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Greening Our Campuses

Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact
The Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact outlines environmental goals that public and private colleges and universities may adopt on their campuses. Oakton has committed to reaching the Silver Level by 2015, which includes setting measurable sustainability objectives with realistic timelines in areas such as: energy consumption, water use, storm water runoff, vehicle use, local food purchases, paper use, habitat preservation, and greenhouse gas emissions; and implementing sustainability best practices in green purchasing, hosting community events focused on sustainable action, and greening our curricula. In September 2014, the College was recognized for reaching the Bronze Level at the annual Governor’s Sustainability Awards ceremony.


  • Biology and science students use the campuses as living laboratories.  At Des Plaines, the forest preserve and lake offer many educational opportunities. 
  • Green classes.
  • “Food Matters” service learning initiative.


  •  Completed in 2010, Oakton’s community gardens at both campuses – open to all students, employees, and district residents – are examples of small, sustainable agriculture and a place for learning and community. Each garden includes 15 4’ x 12’ plots, framed with a long-lasting wood substitute. Garden produce goes home with volunteers or is donated to food pantries and community centers.
  • Oakton celebrates Earth Day each year with speakers, recycling campaigns for plastic bags, forest preserve and community garden clean ups, and displays.
  • The College received a Native Landscaping and Conservation Award from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness in 2010 for restoring 50 acres of woodland and reconstructing seven acres of grassland.
  • Oakton received $49,155 from Commonwealth Edison for agreeing to reduce the College’s electricity use during summer “brown outs,” which put a heavy strain on the regional power grid.


  • Created arboretum; planted hundreds of trees.
  • Adopt-a-tree Program enhanced the arboretum around the lake.
  • Oakton's Ecology Club involves students in a range of "green" activities. The Club created loating platforms for turtles and fish houses at the bottom for fish to hide in, and placed cocoa mats to cover the bank and prevent erosion.
  • The College shifted to online billing in 2010 – eliminated 25,000 paper bills.
  • Recycled approximately 10,000 pounds of steel when replacing gym bleachers.
  • Replaced drives and motors of HVAC equipment with more energy-efficient parts – Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development provided a $75,000 rebate.
  • Solar panels on Des Plaines roof heat about 35 percent of building’s water – reducing electricity by 85,000 kilowats and saving $8,000 annually.
  • Fluorescent bulbs replaced with CFLs; motion detectors and timers ensure that lights go off in empty rooms.
  • Non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Green-certified paper products (toilet paper, paper towels)
  • Nine air hand dryers at both campuses reduce paper towel use
  • Use of organic fertilizers when possible.
  • Building Together -- our Facilities Master Plan -- includes a “commitment to a green college”
  • Campus Green Committee guides new initiatives.
  • Disposal boxes placed along the shore offer a safe place to discard fishing line, a potential choking or strangling hazard to local wildlife.
  • Negotiated with food service vendor to eliminate packaged condiments and replace with large containers in an effort to reduce garbage.


Student Profile

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Jason Nwosu embraces the challenges college brings – both inside and outside the classroom.