College of Lake County

College of Lake County integrates environmental sustainability throughout campus and works towards measurable sustainability improvements. The college is working towards the goals set in their Sustainable Master Plan, including installing bioswales/rain gardens, construction of LEED-certified buildings, and retrofitting old equipment with LED technologies. The campus offers hands-on opportunities by installing a kiosk to directly show students how the energy is utilized in the school. The college is becoming a “living laboratory” which provides multiple learning opportunities for students about sustainable practices.

Student Preparedness           

The College of Lake County Sustainability Plan opens with a message from their President Dr. Jerry Weber, calling for the implementation of green technologies on campus that will benefit their natural resources, help them to move toward climate neutrality, and benefit their students. This spring CLC has begun installing green technologies identified in the Sustainable Master Plan, including a state of the art HVAC systems, energy efficient construction, bioswales/rain gardens, and renewable energy systems. CLC echoes the call from the ACUPCC to provide “students with the knowledge and skills needed to address the critical, systemic challenges faced by the world in this new century and enable them to benefit from the economic opportunities that will arise as a result of solutions they develop.”

The new building technologies associated with the Master Plan will help CLC to further its goal of being a “living laboratory.” In order for the new construction to provide the living lab experiences, instructors will need support in incorporating these tools into their curricula. Over the coming year, CLC is embarking on a year-long Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), which will “investigate how sustainability can be integrated throughout the college into the core practices of teaching and learning.” Learning opportunities will expand beyond sciences and trades to consider the humanities, social sciences and arts. These applied learning experiences will go beyond the enrolled student body to include visitors from the community. Interpretative signage for a “trail of sustainability” is being planned to identify the sustainable features on campus.

Climate Innovation

College of Lake County offers a variety educational programs that are directly linked to climate. Biology students have the benefit of being able to study climate impacts on microorganisms in water samples and tree health right on campus. Community members can take enrichment classes on gardening to discuss changing plant hardiness zones. The sustainable landscapes class retrofitted two campus green roofs, demonstrating how plants can help mitigate climate impacts of stormwater runoff and temperature extremes.

College of Lake County offers several opportunities for hands-on learning about the implications of climate. A kiosk installed in the lobby shows how much electricity and natural gas the college is utilizing, and how much solar energy is being produced to heat hot water. This kiosk can help viewers to see the difference that climate can have on energy usage and carbon emissions.

During this academic year, the College of Lake County held several events to raise awareness about the implications of climate change for CLC staff/faculty/students and members of the community. CLC celebrated Climate Week with a viewing of the AMC series “Years of Living Dangerously.” CLC’s Dean of Biology and Health Sciences has studied climate science and hosted one of the monthly STEM sessions on climate change in November. That session was so well attended it was repeated during Earth Week.

CLC is hosting its annual Lake County Green regional conference on May 27. This year’s keynote speaker will facilitate a conversation among leaders about adapting business strategies for climate change and workforce education.

Creating Opportunity

College of Lake County has been committed to increasing energy efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint, and to working with community partners to facilitate the process. CLC regularly works with a state contacted agency to retro-commission its aging buildings to increase heating and cooling systems. CLC has been slowly retrofitting its conventional metal halide light fixtures with LED technology, as funding is available.

The big news is that CLC is investing $148 million for the construction of its Sustainable Master Plan Projects, to be funded by a combination of sources, including bond sales, college reserves, and state funding. Projects began with the installation of grant-funded solar thermal water heating systems and some remodeling last fall and winter. This spring, CLC broke ground on its new Science Building, which is designed to LEED Platinum standards. The drilling of over 100 geothermal wells has begun as well. Construction on the new Core and Café will begin shortly this summer, designed to LEED Gold standards. The Sustainable Master Plan covers all three campuses with other buildings designed to LEED Platinum and Gold standards.

New buildings will have their own PV solar panels to demonstrate renewable energy. CLC is working with local utilities to seek additional funding for PV panels. The grounds and parking lots will also be improved with more native, drought-resistant plantings, bioswales and rain gardens for stormwater treatment. In fact CLC is partnering with the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission to help fund additional stormwater BMPs around parking lots and lake shoreline.