union Station to the conference venue is via public transportation (the 157 bus picking up from Canal & Adams and dropping off at Fairbanks & Superior) or a taxi or rideshare service.
The Greyhound bus system also connects Chicago to cities across the region. A full Greyhound bus map is available here and you can select the public transport option on Google Maps to see transportation time from your city to Chicago.
Greyhound buses arrive at the Chicago Bus Station at 630 W Harrison St. Chicago, IL 60607. You can get from the Chicago Bus Station to the conference venue is via public transportation (the 157 bus picking up from Canal & Polk and dropping off at Fairbanks & Superior) or a taxi or rideshare service.
While taking a train or bus is typically significantly more sustainable than car travel, traveling via car can be more eco-friendly than flying. Your carbon footprint can be further reduced by carpooling or driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. If you live in the region and are unable to take a train or bus to the conference, consider driving instead of flying. Click for information about parking at the conference venue and conference hotel.
Some common regional destinations reachable by train, bus, or car from Chicago in less than 9 hours are listed below. All destinations are reachable within the specified time frame by either train/bus or car, unless designated as ‘car only’.
- Under 1 hour travel time: The Metra commuter train offers transportation into Chicago from cities and suburbs immediately surrounding Chicago.
- Under 4 hours travel time: Milwaukee, WI; Madison, WI; Notre Dame, IN; Indianapolis, IN; Champaign, IL; Kalamazoo, MI
- 4-8 hour travel time: Detroit, MI; Ann Arbor, MI; Lansing, MI; Grand Rapids, MI; St. Louis, MO; Cleveland, OH; Toledo, OH; Cincinnati, OH (car only); Louisville, KY; Green Bay, WI; Des Moines, IA (car only); Springfield, IL; Fort Wayne, IN; Nashville, TN (car only); Memphis, TN (car only); Toronto, ON, Canada (car only); Pittsburgh, PA (car only)
- 8-9 hour travel time: Kansas City, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Columbus, OH; Omaha, NE
Commercial air travel is a significant contributor to global warming, accounting for about 3 to 4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and 2.4% of global emissions. You can calculate the estimated emissions for your flight here.
However, we recognize that a lack of high speed train infrastructure in the United States and the international reach of the IDC conference will require some attendees to fly. We ask you to consider the following options to reduce the carbon impact of your flight:
- Choose economy seating rather than Business or First Class. Flying Business or First Class can more than double the carbon impact of your fight due to the extra space the seats take up.
- Fly nonstop. Planes spend the most fuel reaching altitude and descending, so non-stop flights are more efficient than flights with connections. In addition, long-haul flights are more efficient than short regional flights—meaning you should consider alternative transportation options for short flights (link).
- Choose to offset the carbon footprint of your flight on the registration form.
- Limit the number of long-distance conferences you and your students travel to within a year. Consider participating in the high-quality virtual attendance option we are providing for IDC’23.
Looking for a place to stay in Chicago that is sustainable? Consider one of these options, all within DISTANCE of the conference venue.
During your Sustainable Stay
Getting Around Chicago
Chicago has a robust public transit system. When traveling around Chicago, we recommend you prioritize taking a bus or a ride on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train system, referred to as the “L”. The closest train stop to the conference center is the Chicago Red Line station (Chicago Avenue and State Street). Information about accessibility on Chicago public transit is available here. The Metra suburban commuter train also provides sustainable and traffic-free transport to/from the suburbs and certain neighborhoods in the city.
Or, enjoy the beautiful summer weather and take a walk or rent one of the many public bikes located around the city. Learn more about biking in Chicago here and here.
If you need to take a taxi or Uber/Lyft to get to your destination, please consider carpooling with other conference attendees to reduce your carbon footprint.
Local & Sustainable Restaurants
Eat local and consider vegetarian or vegan options to reduce your carbon footprint.
Within walking distance from conference venue:
- Chicago Raw
- North Pond
- Lula Cafe
Connect with Nature
June in Chicago is a beautiful month, and there are many opportunities to connect with nature in and around Chicago and learn about Chicago’s natural landscape.
Chicago Beaches (Distance from conference center: varies)
Milton Lee Olive Park (Distance from conference center: 0.9 mi)
Chicago Riverwalk (Distance from conference center: 1.5 mi)
Grant Park (Distance from conference center: 1.9 mi)
Lincoln Park (Distance from conference center: 2 mi)
Garfield Park Conservatory (Distance from conference center: 7.5 mi)
North Park Village Nature Center (Distance from conference center: 11 mi)
Skokie Lagoons (Distance from conference center: 22 mi)
Chicago Botanic Garden (Distance from conference center: 24 mi)
Morton Arboretum (Distance from conference center: 29 mi)
The IDC 2023 conference will be hosted at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. We include more information below about sustainability at the venue.
Recycling and Composting
There are clearly marked recycling and composting stations located around the conference venue. Please reduce, reuse, and recycle, and compost food scraps to minimize waste.
More information coming soon!
Bring your own bottle! The IDC conference venue has water stations throughout. So bring one of your own bottles and refill whenever you like. Let’s all reduce unnecessary plastic bottles together.
Ecological Heritage and Initiatives
The Chicago area is home to a wide array of biodiversity and ecosystems. The city is located on Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth. The surrounding area is home to prairies, woodlands, wetlands, dunes, rivers, and, of course, lakes (link).
Indigenous communities have lived and traded in the Chicago areas for thousands of years (see Land Acknowledgement). European colonial settlements in the area were devastating to the native communities and also the environment. Prairie soils were destroyed by overgrazing, many forested areas were cut down, and drainage projects impacted the wetlands. Inasmuch as the modern city of Chicago is a feat of engineering, it stands in contrast to the natural landscape, its skyscrapers lifted by beams and screws out of a swamp, and a man-made canal cut through the city center (link).
We provide more information below about Chicago’s indigenous peoples and ecological heritage below, including various groups that are working to restore the many ecosystems in Chicagoland.
Northwestern is a community of learners situated within a network of historical and contemporary relationships with Native American tribes, communities, parents, students, and alumni. It is also in close proximity to an urban Native American community in Chicago and near several tribes in the Midwest.
The Northwestern campus sits on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires, the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa. It was also a site of trade, travel, gathering and healing for more than a dozen other Native tribes and is still home to over 100,000 tribal members in the state of Illinois.
We encourage you to learn more about Chicago’s current indigenous communities here: https://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/diversity/chicago-indigenous
Learn & Give Back
Take the opportunity to learn about sustainability initiatives around the Chicago area, and consider giving back to the community you are visiting. We describe and link to just a few of these initiatives below.
Chicago Wilderness Alliance: A regional collaborative implementing conservation efforts in the Chicago area, including habitat restoration, sustainable agriculture, collecting and mapping environmental data (e.g. invasive species, trees), and protecting watersheds.
Chicago Environmental Justice Network: A grassroots environmental justice organization advocating for equitable access to clean and healthy air, water, buildings, and more in the Chicago area.
Alliance for the Great Lakes: A nonprofit organization seeking to protect and restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Illinois Green Alliance: A nonprofit working to promote healthier, cleaner, and more environmentally friendly buildings in Illinois.
sustainNU: An initiative at Northwestern seeking to make a more sustainable campus environment, focusing on building efficiency, water conservation, energy, and transportation.
ISEN: An institute at Northwestern seeking to advance global sustainability through research, education, and public outreach.
Native American and Indigenous Initiatives: Initiatives at Northwestern University seeking to enhance inclusion of Native Americans at Northwestern. If you visit the Evanston campus, consider taking the Indigenous Tour of Northwestern to learn more about the current indigenous community at Northwestern and Northwestern’s indigenous heritage and history.