Have you been to the Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) campus 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. LLCC involvement in these areas has grown as the demand for locally grown produce and other goods continues to increase across the state.
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”?
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 American College and University 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 windows with energy efficient models. 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. The college’s paper reduction project called “Think Before You Print!” has reduced paper usage across the campus by an average of 13 percent.
We recently again sponsored Campus Sustainability Day with tours of our community garden and high tunnels, native prairie and bee hives; and a “Lunch and Learn” presentation at our outdoor classroom.
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.