Elmhurst College has a long tradition of responsible stewardship of the environment. As early as 1871, the year of the College’s founding, a working farm on the campus provided students with locally grown produce for the dinner table as well as opportunities for healthy outdoor activity. In 1966, the College established the Elmhurst Arboretum to nurture the natural environment. Today, the College’s core values include a commitment to pursue innovations that respect the environment and foster sustainability in the management of our resources, and we incorporate green principles in every aspect of campus life. Here are some examples of our commitment to sustainable practices.
The Elmhurst Arboretum
Founded in 1966 with the planting of a single oak tree, the Elmhurst Arboretum has grown and flourished. Today, the campus boasts more than 800 trees and shrubs on campus, including 150 varieties, including many exotic and rare specimens. The most recent development is the establishment of a Prairie Garden along the western edge of the campus. Our Arboretum provides an inspiring environment for learning, and earned the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree Campus, USA” designation in February 2011.
In 2009, the College established a Sustainability Committee with faculty, student and staff membership. The Committee educates and leads the College community in creating a greener campus. The scope of its efforts, activities and accomplishments is seen in the Elmhurst College Sustainability Plan. This plan is a living document linked to the College Five-Year Strategic Plan.
The College’s tradition of education and student development continues in our sustainability initiatives. Since 2009, the Greenjays have been the student group providing a voice to student concerns and serving as a center for student involvement. Students serve on the College’s Sustainability Committee. And, perhaps most exciting has been the creation of the Living Green Team, whose members educate students about recycling and composting programs in the cafeteria. The team also is leading electronic recycling drives sponsored by the College and the City of Elmhurst.
Elmhurst’s newest residence hall also is the most ecologically innovative building. West Hall, which opened in August 2008, features sustainable design features such as 42 rooftop solar panels; energy-saving, motion-sensitive lighting; and a network of cisterns to capture and store rainwater. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded West Hall a silver rating in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. New buildings under development are being designed with LEED designation in mind.
Monitoring Our Carbon Footprint
In mid-2010, Affiliated Engineers of Madison, Wisconsin, completed an Environmental Impact Survey of the campus. In this first inventory, the consultants found that the College had made strides in containing its carbon footprint and had outperformed institutions of similar size in the region. Of additional significance, the survey serves as a benchmark to measure future programs. The second inventory and consultation is scheduled will be held in 2013.
Reducing Vehicle Traffic and Emissions on Campus
Since the mid-1990s, the College has made strides to reduce the number of motor vehicles on campus. We have prohibited freshmen from bringing cars to campus and we have expanded the College shuttle bus service to downtown Elmhurst and other popular locations. We also have begun purchasing electric-powered vehicles for the maintenance staff.
The Finer Touches
Our Facilities Management Department has adopted practices to make the environment healthier while reducing use of natural resources. These include use of low-impact lighting, permeable paving in our newest parking lot, low-flow shower and flush fixtures and low pollution cleaning and painting products. The College is seeking opportunities to expand recycling of paper, cardboard, glass and plastic, and is being more selective in its use of pesticides.
Your Ideas are Welcome
The College is looking for ideas and suggestions in advancing its tradition of sustainability. If you have a message for us or wish to get involved, please contact our Sustainability Committee.