Prairie Research Institute

Center for Advanced Climate Solutions


The Center for Advanced Climate Solutions (CACS) at the University of Illinois was established to foster innovative solutions to address emerging challenges driven by climate change. CACS helps coalesce and expand significant University climate expertise, research, training and student interest. It is unique in its focus on the burgeoning need for solutions-driven research and professional training to address the generational and grand challenges caused by climate change. Specifically, the Center works to:

  • Accelerate the development of practical climate solutions through innovative, integrative research
  • Increase competitiveness for external and private funding for climate solutions
  • Educate and train students for the quickly growing cross-sector demand for climate consulting

CACS is led by the Prairie Research Institute and Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), with partnership from Civil & Environmental EngineeringGeography & Geographic Information ScienceNuclear, Plasma, and Radiological EngineeringSchool of Labor and Employment RelationsAtmospheric Sciences, the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute, the Center for Social & Behavioral Science, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the National Center for Supercomputing ApplicationsAgricultural and Biological Engineering, and the Discovery Partners Institute.

Advancing Climate-Solutions Research

CACS is an institutional investment to harness the myriad expertise, research acumen, and strong partnerships between University academic units and research institutes to focus on climate solutions that require cross-sector collaboration for successful development and implementation. CACS facilitates opportunities for cross-campus research targeted to developing solutions to climate challenges in:

  • Climate hazard mitigation
    Climate change has altered the weather-related hazards in virtually every global region, increasing exposure risk to impacts caused by extreme heat, wildfires, drought, heavy precipitation and flooding, among others. Recent events such as the shutting down of the power grid in Texas in February 2021, evacuation in New Orleans under the threat of category 4 hurricane Ida in September 2021, western wildfire devastation in the summer and fall of 2021, and the 2021–22 western drought and heatwaves, exemplify the urgent need to develop resilience to climate change. Weather-related hazard frequency and intensity are projected to increase across the United States, irrespective of climate change mitigation. Therefore, solutions to effective preparation, management, and response to these changing hazards are increasingly critical for proper climate adaptation.
  • Building climate resilience in urban living
    Increasing urbanization, changing urban landscapes, and rapidly growing urban populations magnify climate change impacts and issues of governance, equity, health, and mobility. Increasingly frequent and intense storms overwhelm aging water infrastructure, causing damaging urban flooding. More frequent and intense heat waves are expected to be worsened by urban heat island effects, disproportionately affecting vulnerable low-income and housing-insecure communities in urban areas. Building climate change resilience in urban areas is not limited to preparing for more frequent hazards but requires a more holistic perspective of cross-urban resilience. Safe and affordable housing, reliable and accessible public and active transportation, and effective green infrastructure to mitigate heat and flooding are all necessary solutions.
  • Climate change and One Health
    Climate change causes significant and diverse human health impacts, including those from more frequent and intense hazards such as extreme heat and flooding. However, climate change is also causing human health impacts from changing human and animal migration patterns, the emergence and spread of vector-borne and waterborne infectious diseases, and increased allergens, air, water, and food pollution and security problems. The complexity of interactions between climate change and human health requires adopting a One Health approach for climate-health solutions. One Health recognizes that human health is intrinsically tied to environmental health, including that of flora and fauna, and that any effort to make a safer and healthier world must address the critical interface between people and pathogens.
  • Decarbonizing the economy
    Climate change mitigation via immediate and rapid drawdown of human greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to achieve a healthier and more productive world for future generations. Such drawdown requires completely decarbonizing our global economy, from power production to industrial processes and manufacturing to transportation and food production. Meanwhile, technology developments in renewable and carbon-free energy production, sustainable building and manufacturing materials, and efficient, carbon-free transportation must also be resilient to changing climate hazards and extremes.

CACS is uniquely positioned to marry the wealth of expertise and fundamental research in academic units with the applied research and stakeholder outreach at UIUC research institutes. Furthermore, CACS leverages strong external partnerships with private industry and government entities to ensure climate solutions research, training, and engagement modalities are addressing the demonstrated needs of these partners.

Climate Training

Local to federal government entities, private industry, and NGOs recognize the need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and look to climate consulting to lead this transition, from developing more sustainable and resilient supply chains to assessing the climate vulnerability of global assets to responding to climate-focused policies and mandates. CACS is helping position UIUC as a global leader in climate consulting education and training by integrating climate-related curriculum and expanding training and research practicum opportunities for students, thereby meeting the quickly growing demand for a workforce ready to infuse solutions-focused climate expertise across a wide swath of societal and business sectors. CACS, in coordination with its academic unit partners, is developing a series of certificate programs for microcredentialing in climate consulting. These certificate programs will provide a unique training experience for existing students and those already in the workforce who are focused on developing solutions for climate challenges and implementing these solutions at scale.