In recent years, the Facilities Management Department has made strides to promote sustainability in the upkeep of the College’s buildings and grounds.
Native and Woodland Plants
From natural herbicides to more efficient outdoor lighting, Facilities Management has adopted more environmentally sustainable practices for the College’s grounds. The department has switched the chemical content of its pesticides and herbicides. In plantings around campus, it is trying to include native materials and drought-resistant plants that require less water. It replaced several large lawn areas with prairie, native and woodland plants.
Department tractors have switched to low-sulphur diesel fuel from conventional gasoline. The department developed a campus-wide storm water detention plan. It installed back-flow prevention devices throughout campus to prevent contamination of domestic water mains. And it installed the first permeable paved parking area on campus to facilitate drainage and reduce the stress on the city’s storm system.
Air Purifiers and Efficient Lighting
The department added indoor air purifiers in several buildings to address concerns about air quality. It also redesigned kitchen exhaust systems to introduce fresh air at the hoods instead of exhausting conditioned air. It replaced the main campus boilers and the boiler at Elm Park Apartments with higher efficiency equipment.
To conserve water, it switched nearly all toilets on campus to the more efficient low-volume or dual-flush type. It also installed low-flow shower valves.
Several phases of lighting retrofits improved efficiency and reduced electrical consumption. Motion detectors installed in many classrooms automatically turn lights off when rooms are unoccupied.
In the area of maintenance, the department switched all paints and varnishes to products with low amounts of toxic compounds. It started using environmentally friendly cleaning products and retrained staff on their proper use. These two initiatives alone resulted in reducing air pollution by 30,000 pounds per year and also led to an award from the Clean Air Council.
Recycled materials are being purchased wherever possible. For example, the College is buying paper towels and toilet paper with 60 percent to 80 percent post-consumer content. Printer and copier paper has 30 percent post-consumer content. It is purchasing copiers with refillable toner cartridges.
Speaking of recycling, the College implemented a campus-wide program for cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass and plastic. There is an annual pickup of hazardous waste to keep oils, antifreeze, varnishes, photo chemicals and acid waste out of the waste stream. The department launched a recycling program for lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries, as well as inkjet cartridges. And it purchased equipment and trained employees to recycle fluorescent lamps in order to keep mercury out of the landfills.