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 and implementing sustainability best practices. 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 educational opportunities. 
  • Green classes.
  • “Food Matters” service learning initiative.


  • Completed in 2010, Oakton’s community gardens at both campuses are examples of small, sustainable agriculture, offering 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, forest preserve and community garden clean up, 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."


  • Created arboretum; planted hundreds of trees.
  • Adopt-a-tree Program enhanced the arboretum around the lake.
  • Oakton's Sustainability Club involves students in a range of "green" activities. The Club created floating platforms for turtles, fish houses for fish, and placed cocoa mats to cover the bank and prevent erosion.
  • Moved 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 kilowatts and saving $8,000 annually.
  • Fluorescent bulbs replaced with CFLs; motion detectors and timers ensure that lights turn when rooms are unoccupied.
  • Nontoxic cleaning products.
  • Green-certified paper products.
  • Nine air hand dryers at both campuses.
  • Use of organic fertilizers when possible.
  • Campus Green Committee guides new initiatives.
  • Disposal boxes placed along the shore offer a safe place to discard fishing line — a potential choking hazard to wildlife.
  • Negotiated with food service vendor to eliminate packaged condiments and replace with large containers in an effort to reduce garbage.