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:


Chicago Area Nature Center Going for LEED Certification

Practicing what it preaches, the Hickory Knolls Nature Center in St. Charles, Ill. is “going for the green” to become a LEED-certified building.

The Nature Center, which opens in September 2011, will not only have plenty of interactive nature exhibits and classes for children and adults, but the Center will also offer a tour of its building, which boasts many green ideas including:

  1. The entrance to the building boasts recycled materials. The hickory leaves on display at the entrance are made from recycled soda bottles.
  2. The building’s washrooms have several conservation features which include hand dryers to save paper towels and landfill waste, automatic water sensors which save water and automatic flush toilets that also reduce water usage.
  3. Windows and skylights cuts the need for excessive lighting and energy use
  4. Geothermal heating and cooling system
  5. Concrete walls were used instead of drywall or other materials to also save on resources
  6. Regulated lighting system
  7. Low VOC-carpeting
  8. Exhibits were created to be reusable and moveable
  9. A semi-permeable pavers on the west side of the parking lot, which allows rain to percolate through, decreasing run-off and pollutants in waterways.

The exhibits are even ecofriendly! All of the paints, sealants, adhesives and even wood used throughout the exhibits are low-emitting materials, thus improving the air quality throughout the building.

Outdoors, the Discovery Center is green too! The native landscaping, which surrounds the Center have been treated with low amounts of herbicides, pesticides and water. So, the plants have deeper root systems and have adapted to drought conditions. Also, by planting gardens instead of turf less air pollution will be emitted by lawn mowers. Also, according to the Center, ” The Savannah and Birding Meadow are havens for our native animals, providing food, water and shelter. Even the building is benefitting from the shade of the Oaks, cooling on a hot summer day and decreasing our energy needs!”

Water gardens are situated near the parking lots, which collect rain water and is then filtered and absorbed by the plants, decreasing run-off.  There are plants growing on the Center’s roof too! The green roof absorbs water and decreases the heat island effect. So, the need for extra cooling is decreased, thus saving energy consumption.

So, check out the Hickory Knolls Discover Center — there’s more than just meets the eye. The Center is located at 3795 Campton Hills Road in St. Charles. For more information visit or call 630-513-4399.