The Sustainable Campus (Trends and Innovations)
An Award-Winning Green Campus
- By Julie Rourke
- December 1st, 2016
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.
Julie Rourke is director, workforce development, for Lincoln Land Community College (www.llcc.edu).