What We Do
Triton College Program Board holds first-ever completely student-run sustainability event.
On Wednesday, April 10, Triton students attended a zero-waste sustainability party in the Student Center Cafeteria. Refreshments included snacks and punch served in recyclable containers. Activities included seed planting, making jewelry from recycled materials and playing a recycling game. Party-goers received educational materials, water bottles and reusable shopping bags. Student Program Board members conceived and executed the event in consultation with Sustainability Coordinator Adrian Fisher. Program Board President Jamie Depaolo and Advisor Maggie Duran said they were very pleased with the high turnout and participation. The event was part of a series of spring sustainability events sponsored by campus community members including the Science Department, Library, Sustainability Center, Health Services, Alumni Relations and Greening the Campus Committee.
As Triton's efforts toward sustainability continue, the administration has been considering how to incorporate the "zero waste concept" into the daily operations on Triton's campus. Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Any trash sent to landfills and incinerators is minimal. Zero waste events are a great way to showcase our commitment to the environment while creating a model for our students and community.
On November 15th, President Granados was pleased to host Triton's first Zero Waste event, the Green & Greet Game in the Robert Collins Building. Refreshments were served and while the Trojans took on the Moraine Valley Cyclones, Triton students facilitated a resource recovery station which helped students and guests properly sort and recycle their items from the evening's event. Special thanks is due to Ken Dunn, known as the 'Compost King,' for collecting our compostable items. Mr. Dunn is the Executive Director of the Resource Center located in the Chicago Metro area. The event was a success, and Dr. Granados says she looks forward to utilizing this method for future campus events.
Triton College has received a $15,000 grant from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation to create a pilot Green Business Certification program. Triton will be partnering with the Illinois Green Business Association to guide businesses located in Oak Park and River Forest through the certification process. The grant is part of funds awarded to projects that will help the two communities implement the PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan.
The Illinois Green Business Association uses vetted, national standards that help ensure truly sustainable business practices. Green business certification through IGBA includes a customized plan designed to help businesses save money and manage resources while helping make positive changes in their community. The standards are designed to be suitable for even the smallest local businesses. During the certification process, sustainability professionals at Triton will be available for consultation. Upon certification, businesses will receive customized marketing materials, including being interviewed for a YouTube video. Many businesses have found that advertising themselves as Green Certified has a positive impact on their customer base as well as the bottom line.
Triton is looking for twenty businesses to take part in the program. The College will be coordinating with the Oak Park Development Corporation to offer information sessions and recruit businesses who wish either to participate in OPDC's green business practices program, or go the whole route to certification. The first public information session will take place in early January.
Have you seen the new water bottle filling stations around campus? These refilling stations are designed to make it quick and convenient to use reusable bottles for water instead of single-use plastic bottles and sodas that often aren't recycled and end up in landfills. Each filling station has a counter to keep track of the number of bottles have been avoided. Over 50,000 bottles have been reduced thanks to everyone's efforts!
On Sept. 15, 2012 students and instructors met for the first official workday in Adena Woods, the Cook County Forest Preserve area adopted by the Triton College Sustainability Center. Led by Biology Instructors Joe Beuchel and Beth Cliffel, the event was part of the Des Plaines River Clean-Up Day. The group filled eight large and small trash bags with paper, plastic and broken glass, and two bags with recyclable plastic and glass bottles. Interesting finds included pottery shards, several small animal skulls and other skeleton parts, and the remains of an old saddle. The latter is a relic of the days when equestrian stables were near what is now Triton's campus and there were bridle paths through the woods. In addition, much debris was removed from the small creek that runs through the area. While they worked, students learned about local history, geography, and native plants. They also learned to identify poison ivy! All agreed that the hands-on field experience was a positive addition to their regular class work.
Triton's library has always been a preferred place to study, work on essays, and hang out to read or surf the internet. Yet there is always room to improve. As part of Triton's move towards sustainability, during April the facility was updated with new, brighter, energy-saving lighting and flooring made of 90% recycled materials. Concurrently, the Triton Sustainability Center donated funds both to purchase a display cart dedicated to green reading materials and to help expand the library's green resources collection. In addition, librarians created a LibGuide of sustainability resources available through the library, as well as online, which is available here: http://libguides.triton.edu/sustainability.
On April 16, 2012, the whole effort came together when a small dedication was held as part of Triton's Sustainability Month. About twenty-five students and staff gathered to celebrate the library's new, brighter look and new emphasis on making sustainability materials available to the campus and surrounding communities. After the dedication, the library held a film screening of Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time, followed by discussion.
The library's new lighting is part of a project grant funded through IGEN as part of the ICCTES program. It includes fluorescent tubes and prismatic fixtures that increase light output and illumination by 30%, while producing energy savings of 50%. As a result, the whole atmosphere in the library has noticeably changed for the better. Other areas retrofitted on campus are selected classrooms, the gymnasium, and the cafeteria. The gymnasium's old sodium lighting was replaced and wattage went from 400 Watts per fixture down to 128 Watts, while output increased 30%. In the cafeteria, the overall number of fixtures was reduced and wattage was reduced from 400 Watts to 128 Watts per fixture, yet brightness remained the same. The lighting project as a whole will save 440,000 KW hours per year, producing a dollar savings of $44,000 annually.
In April 2012 we hosted a free screening of Green Fire, a film that highlights Aldo Leopold's extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. A discussion will follow the screening.
Early in 2012, Triton College completed switchgear installation in all buildings on campus. Prior to this, Triton had one campus-wide meter and has historically spent approximately $100,000 a month on electricity. The new system will enable John Lambrecht, AVP of Facilities, and his staff to accurately monitor how much power is being used in each building. They first will establish a baseline; once they know and can trend the figures, they will initiate more aggressive management to reduce unnecessary electricity use. Another advantage of the new system is real-time notification of power spikes, for easier, faster troubleshooting. Lambrecht says he is looking forward to getting the data, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing Triton's energy bills.
IGEN's Career Pathways Consortium was awarded a grant by the Federal Department of Labor. Triton College will be hosting a regional coordinator to aid colleges in working together. A Sustainable Landscape Practices and Agriculture Technology Program is also being created at Triton with this grant support.
The ICCTEMT Program Triton College participated in 2011 was funded through the IL DCEO Building Industry Training Education (BITE) program with the goal to identify, implement and assess multiple, comprehensive energy management and job training workshops, technical assistance seminars, behavior change awareness campaigns, and energy-related conferences for Illinois Community College staff, students and general business community members.
Triton College has partnered with Protrain Online to offer a variety of online courses for Green/Renewable Energy training. Browse Green Offerings here.
During the summer of 2011, Triton College replaced its outdoor lighting with energy-efficient LED lights. The previous 100 watt metal halide lighting consisted of 173 poles with 306 lamps. These were all replaced with 35 watt LED fixtures. Where the old fixtures used 1840 watts per pole, the new ones use 422 watts per pole. In addition, 25 poles (50 fixtures) were added to target existing dark areas. John Lambrecht, associate vice-president of facilities, expects that, besides improving overall safety and visibility, the change will lead to annual energy savings of 58 percent, helping Triton lower its carbon footprint while saving over thirty thousand dollars each year.
In addition, the shielded fixtures and LED lights are in compliance with International Dark Sky Association guidelines. IDA promotes the reduction of light pollution through appropriate lighting design. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of inappropriate nighttime lighting (particularly blue-rich light of the sort emitted by early LEDs), which can disrupt ecosystems and interfere with wildlife and human circadian cycles. It is only in the last several years that manufacturers have improved LED technology to the extent that it is both bright and of a "color temperature" that minimizes excessive blue (short wavelength) light.
Triton's new fixtures feature new-generation LEDs and will target light where it's needed, helping to prevent excessive uplighting. Not only will the lighting be an improvement, but the supplier, BetaLED, says that the LED circuit boards, drivers, wires and connectors are all non-hazardous, mercury-free, and RoHS compliant; the aluminum poles and housings are made using 20-25 percent post-consumer recycled materials; and 70 percent (by weight) of these fixtures are readily recyclable.
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