The Sustainable Campus (Trends and Innovations)

An Award-Winning Green Campus

Have you been to the Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) campus in Springfield, IL, lately? If not, you’re invited to see how we’ve changed and grown over the last 10 years, including the establishment of nearly 16 acres of native prairie. A decade of efforts has resulted in a very sustainable campus that has been nationally recognized.

LLCC was one of only nine community colleges across the nation to receive the 2016 Green Genome Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and its Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center. The $10,000 prize, made possible through the Kresge Foundation, will be used to further support the college’s local foods initiative and to restore Lake Macoupin on the LLCC campus with native plantings.

These two particular projects impact not only the college but have community and global impacts as well. As interest in and support for the local food economy grows, LLCC is poised to propel the state’s local food movement forward by offering relevant job training, community education courses and campus and community outreach opportunities.

The Lake Macoupin Restoration Project, to evaluate the ecological health of the small campus lake, will connect over 100 students and community members, including the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Lake Springfield Watershed staffs, to provide data for national records each season.

How did LLCC become so “green?”

Where We Started

Ten years ago, the students, faculty and staff at LLCC made a commitment to campus sustainability by identifying ways to reduce energy and water use and “green” campus operations.

The college created a Green Center to serve as a resource for the LLCC and greater Springfield community on topics related to green jobs and sustainability. The college’s president, Dr. Charlotte Warren, also became active with the President’s Steering Committee of the new Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN). It was through her involvement that LLCC was able to offer enhanced green training and workshops. In addition, Dr. Warren signed the Carbon Commitment, a component of the Climate Leadership Commitments (previously know as the American College & Univeristy Presidents’ Climate Commitment), and worked with various individuals at LLCC to write a climate action plan for the college.

Next, the college created a Sustainability Team made up of faculty, staff and students. Recommendations from this team provide financial and resource conservation benefits to the campus and community. For example, the college instituted $1.2 million in energy-efficient upgrades to campus facilities, with an estimated cost recovery in six to seven years. These included replacement of aged boilers and chillers with high-efficiency units, constant-volume air handlers with variable-air-volume handlers, and installing energy-efficient windows. Also, the college installed energy-efficient T8 lighting and energy management systems.

The Sustainability Team further integrated sustainability into the fabric of the college by adopting the use of green cleaning products, switching all vending machines to ENERGY STAR-compliant models, requiring the campus foodservice provider to use biodegradable takeout containers and installing occupancy sensors in classrooms.

Our Ongoing Efforts

Partnering with the Public Relations and Marketing (PRM) office, the college held a campus recycling challenge. A college-wide contest to name the effort resulted in the slogan “Caught Green Handed.” For several days PRM student workers, wearing green logo shirts, roamed campus and “caught” people recycling, including the president, vice presidents, staff and students. Those “caught” were “handcuffed,” issued green gloves and their photo was taken and displayed.

The college’s paper reduction project — called “Think Before You Print!” — has reduced paper usage across campus by an average of 13 percent. Working with the IT department, the committee encouraged participation by using the college newsletter and campus-wide emails with tips for reduction and posters illustrating the consequences of our use on the environment.

In addition, LLCC has created new programs in value-added local foods, agricultural watershed and green facilities management. Community training and workshops are offered in weatherization, energy efficiency, green building, sustainable lawns and landscaping, and renewable energy for homeowners, and a local foods initiative with courses in vegetable and fruit production, local foods business management, organic farming, farm-to-table, canning and preserving. LLCC works with community partners to plan and host statewide educational workshops and conferences including a composting symposium, farm-to-school summit, and putting small acres to work.

Looking to the future, LLCC will remain diligent in its efforts to address the sustainability needs of our campus and community to reduce costs while saving valuable natural resources.

This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Julie Rourke is director, workforce development, for Lincoln Land Community College (www.llcc.edu).

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