Campus sustainability a high priority at Parkland

Peter Cowley

Staff Writer

Photo by Billi Jo Hart/Prospectus News Parkland Colleges strives to keep its campus environmentally friendly by maintaining natural areas, like this pond outside of the M Wing.

Photo by Billi Jo Hart/Prospectus News
Parkland Colleges strives to keep its campus environmentally friendly by maintaining natural areas, like this pond outside of the M Wing.

Parkland College has been working hard to make sure its facilities are both energy efficient and environmentally friendly. New ideas to promote sustainability have sprouted at Parkland in an effort to make the school more “green,” and faculty members as well as students are making an effort to make the change around campus.

“The dream of the community is to find sustainability projects on Parkland’s campus by establishing a green revolving fund,” Hilary Valentine, Manager of Creative Services said. “This would help us to see what we’ve done and how done it saved us money, so that more can be put into more sustainability projects.”

Greg Walburg, faculty member of Engineering Sciences and Technologies explained that the Sustainable Campus Committee has been working to involve students in the cause.

“Last year we were involved in the Nationwide Conservation Nationals. Phi Theta Kappa worked to help reduce energy usage in buildings as part of that competition, and help us document the data achieved,” Walburg said.

Many students were directly involved in national energy competitions coordinated in the spring by Walburg. These projects took over the space of two campus buildings, and two groups competed against each other with their projects.

The projects being worked on now have data loggers that show students and everyone else how much energy the campus is using. The business club also worked with the committee to help promote green ideas around the campus.

There is a natural prairie on the eastern side of the campus where native plants are grown, as well as a pond that will help keep Parkland green. Campus Sustainability Day nationwide is coming this October, which will have activities for students to be involved with, with its most popular activity being the planting of milkweed in some of Parkland’s gardens. The milkweed will attract monarch butterflies to the campus, and provide a simple yet beautiful treat for the students to see from day to day.

New construction on campus has also made a considerable effort to keep a green thumb. The Student Union was designed using the most up to date heating and cooling units, and was also built to make best use of natural light.

The sun rises in the east, where all of the windows in the new building are facing. It was oriented so that it would track the movement of the sun and maximize the amount of light in the building, making it a warm and attractive environment for students.

When the Student Union was being built, there were extremely stringent rules that went along in making sure that all wood and all plastic could be recycled.

There are an abundance of things the new Student Union building provides that gets students with involved in making a sustainable impact, in ways that students may not even notice. All of the restrooms located in the U Wing have eliminated paper towel dispensers, and have replaced them with air hand dryers. There have also been trash bins with separate land-fill and recyclable cans for the students to throw their waste in throughout all of Parkland, and many rooms with overhead lighting are triggered with motion sensors, so energy is not wasted when a room is empty.

There is a campaign beginning this year that will develop more signage and more information regarding visual descriptions for more green tidbits.

“The biggest impact on Parkland’s carbon footprint is the use of cars, since so many students drive,” Seamus Reilly, Vice President of Administration said. “Parkland is incorporating ways to encourage students to use more energy efficient ways of getting to school, and since the students of Parkland are rather well-versed in using public transportation or riding their bikes to classes, it is quite possible to educate the students of the new ways that they can contribute.”

If you are interested in seeing the energy usage of Parkland’s campus, please visit, log in as, and use password: cobras2014.