The College of Lake County has made the list of overall "top performer" schools in environmental sustainability, placing eighth among two-year colleges in North America, according to a report released Nov. 6 by the Philadelphia-based Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The rating marks the fourth time in 18 months that the college has been recognized nationally for its sustainable efforts.
The report, known as the 2017 Sustainable Campus Index, recognizes high-achieving colleges and universities overall by institution type and in 17 sustainability areas related to curriculum, community engagement, campus operations and administration. AASHE uses reporting process known as STARS, an acronym for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™, said David Husemoller, CLC sustainability manager. CLC and 302 other participating colleges and universities submitted STARS reports.
The report highlighted CLC's accomplishments such as the campus farm and an eight-hive apiary (bee colony) that expands local food production. Honey from the apiary is sold in Café Willow on the Grayslake Campus and at LancerZone bookstores on all three campuses. The campus farm uses integrated pest management and organic methods to grow vegetables and greens for sale at the farm market and Café Willow. Additionally, CLC's food service provider works to identify and promote items that are grown on campus with a special logo. CLC closes the loop by collecting food scraps and returning them to the campus farm for composting, Husemoller said.
"We are honored to be recognized with this top-performer rating from AASHE," said CLC Interim President Dr. Rich Haney. "Sustainability is one of CLC's strategic priorities, and faculty, staff and students have been working tirelessly to promote environmental stewardship inside and outside of the classroom."
Husemoller added, "This is another exciting achievement because CLC is once again being recognized at the national and international level, as many colleges and universities outside of North America belong to AASHE."
The top-performer rating comes in the wake of three other national "green" awards. In August, CLC received a STARS® silver rating from AASHE, which noted how the college's Grayslake Campus functions as a living laboratory for sustainability. AASHE cited CLC's $148 million sustainable master plan, which includes new and renovated buildings designed to meet LEED Gold and Platinum standards. Other examples cited include CLC's three distinct academic programs related to sustainability and 23 percent of college course offerings contain all or some element of sustainability in course material.
Besides the AASHE recognition, the college's new Science Building received in May an exclusive Emerald Award for Building Innovation from the Illinois chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. The Science Building is scheduled to open in January and contains sustainable features ranging from solar panels to rainwater recovery. Also, in October 2016, CLC was one of nine community colleges nationwide to receive a $10,000 Green Genome award from the American Association of Community Colleges. The award recognized CLC for incorporating sustainability into its governance structure and overall college culture.
Since the college began implementing the sustainable master plan, CLC has saved operational costs with reduced utility bills. Energy-saving LED lights have been installed in campus parking lots, and the new geothermal heating and cooling system is expected to trim energy costs by up to 50 percent in two wings on the Grayslake Campus, Husemoller said.
For details on the 2017 Sustainable Campus Index, visit www.aashe.org. Learn more about CLC's sustainable efforts at www.clcillinois.edu/gogreen, and details of the master plan are available at www.clcillinois.edu/masterplan.
CLC's Spring Semester begins Jan.16. To view course offerings and learn how to become a student, visit www.clcillinois.edu/spring.