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CLC Leads the Way Toward Sustainability

The College of Lake County celebrates Earth Week.

How green is CLC?

The College of Lake County’s Sustainability Coordinator Dara Reiff gave students an overview of green efforts on campus as well as those that reach into the Lake County community at a discussion on Tuesday as part of the college's Earth Week events.

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CLC’s green efforts got a big boost with the hiring of a sustainability coordinator in 2009 and launching of the CLC Sustainability Center. Reiff explained that CLC President Jerry Weber is an advocate for sustainability and has provided leadership for the Illinois Green Economy Network, a partnership of Illinois community college districts that works to grow a green economy in Illinois. 

The green effort at CLC has three branches – campus, curriculum and community. 

Greening the CLC campus means reducing the college’s carbon footprint, Reiff said. One of the first efforts when she was hired as sustainability coordinator was to calculate the carbon footprint. Although 25 percent of greenhouse gases attributable to CLC come from commuting, a whopping 56 percent is due to electricity use. 

The campus has a master plan for reducing its carbon footprint to 0 by 2042. It will start by reducing it by 5 percent by 2017.

The campus has already started to replace its lighting with more energy-efficient options. CLC will also start to use more motion sensor lighting and daylight sensors. Reiff explained that some areas of the building are well lit by natural lighting; daylight sensors would take advantage of natural light with lights turning on only when needed. The campus is also looking at using space more efficiently. For instance, on weekends, only certain areas of the campus would be utilized to conserve energy.

As CLC expands, new buildings would be built to be more energy efficient and old buildings would be retrofitted, she said.  Reiff also added that changing people’s behaviors could conserve a lot of energy.

“Behavior changes would include getting people to turn off the lights when they leave a room and having faculty turn off their computers when they go home,” she said.

CLC started measuring its garbage output in 2009 and has seen a steady decrease. Over three years, the campus has reduced its solid waste output from 152,000 lbs. of garbage or the equivalent of 10 male elephants to 115,000 lbs. of garbage or 7.5 elephants.

The college has added courses on sustainability to its curriculum as well as academic programs, such as Sustainable Design and Construction.

CLC’s push towards sustainability involves the Lake County community as well with efforts like the Community Garden and County Green.

The CLC Community Garden is extremely popular, Reiff said. In its first year, 2009, all 35 plots sold out immediately. The garden expanded to 50 plots and now CLC has a lottery to fill them. The popularity of the garden led to the realization that there is a great demand for community gardens. CLC has been helping other Lake County communities to set up community gardens.

The annual County Green conference is a one-day event that brings together members of the community to discuss green issues and spur action toward sustainability. This year’s conference will be held at CLC on May 17. The theme is "Water, Food and the New Green Economy: Working Toward a Sustainable Lake County."

For more information about CLC’s green efforts, visit the CLC Sustainability Center online.

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