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Waubonsee Voices: Protecting, promoting natural beauty boosts sustainability

Published: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 5:30 a.m. CST
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Dan Larsen

One of Waubonsee’s greatest assets is its beautiful campuses.

Protecting and promoting the natural beauty of the campuses is one of the top goals of the Campus Operations Department. While many similar institutions have well-groomed, highly maintained and manicured campuses, Waubonsee has a rich, rustic beauty that is hard to replicate.

This natural beauty is the result of the continued sustainability initiatives and practices the college has committed to throughout its existence. It is no secret that Waubonsee is growing, and the need to balance development with environmental sustainability is paramount to being good stewards of our natural environment.

As Waubonsee continues to grow to address the needs of the community, the development of new facilities is necessary. When constructing new facilities, a conscious effort needs to be made to employ sustainable building practices. A perfect example of this was the construction of the new field house at the Sugar Grove campus. During the design process, Waubonsee was careful to protect the nearby oak savanna by reducing the building footprint and reorienting the structure to avoid invading the root zone of the savanna.

Other sustainable features were incorporated as well, such as a rain recycling system to recapture rain water for use in irrigation, landscaping with native plants, and the installation of computerized high-efficiency interior climate controls, to name just a few. Even the parking lot was designed with a storm trap system that traps and filters stormwater before releasing it into the watershed.

At Waubonsee, we don’t just practice sustainability, we celebrate it and we are recognized for it. By showcasing Waubonsee’s sustainability efforts, we are also raising awareness of the things individuals can do to promote environmental stewardship in their communities.

This year’s Earth Week celebration was an event-packed week of activities showcasing sustainability and environmental stewardship. Professionals from organizations such as The Conservation Foundation, Morton Arboretum and the Kane County Forest Preserve District were on hand to give presentations on a variety of topics. Participants were able to learn about how to bring nature to their own yards and urban landscapes, the benefits of trees, proper recycling techniques and more.

The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the college as a Tree Campus USA designee for the past six years. The college is particularly proud of this achievement since there are only a handful of colleges across the country that have accomplished this achievement for six years consecutively. Another award that Waubonsee is extremely proud of is the Conservation at Work certification awarded by The Conservation Foundation as recognition of Waubonsee’s continued sustainability effort on its campuses.

Waubonsee will stay committed to maintaining and promoting its beautiful campuses.

Through partnerships with sustainable practice-orientated organizations such as the Kane County Forest Preserve District and The Conservation Foundation, we can ensure the college’s natural environment is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

• Dan Larsen is the director of campus operations at Waubonsee Community College.

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