Sustainability Efforts At Judson
Judson University has been part of three major sustainability initiatives - the prestigious STARS program, the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact, and the Creation Care Discipleship Project - to provide accountability in our quest to become a more sustainable campus community.
AASHE STARS Program
In 2011, Judson University was awarded the Bronze level rating for sustainability efforts on campus, as a participant in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). Judson University is a charter member in the STARS program, which includes other prestigious schools like Yale University, Duke University, and Stanford University.
STARS is the Olympics of sustainability for schools. Universities that sign on to the program try to achieve points in as many sustainability-related criteria as possible to earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.
Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact
Judson University is also proud of its signature to the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact. The Compact is only for colleges within Illinois, and includes schools such as the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, Springfield and Chicago), Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University.
Like the STARS program, the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact awards Bronze, Silver or Gold status to each qualifying school. The Compact is different from STARS, though, in that it isn’t a point-based award. Instead, each school must meet all of the criteria for Bronze status before they can advance to Silver status.
Creation Care Campus Discipleship Project
This initiative for CCCU member schools was developed with input from the following organizations: Evangelical Environmental Network, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies, and AASHE.
Tyler Creek Re-Stabilization Project
Tyler Creek (a Fox River tributary) runs through the Judson campus. The creek has experienced a significant flooding problem in recent years due to upstream development. In an effort to stabilize the creek banks and water quality, the University initiated a planting project in 2008 to introduce trees, grasses, and other native plantings that would help stabilize the soil along the river banks.
Then, in 2011, the Illinois EPA arranged for funding to complete the stream re-stabilization process. "The project includes preparing design specifications for the installation of best management practices to stabilize approximately 830 feet of eroding streambank and 200 feet of eroding stream channel. In addition, 0.3 acres of riparian buffer will be installed. Streambanks will be stabilized using a combination of stone toe protection, vegetated geogrids, slope regrading, minor clearing of non-native vegetation, and re-vegetation of deep-rooted native plants. Stream channel stabilization will be achieved through the modification of two existing on-line dams into artificial riffles. The riparian buffer strip will be planted with native vegetation to filter runoff and help reduce fecal coliform loadings by discouraging waterfall from accessing the stream." (Source: Illinois EPA Agreement #3191106).
Our campus practices woodland conservation, indirectly impacting the preservation of habitat. We have a no-building zone along the river wetlands area and along the Tyler Creek area. Stream bank restoration projects over the past three years have also included plant species conducive to habitat preservation.
Over the past decade, Judson University has made a conscientious move towards sustainable landscaping practices. New landscaping includes:
- Trees and Shrubs: Kentucky Coffee Tree, Black Walnut, White Oak, Pin Oak, American Linden, River Birch, Northern Redbud, New Jersey Tea, Buttonbush, Gray Dogwood, American Witchhazel, Fragrant Sumac, Staghorn Sumac, Austrian Pine, Browns Yew, Purple Leaf Wintercreeper
- Stormwater Plantings: Brown Fox Sedge, Spike Rush, Virginia Wild Rye, Torrey’s Rush, Rice Cut Grass, Softstem, Swamp Milkweed, Water Plantain, Monkey Flower, and Broad-Leaf Arrowhead.
- Low Prairie Plantings: Little Blue Stem, Prairie Wild Rye, Prairie Switch grass, Prairie Drop Seed, Thimbleweed, Wild Columbine, Butterfly Milkweed, Smooth Blue Aser, While Wild Indigo, and Partridge Peas.
In addition to these plantings, Judson University has made significant ecological landscape improvements to the campus grounds. A 70-stall parking lot that was in the middle of a collection of campus buildings was moved to perimeter location which is nearly completely screened from view, but still in close proximity. It was replaced with a sustainable landscape “quadrangle” scheme that incorporates a series of complementary ecological elements including: down lighting; stormwater flow, control and storage; bioswale elements filtering phosphorous and other ground water pollutants; and infiltration through retention and permeable surfaces, with resultant evapo-transportation. Evapo-transpiration is a natural process that oxygenates the air and yields fresh air at the places of air intake at the nearby facilities. The indigenous landscape is significantly enhanced and protects biodiversity and ecosystems, while also serving as an outdoor classroom in ecology and sustainable landscape.