Revisiting Harper College’s Sustainability Efforts

It’s been a few years since I wrote my blog post on Harper College’s sustainability initiative and efforts, so I decided to revisit this issue with the college to discover its progress and if there have been any additional programs added to the initial initiative.

Campus Additions

The campus is in the process of adding sub meters to track energy and water efficiency cost savings. The college has also changed the way it collects data for the carbon commitment progress evaluation. So, at the end of the next academic year, Harper should have more accurate findings to report.

Bringing Sustainability Into the Classroom

The Prairie Observation Deck, which was completed in the fall of 2016, is an outdoor classroom of sorts, where students observe and study the plants, birds, and mammals of natural prairie habitats. According to Amy Bandman, Sustainability Coordinator at Harper College, “The great thing about this new deck is that it is accessible so all students are able to participate, whereas the original deck was only accessible by climbing stairs.”

Harperclassroom

Harper’s Prairie Observation Deck, Photo Courtesy: Amy Bandman

According to Craig Stettner, Professor of Mathematics and Science, ” My primary use for our prairie platform has been as an outdoor lecture location.  When I teach BIO 103 (Man and the Environment), my small-group sections are comprised of 16 students, a perfect size for the platforms.  This fall, I will have nine small-group sections, all of whom will have to mount the platform and listen to my banter three or four times during the semester. There is no substitute for speaking about something while gesturing towards the real thing.”

Karen Lustig, Professor of Mathematics and Science, also comments, ” I also use this platform for my classes in a similar manner as Craig has described .  We often meet there or regroup  before spreading out into the prairie, woods, etc.  We also use it as an observation post when we study and record birds and mammals for one of our labs.  In the past students in wheelchairs or on crutches have had to remain on the sidewalk to observe and record for lab-now they can get they can get the real feel of what a prairie is like!”

Green In and Outside of the Office

The College introduced the ReUsit Room , the College’s first office supply exchange space. According to the College’s 2017 Sustainability Annual Report, “The ReUsit Room allows employees to obtain office supplies without purchasing new items. Employees are also encouraged to donate gently-used office supplies they no longer need. This waste reduction initiative continues to result in decreased material sent to the landfill and reduced spending.

The goals of this program included:

  1. Find a solution to move out office waste
  2. Create an ongoing method of reducing waste and operational costs
  3. Increase campus participation in waste reduction intitatives.
IMG_2143

Harper’s ReUsIt Room, where old supplies get a second life. Photo Courtesy: Amy Bandman

According to Amy Bandman, Sustainability Coordinator at Harper College, “During the 2017/2018 academic year, 2,636 items were reused from the ReUseIt Room, translating into a money savings of over $5,600 and eliminating 1001 pounds of material from entering the landfill. Since its beginning, the ReUseIt room has repurposed a total of 6,941 items, saved over $14,900 in avoided office supply expenses and saved over 2,400 pounds of material from entering the landfill.”

The ReUsitRoom has helped shift the way the campus things about waste. The ReUseIt Room continues to be utilized as a true exchange space; donations are constantly made to the ReUseIt Room and office supply items are frequently taken out and given a second life. This initiative has helped shift the way the campus thinks about waste.  Old office supplies are no longer seen as trash.

The second annual RePlantIt Free-For-All ton June 5, 2018, drew over 80 employees who shared their plant bounty and picked up new plants for their office or garden. This free plant exchange showcased several hundred plants for employees to enjoy including outdoor plants, vegetables and herbs, indoor office plants. A mix of exotic plants was donated by Harper’s Biology Department. One of Harper’s adjunct faculty, Jennifer Richardson, a master gardener, volunteered at the event answering any questions employees had relating to plants or gardening. This sustainability engagement event continues to engage Harper Employees in greening our campus and community

New Compost Bins

The Harper College Facilities Management has partnered with Harper’s Chemistry department to build composting test bins on campus this spring.  The new compost bins are located on the east side of campus, on the site of the former construction parking lot. The bins will be used by students in Harper’s chemistry classes to conduct research on composting.  Students will study the chemical make-up of compost, which materials make optimal compost and will observe how different kinds of materials alter its chemical make-up.  This green campus project is starting in the classroom with small scale organic material collection with anticipated growth in the future.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Indian Trails’ Sustainability Efforts: Update

 

It’s been a year since Indian Trails Library Public Library District in Wheeling, Ill. (see October 2018 post), began its sustainability and energy efficiency efforts.

“From April 2017 to December 2017, Indian Trails saw a 30 percent decrease in energy costs, even though the building is 30 percent larger — this is significant for us,” explained Communications Manager, Susan Dennison, ” Our solar panels are expected to be installed sometime in May or June.”

The Giving Garden has just been built on the rooftop of the library. This program is run IMG_1348by the library to teach children about planting, tending, and harvesting vegetables. The proceeds of the garden will be donated to a local food pantry. The library received a $2,000.00 from the Rotary Club of Wheeling to help fund this garden. The money will go toward supplies for the new garden and a food composter.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.”

 

 

« Older entries