Chicago’s Malcolm X College Awarded LEED Gold Certification

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on February 18, 2018 that Malcom X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago located on the West Side of the city, was awarded Leadership in Energy and Efficiency in Design (LEED) Gold certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Gold certification is the second highest USGBC standard — only platinum certification is higher.

A Chicago Community College press release states,  “Malcolm X College’s LEED Gold certification is yet another example of the city’s commitment to building a 21st century economy and fostering opportunities to make sustainability part of the Chicago experience,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Chicago is a global clean energy leader, and will continue to make strides in establishing new norms by powering our public buildings with clean energy.”

MXC Rendering

Photo Credit Moody Nolan

Malcolm X College achieved LEED Gold certification  through the implementation of practical and strategies and solutions to achieve high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Some of the aspects of the Malcolm X College & School of Health Sciences which lead to the LEED Gold certification include:

  • The location of the building within a quarter of a mile from public transportation
  • The use of construction materials made from recycled materials
  • The installation of green roofs
  • The implementation of a rainwater harvesting system used for irrigation
  • The use of control systems that regulate the use of artificial light

“The college’s design serves to compliment the high quality programs Malcolm X College offers to students seeking healthcare careers and planning to transfer to four-year colleges,” said Chancellor Juan Salgado.

According to President David Sanders, “Making sure the campus was sustainable and energy efficient were top priorities in [the] construction of the college. [T]his rating reflects that commitment.”

The minority-owned architectural firm Moody Nolan designed the college. According to Moody Nolan Partner Renauld Mitchell, “City Colleges’ aspiration to develop a healthy, sustainable academic environment was clear to us from the start, and we’re thrilled to see them get acknowledged and proud to share in this accomplishment. Their ethos fully aligned with our firm’s ongoing commitment to socially/environmentally-conscious design.”

“The work of innovative building projects like Malcolm X College is a driving force in transforming the way buildings are built, design and operated,” said USGBC President & CEO Mahesh Ramanujam. “Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment and reducing operating costs while prioritizing sustainable practices, and the number of green buildings is increasing, which improves the quality of life for generations to come.”

A 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index published by CBRE Group Inc. and Maastricht University,  notated that Chicago is the national leader in energy efficient office buildings. In 2017 Chicago increased its percentage of green office space square footage by 6.5 percent, raising the amount of LEED or Energy Star certified city office buildings to 66 percent. More than 115 municipally-owned facilities have been acquired by the City of Chicago and the Public Building Commission and its sister agencies making Chicago the leader of LEED-cerfified municipal buildings in the country. The City met Mayor Emanuel’s 2011 goal of doubling number of LEED certified municipal buildings in 2014.

Malcolm X College is home to City Colleges of Chicago’s School of Nursing and offers programs in phlebotomy, dental hygiene, medical assisting, radiography, personal fitness training, mortuary science and many other disciplines, including general education courses. Malcom X College serves as the City Colleges’ center or excellence for health sciences.

On average, Malcolm X College health science students pass their licensure exam at a rate of 90% and advance their careers at leading healthcare organizations in Chicago.

According to the USGBC, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.

 

 

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Sustainable Energy Expo – April 21, 2018

Just in time for Earth Month and Earth Day, the Northwest Cook County Sierra Club, in conjunction with its partner hosts Countryside Unitarian Universalist, Citizens Utility Board, Faith in Place, and Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA), will host the Sustainable Energy Expo on August 21 from 12 – 4 pm at the Countryside Unitarian Universalist Church in Palatine, Ill.

In addition to the keynote speakers, there will be panel discussions on topics from climate change to energy efficiency ideas and solar incentives for the home, business, and the community. Expo exhibits include ISEA’s solar house, an electric vehicle demo, and several area organizations.

Admission is free, but you still need to reserve your seats. You may secure your tickets at https://sustainableenergyexpo.eventbrite.com.

Lighting the Way to Greener Libraries

Indian Trails Public Library District, located in Wheeling, Ill., reopened its doors on April 10, 2017 after renovating the building and rebuilding in the space — making the way for a more contemporary, bright, open, and energy-efficient space for all uses and ages.

Racetrack Lighting YS

Photo Courtesy McShane Fleming Studios

Patrons now conduct research amid low wattage LED lighting, which is easier on their eyes and does not cast a shadow. The children’s department is the home to the longest LED racetrack lighting in North America. At 815 feet, this racetrack lighting adds a fun, lively and seamless feel to the department and the rest of the library. The space also has a skylight, which offers patrons natural light, especially during the long winter season. And, visitors can also snuggle up with a captivating book next to the gas fireplace.

 

But, the most relevant upgrade of the new building is the conversion of the pricey electric heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to a more cost-efficient and cleaner system which features geothermal wells and natural gas boilers. The library currently houses 28 geothermal wells. Since the library reopened in April, it is still too early to report any energy savings since switching from electric to geothermal energy, although early indicators suggest significant cost savings on energy bills.

In September 2017, Indian Trails added green roofs to the west and south sides of the library on the second floor. The plant material is composed of sedum, which is a perennial plant that is native to the area and requires little or no maintenance. In the springtime the plant blooms star-shaped purple flowers.

In June 2017 the library learned that it had become the recipient of a $100,000 grant from EBSCO Information Services, a library resource provider for academic, public library, and government, and school customers. This grant is for the installation of a solar array at the library. The other $100,000.00 grant recipient was the Athens-Clarke County Library located in Athens, Ga.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant and be given the opportunity to further enhance our new building, stated Brian Shepard, the library executive director. “Through our expanded STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics] programming and makerspace initiatives, we hope to educate and inspire residents to explore the lasting benefits that sustainability practices contribute to an informed community.”

Since its doors reopened in April 2017, the response to the new facility has been overwhelmingly positive. In August, the library hosted the solar house exhibit from  the Illinois Solar Energy Association. When the solar panels are installed next year, the library will include programs for all ages about how  families can reduce their carbon footprint, and the benefits of solar energy.

Method – They Practice…What They Make

I have noticed lately that I’m not the only person in the natural cleaning aisle. In an industry abundant of chemicals and a plethora of scents, many of which do not smell like what they are advertised as, natural cleaning projects are, for a lack of a better term, a breath of fresh air. One such natural cleaning product is Method Home, which offers a wide variety of natural cleaning products – from multipurpose cleaner to floor cleaner to hand soap. Method Home’s Web site states “We follow the precautionary principle: if there’s a chance the ingredient isn’t safe, we don’t use it, period.”

Method also does not use any of the traditional ingredients such as phosphates or bleach, which are known to do harm to the environment. Method’s new facility has incorporated

Method

Copyright Method

this philosophy physically in their manufacturing and distribution center located in Chicago’s historic Pullman District – yes, the same Pullman who developed the luxury sleeping cars.

Green Cleaning, Green Energy

Method’s green cleaning supplies manufacturing facility is powered by clean energy. These energy-efficient sources include:

  • Wind Power – a 230 ft, 600 kW refurbished wind turbine will supply 30% of the center’s energy
  • Solar Power – three solar power trees with 60 PV modules on each tree can supply up to 45.9 kW of energy; with Chicago’s estimated 2,500 sun hours per year, these solar trees can generate approximately 115 MWh annually
  • Hot Water – hot water is supplied to the facility’s office sinks and showers by a 120 gallon solar-powered heating system
  • Energy Efficiency – the building’s rooftop and concrete are designed to reflect light, minimizing heat build-up, which lowers the air conditioning use during the summer
  • Natural Lighting – skylights provide natural lighting, which will decrease energy use; but will also contribute to better worker health and productivity
  • Biodiesel Shipping – Method’s fuel-efficient fleet of trucks runs on 20% biodiesel fuel, which will emit 20% less carbon than traditional trucks

Method’s manufacturing facility not only is energy-efficient and provides green cleaning supplies, while considering the environment, the company has also considered the aesthetics of the building and it’s influence upon the community. Conveniently located near public transportation, employees can get to work by train or bus, which lessens the carbon footprint. The building is not enclosed by a fence, which, according to Method, is a welcome invitation for residents to visit the factor. The company is also giving back to the community by providing a real life classrooms to schools. Method is working to offer school visits , so students can learn about renewable energy, hydroponic farming, and green manufacturing.

Method has many other components to their green manufacturing, which will be discussed in future posts.

Community Colleges Adding Green to Community Part 6 – Moraine Valley Community College

Tucked in one of Chicago’s southernmost suburbs, Moraine Valley Community College of Palos Hills has embraced sustainability and has integrated this mindsemorrainevalleyt in every aspect of the College.

The College’s Web site states that it’s sustainability efforts are multifaceted:

  • Green Campus – Guides the college’s operational and structural procedures and policies between the environment, our people and future prosperity.Green Careers – Supports green jobs training, awareness of green businesses in the local area, and building the capacity for the community to create a local green economy.Green Curriculum – Supports infusing sustainability across curriculum creating a larger population of the workforce that understands sustainability and how it relates to their work and lives.Green Communities – Serves as a resource to Moraine Valley students, staff, faculty, business members and residents.

The College made its green commitment in 2011 when it joined the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact. In just a couple of years, the College has achieved:

  • the opening of the Sustainability Center
  • receives the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Bronze Stars
  • adopted sustainability to the general learning outcomes, which set measurable learning outcomes for sustainability outcomes
  • received an innovation award from the Moraine Valley Foundation to install a Bike Fix station
  • adopted sustainability to the general education learning outcomes, specifying measurable learning outcomes for sustainability literacy

A Green Commitment

According to Stephanie Presseller, Sustainability Manager at Moraine Valley, faculty has gotten involved with “greening the campus”. Presseller explains, “Faculty have participated in a ‘greening the curriculum Sustainability Scholars Program that helps them understand how to infuse sustainability into existing curriculum.  Each faculty learns what is sustainability and creates definitions that fit their specific discipline so they can teach it in context of the required content they need to teach. We have faculty from graphic arts, fine arts, biology, chemistry, business, recreation, physics, sociology, psychology, developmental education, heating and air, automotive, history, political science, speech, creative writing and literature… I’m sure I’m missing something. It’s really a diverse representation of faculty and disciplines and very exciting to have such a broad engagement.”

 

Community Colleges Adding Green to Community – Part 5, Elgin Community College

The foceccus of our fifth part in our series about Chicago area community colleges sustainability efforts circles back to a more urban environment – Elgin Community College (ECC). Located approximately 25 miles west of Chicago, Elgin is the seventh most populated city in the state of Illinois.

Creating a More Responsive Sustainable Community

According to Ileo N. Lott, Ed.D. Dean of Sustainability, Business, and Career Technologies, unlike other Chicago area community colleges, “The campus [ECC] does not have a master plan for sustainability, but our commitment to sustainability is reflected in ECC’s Strategic Goal #5 to ‘strengthen educational and workforce partnerships to create a more responsive and sustainable community.'”

Lott explains that partnerships to grow sustainability throughout the campus continue to be a main focus. He states that ” Globally, the focus of sustainability is to accomplish the best outcomes while maintaining and, better yet, reducing resources. We are measured by our effectiveness in reducing our resources based upon the investment we make in our educational and workforce partnerships.”

With the creation of the Business and Career Technology Center in 2010, ECC seized its commitment to sustainability. The Energy Business Management Program, which “focuses on preparing students for work as mid-level technicians in the renewable energy industry as technicians in large, commercial facilities in the area of environmental controls and computerized building automation. Many companies…are required to measure their energy management consumption…,” explains Lott.

Sustainable practices is a part of the curriculum for all career and technology programs at the College, demonstrating the importance of sustainability to its students as a best practice for most organizations today.

Showing Green On Campus

ECC's Building A.

ECC’s Building A.

Sustainability is not only a philosophy at ECC, but the campus has started showing its belief in sustainability and green practices too. The College’s Building A; which houses the biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and other science and medical classes; was recognized as the 2013 recipient Project of the Year by the Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO). According to an ECC press release, “It [Building A]  [received] LEED Silver certification, which underscores the college’s focus on environmental stewardship.

After the decision to incorporate sustainability, ECC became a member of the Illinois Green Economy Network, which led to hands-on opportunities for the campus to adopt sustainable practices.

For example, the … Energy Management students conducted an energy audit for light usage in the manufacturing building that led to more efficient LED bulbs being used throughout the building. Additionally, several water bottle filler stations were installed across the campus to encourage the use of refillable water bottles. Each station keeps a tally on how many plastic water bottles have been saved.”

Lott states, ” Future plans at ECC [include] to continue to make sustainability a campus and community effort. There is a campus-wide sustainability committee and, most recently, a student-led club, Student Organization for Sustainability (SOS). Additionally, other student led clubs such as the CEO club have  embraced sustainability in sponsoring of Earth Day Events and promoting the entrepreneurial mindset.”

 

 

 

Community Colleges Adding Green to Community – Part 4, College of Lake County

Located in the Chicago area’s northernmost county, the College of Lake County has established a Sustainability Plan which, according to David Husemoller, CLC sustainability manager and adjunct horticulture instructor, “… is a three-year plan with goals and action items to be reviewed annually. Goals are organized in three areas: Greening Our Campus, Greening Our Curriculum and Greening Our Community.”

Broken down to a series of goals, the Sustainability Plan states that “Greening Our Campus  involves integration of sustainability principles and practices into all college operations including administrative decision-making, social responsibility, employee education, and physical facility management.”

Greening Our Campus includes:

 Buildings and Energy – minimize building energy consumption through conservation, efficiency and improvement measures. An example of this goal includes expanding the use of renewable the exploration and a feasibility analysis of logo-largesuch projects as the integration of geothermal heat and cooling sources and the conversion of the aging heat air handlers to solar-assisted systems. Another example is “…to provide physical and virtual access to energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to be used as models for community and curriculum demonstrations.”

One such project is the geothermal system scheduled for the main campus at Grayslake, which will consist of a shared field and loop circling the campus. This geothermal system eventually will be used to heat and cool all the buildings on campus. As of this blog posting, drilling is completed and the pressure testing of wells is next.

According to Husemoller “We [CLC] expect to see 50% savings on water heating for buildings with solar thermal panels installed last year. We are experiencing savings in energy as we convert from metal halide and fluorescent lighting to LED fixtures, but those energy figures are difficult to highlight as they are confounded by changes in IT systems.”

According to the CLC Sustainability Plan “Greening Our Curriculum involves engaging faculty, staff and students in incorporating a foundation of understanding of sustainability context in all educational experiences offered by the institution. Through participation in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), the College of Lake County developed Student Learning Objectives in Sustainability and a set of definitions for identifying courses in sustainability offered by the College.

An example of Green Our Curriculum is  Student Engagement, which will offer unique opportunities for CLC students “to influence, participate, and learn from sustainability efforts on campus and in the community.”

Included in this student engagement is:

  • Communicate information and updates to all college students on institutional sustainability commitments and performance including materials in New Student Orientation, and opportunities to provide feedback and suggestions.
  • Work with offices and departments that coordinate student services and student leadership to integrate sustainable practices and activities into existing student life.
  •  Coordinate peer-to-peer sustainability outreach for students to receive training and support in representing and promoting sustainability resources and events to the student body.
  • Create partnerships within the community and on campus to offer extra-curricular experiences for students to be exposed to sustainability concepts as they impact their education, lifestyle and future.

Further Thoughts

Community Colleges are their own animal – these colleges truly reach into the community to not only educate community members, but much more. These colleges pose their own unique challenges as far as sustainability is concerned.

Husemoller notes “It can be a challenge keeping folks engaged across three campuses [Grayslake, Waukegan and Vernon Hills], but we had some success recently with a shoe and clothing/textile recycling drive with significant involvement across the board. Community colleges generate a significant amount of their carbon emissions from commuters. We have events highlighting alternative options for transportation. CLC serves a hub for the county bus transit system. CLC is installing more bike paths, connecting with the regional path system.”

Other accolades CLC can be proud of include:

 

Community Colleges Adding Green to Community – Part 3, McHenry Community College

Part three of this ongoing series about Chicago area community colleges and their sustainability efforts explores the most rural area of this huge area — McHenry County College (MCC).

Located in Crystal Lake, “McHenry County College has had a long standing, 20-year commitment toward sustainability,” stated Kim Hankins, Director, Sustainability Center at MCC.

McHenryCountyCollegeLogoThis commitment began in 1994 with the the Lou Marchi Total Recycling Institute (LMTRI), which, according to the MCC Web site “… was established through an endowment by a former continuing education instructor and community leader for environmental issues, to promote recycling in the community. The LMTRI has helped establish used paint and athletic shoes recycling programs; co-sponsored electronic and hazardous waste collection events; assisted with green business programming; and hosted Earth Day events and a variety of environmental programs.”

Sustainability Center

MCC’S Sustainability Center focuses on “….three interconnected areas, which creates a holistic approach to sustainability,” as stated on the College’s Web site.

These three areas are:

  1. Green Campus including physical campus and campus operations.
  2. Green Education that includes curriculum development for a green economy and training for employees and students about sustainable practices.
  3. Green Community including how MCC shares with the community resources that improve quality of life.

Aligning with green campus is the installation of  335 solar panels on the Shah Center in McHenry. “In June 2014, the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) awarded MCC a $250,000 grant to go towards a 91 kW solar photovoltaic installation,” as stated on the Web site.

These solar panels account for approximately 50 percent of the necessary power to run the Shah Center, while providing McHenry County residents with an estimated reduction of 75 tons of carbon per year.

MCC offers a variety of credit and noncredit workshops focusing on sustainability and the environment. The credit classes cover many subjects — from Alternate Fuel Vehicles, which discuss vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) , propane (LPG) and bi-fuel vehicles that alternate between gasoline and CNG or LPG to hydroponics, which studies hydroponic systems for growing horticultural crops and plants in indoor environments to a Creative Leadership project, which is part of the Fast Track Business Management program, which focuses on promoting green technology.

Even if a class is not specifically geared toward sustainability, Hankins explained that this sustainability and green thinking is embedded into each curriculum. For example, as part of the lesson on decision making in Introduction to Psychology, the decision whether or not to recycle is used as the example.

Green Community, College

MCC reaches out to the community to promote sustainability. MCC’s Sustainability Center and the LMTRI publish the annual McHenry County Green Guide, which is full of lots of new and reusing information, including a Green Living section on where you can purchase green products locally and online. And, the Sustainability Center provides education for the college and the community about solid waste.

As stated in it’s Sustainability Plan, MCC’s vision is that the College…”will be a premier model of sustainability and environmentalstewardship through campus practices and education for District 528 and the greater McHenry County community. Through leadership and education, McHenry County College will improvethe quality of life for current and future generations.”

 

 

Community Colleges Adding Green to Community Part 2 — Harper College

So, next in my series about sustainability and Chicago area community colleges is Harper College. Located in Palatine, Harper College holds a special place in my heart and mind because Harperthis was the community college I attended after high school and before I transferred to Northeastern Illinois University. The College has grown and changed — I had difficulty finding where I was supposed to meet someone – didn’t even recognize the campus! But, that’s a good thing! And, I was also very happy to learn about the green efforts the College is making toward sustainability.
In order to move forward with its sustainability efforts, Amy Bandman was hired as Harper’s first Sustainability Coordinator, who has stated that “…the biggest sustainability challenge is community engagement – those at the school have to take ownership of being green and healthy, but it’s hard because Harper is a commuter school.”

Moving Forward

Even though community engagement may be a struggle, there have been many sustainability victories at Harper — the most significant being the drop from 2.18 million gallons of water usage to 1.85 million gallons between May 2014 and May 2014 – that’s a difference of .33 million gallons in one year.

“In just one year we [Harper College] have reduced paper towel consumption by four and a half tons just by switching to hand dryers — this has saved the college over $12,000,” explained Bandman

The College has also made progress achieving the goals set in its 2013 Climate Action Plan. In its January 15, 2015 American College & University President’s Commitment, Bandman reported that “Harper College has achieved its first target set forth in phase one of the climate action plan, achieving 5% reduction in energy use of purchased utilities compared to the base year of 2010 and 15% offset of carbon emissions from purchased utilities via renewable energy certificates.

Also, per the climate action plan, all newly constructed buildings at Harper must meet LEED Silver status.

Landscaping at the College is not untouched; Harper  has planted more native plants and now grow these plants in house in the greenhouse in peet pots, thus, reducing the waste of plastic pots. Also, vegetated swales can be seen in the north parking lot and near the new parking garage.

Harper’s Welding Technology department has even become involved in sustainability efforts. The Welding department build two new bicycle racks which hold seven bikes — these racks, which are placed in front of the new buildings promote both welding and bicycling.

According to the College, “The [welding] class will work each semester to fabricate two bike racks and Physical Plant staff will continue to install the bike racks on campus. This is a great opportunity to showcase student work on campus while helping to contribute to Harper’s green efforts. Instructor Adam Phan shares his excitement for “spotlighting our program and giving the students such a great opportunity to have a long lasting, positive impact on campus; this is really something we can all be proud of.”

Harper is also moving toward stream recycling where all items that can be recycled can be thrown in the same bin instead of having to separate items, making it easier for those on campus to participate in recycling efforts. Also, those water bottle filling stations located throughout campus have eliminated 718,000 one-use bottles, according to Bandman.

Involvement

In addition to Harper’s Environmental Club, the Sustainability Department is offering a Sustainability Series with various programs. The next program is Whole Home Efficiency: Ways To Save Energy and Money on Tuesday, July 21 — free lunch will be provided. For more information about this and upcoming events check out http://goforward.harpercollege.edu/about/consumerinfo/sustainability/.

 

 

Community Colleges Adding Green to Community – Oakton Community College

Community colleges – they’re at the root of many communities. These community colleges are just that – they serve the community and by doing so these colleges try to reach out to people with diverse interests. Sustainability is one of these interests. Being green and good to the Earth and more sustainable isn’t just a trend or an “in thing” anymore, it’s real – oakton_headerpeople from many backgrounds are interested in chipping in and preserving and beautifying the Earth and their surroundings – their community. I wanted to learn more about what the community colleges in my area (Chicago, Ill.) are doing to be more ecofriendly. So, I’m reaching out to these colleges to learn more. This is the first of a series of blogs which I will post when I have received the information.

Oakton Community College – Des Plaines, Ill.

Listed below are questions and answers I posed to Oakton’s Sustainability Specialist, Debra Kutska:

Q: What are some of the sustainability measures Oakton has taken which the college is most proud of and why?

A: A great piece of pride for the College is our 147 acre Des Plaines campus. We are located in a beautiful stretch of land alongside the Des Plaines River, Kloempken Prairie and a stretch of the Cook County Forest Preserve.  The College works hard on maintaining natural habitats for native plant and animal species. Our naturalist, Ken Schaefer, heads up such initiatives. We perform in regular habitat restoration endeavors including removal of invasive species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard, use native plants in our landscaping, compost lawn clippings and plant trimmings, avoid pesticides and herbicides whenever possible and have an extensive prairie restoration project in process including regular prescribed burns.  These efforts have resulted in recognition from the US EPA and Chicago Wilderness in the form of a 2010 Conservation and Native Landscaping Award and by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Another great endeavor is the opening of our new Margaret Burke Lee Science and Health Careers Center, our first building erected under LEED certification.  You can read more about that here: https://oaktongreenteam.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/margaret-burke-lee-science-and-health-careers-center-is-open/.

Q: How has the College reduced energy?

A: Reducing our electricity consumption is an ongoing process, particularly since our main campus buildings are older. Some of the things we have done include replacing parts in our HVAC equipment to those that are more energy-efficient, switching out to CFLs and LED lights in phases (we recently replaced all of our Halogen bulbs in the gymnasium with LED lighting), utilizing occupancy sensors and timers throughout buildings to turn out lights when not in use, choosing Energy Star appliances where possible and high-efficiency technology equipment, using solar heating for water at the Des Plaines campus, and installing a 23.6 kw solar array on the new Lee Center.

Q: Has the College reduced its water consumption?

A: Using native plants on campus results in less water usage for irrigating the grounds. We have switched to water efficient fixtures in restrooms (low flow toilets, faucets) and are in the process of remodeling our locker rooms which will also contain water-saving features.

Q: What has been the faculty and student reaction to the College’s green efforts?

A: Informally, folks are excited. My position is new to the College and I just started in July. I have received lots of great feedback from staff and faculty who are excited about opportunities to be more sustainable in our operations and lots of suggestions are coming in for how we can make this happen. It is great to see individuals from multiple departments, across disciplines come together with ideas.  Of course, there are many out there who are not interested or who do not see the value in green efforts, so we just have to work to frame projects in ways that will be more appealing to them. Maybe it is the cost-savings, maybe it involves the benefits our students can receive, or the way we represent ourselves as leaders in the community.  Every day is a chance to help people think about their behaviors.

Q: Is composting in the future?

A: Yes, we hope! We currently have a task force assigned with evaluating the waste we produce on both campuses. How it is produced, what is produced, how we can reduce our usage or better divert waste from landfills. Composting is high up on the list of conversation. We are currently evaluating opportunities and costs associated with onsite composting versus third-party composting.

Q: Future plans?

A: Looking at data to evaluate baselines for water and energy consumption, reducing our waste so that we send far less to the landfill, refining recycling opportunities and educational campaigns for all users of our campuses, reducing our paper usage and increasing digital technology for operational procedures.

Lara R. Jackson is a writer/editor based in the Chicago available for full-time, part-time or freelance opportunities. Visit www.lrjwriteedit.wordpress.com or contact her at lrjwriteedit@gmail.com.

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