Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Bert Jacobson
Submission Date Feb. 3, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Kankakee Community College
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Bert Jacobson
Dean, Environmental and Institutional Sustainability
Environmental and Institutional Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing Yes
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment No
Public Engagement Yes
Other ---

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

We had an opportunity to build a new LEED Gold extension center in the middle of an industrial area near Kankakee and, since indoor air quality is one of the features of the building, faculty have used the building as a focus for student assignments in sustainability. Professor Tim Wilhelm introduces climate in all of his solar PV, solar thermal, and small-wind classes as an integral consideration in those technologies--he then applies that knowledge to installations on campus for capstone projects. Our psychology professor and our environmental biology professor incorporate climate assignments to students in their classes using the campus as an example. We also stress the minimal climate impact with geothermal, minimal landscaping and other LEED features in many of our classes.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 10, 2015

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Professor Wilhelm also uses an energy dashboard to demonstrate the amount of renewable energy the solar arrays provide for the building. A proifessor of Business Writing assigns students each year an assignment to make sustainability improvements on campus--many of the essays address the building environment and provide suggestions how we can make the buildings more efficient.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 6, 2015
+ Date Revised: Feb. 10, 2015

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

We have hired a new Dining Service and I am working closely with their management team to make it a living laboratory. It is a work in progress--we still have Styrofoam cups and plates (although that is changing), we are considering a reusable and recyclable serving dish for students, and considering a business plan to achieve a Green Restaurant award. We are on track to eliminate bottled water sales. The Students for Eco-Quality are selling reusable mugs and intend to begin selling reusable water bottles when the mugs run out. Students are active in the planned changes to make the Dining Service more sustainable.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students are very active in our Renewable Energy program and are installing solar panels on our buildings and buildings off campus. We have replaced all lighting with more energy efficient options and are currently replacing our outside lighting with LEDs. Our small-wind technology students will be maintaining our 50 kW wind turbine in a few years when our maintenance contract expires.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

One of our horticulture classes redesigned the entry into our main campus entrance by replacing all turf grass with native plantings, and our construction and horticulture students have transformed a retention pond into a beautiful habitat with native plantings and a walkway through it. The habitat area is used by students, faculty , and staff for education as well as relaxing outside.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Student Advisory Council has recommended using recycled paper and double-sided default printing. Faculty have accommodated a request to meet a printing quota for students as they request assignments, especially those that require PowerPoint presentations. KCC's Horticulture students are assigned projects that include the growing and selling of local produce from the campus greenhouse and fish from the aquaponics system. Professors systematically include student assignments that relate to sustainability and often the assignments address purchasing decisions by the college.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 6, 2015
+ Date Revised: Feb. 10, 2015

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

We offer our students discounted bus tickets for travel to campus (or, really, anywhere in the district). We have also made it possible for students to purchase the discounted tickets with grant funds. The effort has decreased student reliance on personal transportation. An English professor who is an avid bicyclist includes in her class assignments topics on bike trails, bicycling to class, etc. Students periodically suggest in their sustainability assignments ideas about bike rack placement, bus shelters, etc.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 16, 2015

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

We have a fairly robust recycling system at KCC that includes paper, glass, plastic, aluminum cans, cardboard, batteries, cell phones, other metal, and pallets. Students have regularly tried to participate in the recycling system to either make some money for their clubs or to re-arrange the recycling bins to see if they could increase the recycling rates.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students for Eco-Quality have requested water bottle filling stations ("hydration stations") in convenient areas around campus. To date, students, faculty, and staff have saved more than 31,868 disposable plastic bottles from going to the landfill, and saving $50,670.12 in water purchases(@ $ 1.59 per bottle of water in the cafeteria), for 8,413 gallons (1L = 0.264 gal)). The student club also sells reusable mugs to raise funds for their club. Students for Eco-Quality and Phi Theta Kappa students were so focused on water that they partnered with a local Rotary Club to raise funds and send "Water Straws" (a device to suck clean water from a dirty source) to a community in Africa. Students and faculty use our natural habitat (developed from an old retention pond) for class projects.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 6, 2015

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

The Dean for Environmental and Institutional Sustainability is the focal point for all sustainability initiatives, strategic planning and leadership development. This central focus has been instrumental in infusing and coordinating sustainability related materials among the faculty, students, and staff. In our strategic planning, Master Planning, and academic planning, sustainability is integrated to some degree. As a member of the President's Cabinet, the Dean also is able to keep sustainability integrated at the highest levels in the college. Strategic Committees are formed to address each of the strategic goals and involve student, faculty, and staff input; and the committees are aligned with the Higher Learning Commission's expectations for accreditation. Students see KCC as a living lab for coordination, planning, and governance in their voice for changes (Student Advisory Council), interviews and class assignments with the Dean of Environmental and Institutional Sustainability, helping to plan for Sustainability Week activities (which often includes presentations from their class assignments), etc. The two main positive outcomes of this work are improvements to the processes and a sense of ownership on the part of the students.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 16, 2015

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

From the students' perspective our campus is very diverse with student clubs for Brother-to-Brother, Catholic Student Alliance, Gay Straight Alliance, Sister Circle, as well as many others like Phi That Kappa, Lambda Epsilon Chi, and Student Nurses Association. We strive to represent the communities we serve in all of our hiring decisions and our Selection and Interviewing Committees are instructed to review a diverse field of applicants. On the affordability side, we have been successful keeping our tuition and fees at or below the state average for community colleges and we work hard to give as much funding as we can to students through college grants and state and federal assistance.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Perhaps the best example of students hands-on involvement with Health, Wellbeing and Work is our annual Health and Wellness Fair put on by our Health Careers students and representatives of the local hospitals, police and safety units, the local health department, and others. Our college is a demonstration site for the local hospitals who , between the two of them, hire all of our graduates.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

We are working with our Foundation to consider green investments and the divestiture from fossil fuels. The Executive Director of the Foundation is sensitive to sustainability needs and continuously forwards sustainable investment materials to her Board of Directors. Some of the outstanding investments are in the area of student scholarships--an area of great hands-on-student involvement and the Awards for Excellence and Innovation Awards.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Students, faculty, and staff are members of many local organizations like Rotary, Kiwanis, the Economic Alliance, Chambers of Commerce, etc. and through these groups keep the community appraised of college efforts, including sustainability, and periodically bring these groups to campus. One very successful and sustainability-focused community engagement initiative is our Green Drinks. The program was developed by our Council for Community Sustainability, comprised of members from the community as well as our students, faculty, and staff. Currently there are approximately 150 participants on our mailing list for the monthly presentation/discussions..


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

Our campus is a living laboratory for area employers. I mentioned the relationship with area hospitals, but there are also relationships with business, manufacturing, and other community partners that enable our college to be a demonstration of sustainable practices and students being well-prepared for the local workforce, but also that make possible internships and a flow of our graduates to local jobs.


The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:

There is no specific URL for information about the college's campus as a living lab because it is not so much a program as it is a mission which touches many projects, curricula, activities, and designs. I have offered the URL of our Annual Sustainability report that addresses some of those projects, While I addressed the specifics of each area of the campus that are used as a living lab, I need to note that several professors call out these features in class. One professor uses a theme of "place" to help students appreciate the features of a sustainable campus; another has students write memos to the Dean of Environmental and Institutional Sustainability about suggestions for improving the campus sustainability. There are over two dozen professors who see the value in presenting the campus as a living lab.

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