• <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/30/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/45673_ENVIRONMENTAL_STUDIES_HEADER.rev.1531493113.png)"/>
  • <div style="background-image:url(/live/image/gid/30/width/1600/height/300/crop/1/29902_environmental_studies_group_header.rev.1450298247.png)"/>

Environmental Studies

Energy Efficiency & Transportation

Students taking a bike ride through the neighborhood streets.

Lake Forest College is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint by working to improve energy efficiency and by encouraging more sustainable forms of transportation and lawn care.

Beginning in 2012, cumulative energy usage data was collected to establish a baseline that will enable the Campus Sustainability Committee to target further reductions in usage.

Green Buildings

Buchanan Hall is home to the Education, Religion, and Theater departments, as well as Career Services, the Counseling Center, and the Health Center. Originally constructed in 1927, the building was renovated and expanded in the 1980s and then underwent a second renovation in 2007 which led to it becoming the college’s first officially LEED Certified building. The building is full of eco-friendly features from doors made from sustainably-harvested trees to dual-flush toilets.

The new Lillard Science Center will have green features such as a green roof, water bottle refilling stations, LED lights, and a green house when it is completed in the 2018-2019 academic year. Plans for a renovation and expansion of Young Hall have a focus on sustainability and the addition will likely also feature a green roof.

Lawn Care

The college began the transition from gas-powered equipment to powerful electric replacements in 2017.

There are four main advantages to using electric equipment over traditional gas powered tools:

  1. Zero emissions.
  2. Little noise.
  3. Zero gas.
  4. Low maintenance.

Leveraging the electric advantage removes the stresses of traditional gas powered mowers. Without the harmful fumes and obnoxious noises and with little maintenance and no more trips to the gas station, there is more time to focus on the actual job. The electric advantage over fossil fuels for outdoor power equipment is substantial to the environment. Since they are not “on-road” vehicles, the EPA has put very little effort into regulating emissions on gas-run equipment allowing them to become some of the worst polluters and the least efficient products on the market today. Electric equipment runs at close to 90% efficiency and only costs 5% of what one would pay to operate and maintain their gas engine rival.

After switching from gas to electric equipment for lawn care on North and Middle Campus, fuel usage went from 182 gallons per week in 2016 to 25 gallons per week in 2017. That is more than an 85% decrease in fuel usage! The college’s landscaping service, Mariani Landscape, charges the electric equipment at night and uses standard electric supply service from ComEd. Charging the equipment at night is more cost effective and energy efficient. At night, the demand is lower and nighttime charging makes use of the unused power that was generated by the electric company during the day that would otherwise be discarded and wasted.

Transportation

Mass transit: While there is no bus service to campus, the college does encourage ridership of the Metra commuter rail by offering discounted tickets to students, staff, and faculty and providing a free shuttle to and from the Metra station at various times at the beginning and end of each weekday.

Electric vehicles: There is a parking space dedicated to electric vehicles on Middle Campus, which gives drivers access to a 110-volt outlet. Charging from this outlet is slow, but is also free and provides the opportunity to get at least a bit of a charge. If this space is used regularly a second space has been identified that will also be dedicated to electric cars in the future. It is hoped that one of the college’s new building projects will include a more modern charging station where drivers can pay to charge their cars in a more timely fashion. 

Car sharing: The college uses Zipcar to encourage students to rent cars for short periods as needed, rather than have a car parked at the college, reducing the demand for parking spots and non-essential vehicle use. 

Bike transit: Facilities Management has installed a kiosk that provides a tire pump and tools for visitors, students, faculty, and staff who want to maintain their bicycles. The kiosk is located on Middle Campus next to Facilities Management on the pathway leading to North Campus. There are also bicycle racks conveniently placed all over campus where students can securely lock up with bikes.