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 Libraries Combine Green with Knowledge

Did Benjamin Franklin think when he developed the idea for the public library that the library would become a second home for many of us? In my opinion libraries have a cozy feel to them — they’re almost like a second home. All of those books and music in one place, not to mention the computers and other services a library has to offer. Who needs to go home? Over the past 25 years libraries have become more than a place to visit when you need to write that dreaded book report or state report; libraries have become the hub of information for a community. This can clearly be seen currently duing the United States’ recession. Libraries have stepped up and have assisted their patrons in developing job hunting strategies by offering seminars and databases chock full of information.

Libraries’ main focus has always been to provide information and offer knowledge to their patrons. Recently, libraries have taken that knowledge one step further and have used it gor the greater good — to go green. Of course, the most famous library that has gone green is Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center, which boasts a secret garden of its own on top of its roof, but several suburban libraries have gone one step further in the green movement.

One of the most recently added green libraries to the Chicago area is the Addison Public Library, located in Addison, Ill., which incorporates such green features as green roofs, low-emissivity (Low-E) insulated glass, flooring made out of bamboo and cork, and extensive use of natural sunlight.

Addison Public Library

Addison Public Library

Already known for its historic Frank Lloyd Wright homes, the Oak Park Public Library in Oak Park, Ill. is in the process of implementing a green roof.

Located in northwest suburban Illinois and one of the largest cities in the state, the Rakow Branch of Elgin’s Gail Borden Library will contain many eco-friendly features including a geothermal well system and natural light design. According to a recent issue of the library’s newsletter, “Library officials anticipate that the Rakow Branch will receive silver or gold LEED certification.”