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Buildings & Grounds

Sustainability Goal

Reduce the environmental impacts of Gateway’s campuses by using LEED Silver as the minimum standard and using sustainable practices in the maintenance of buildings and grounds.

Latest Achievements

Green buildings. Gateway follows State of Wisconsin policies that require new buildings and expansions to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard. While to date the college has not sought actual LEED certification, the Silver standard has been applied to all renovation and expansion projects. Recent major projects that contribute to meeting the LEED silver standard include:

  • Boiler replacements on the Kenosha, Racine and Elkhorn campuses, improving efficiencies from 60 percent to more than 90 percent.
  • Chiller replacements in Elkhorn and Racine, yielding 30 percent efficiency improvements.
  • Air handler upgrades in Racine, Kenosha and Elkhorn with premium-efficiency, load-matching motors and enhanced automated controls.

Energy audits. Gateway partners with Wisconsin Focus on Energy for energy audits and consulting. For example, a recent audit of the iMET Center found that 41 percent of electricity usage in the facility came from outdated lighting systems. Lighting was replaced with LED fixtures and controls, leading to energy and maintenance savings. 

Facility upgrades. The college is steadily upgrading building mechanical and control systems to improve heating and cooling efficiency and indoor comfort. This includes replacing aging boilers, chillers, air-handling units and ventilation systems. Additions and remodeling projects include up-to-date, energy-efficient systems. Among recent projects:

  • Elkhorn Student Life/Office renovation (2014) includes a high-efficiency boiler and chiller plant with energy recovery to replace inefficient rooftop units. It also included high-efficiency lighting, low-flow and no-flow plumbing fixtures, and xeriscaping.
  • The Elkhorn Veterinary Science Building renovation (2015) includes an energy-saving variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and cooling system, high-efficiency lighting, and xeriscaping.
  • The Elkhorn Manufacturing Building renovation and expansion (2015) includes energy recovery, high-efficiency lighting and xeriscaping. 
  • The Kenosha Student Life, Student Services/ Learning Success upgrade (2014-2015) includes updates to the heating/cooling systems and lighting, along with xeriscaping.Major roof replacements in Racine, Kenosha and Elkhorn include enhanced thermal insulation and cool roof designs that reflect sunlight to minimize summer heat gain.

Facility staff members also use continual commissioning, looking constantly at building performance and finding ways to adjust for efficiency. In facilities with building automation systems, staff members detect control and device malfunctions quickly and fix them before they waste substantial energy. Innovations include fresh air free cooling, using outside air to cool spaces when temperature conditions are favorable.

Lighting efficiency. Gateway has installed highly efficient LED lighting in all remodels and retrofits, achieving 50 percent savings in electricity and helping to lower cooling costs. New lighting installations also include enhanced controls and daylighting.

Water efficiency. During building expansions and remodels and wherever feasible, the college installs water-saving fixtures, including low-flow faucets, low-flow or waterless urinals, and dual-flush toilets. The grounds in Kenosha have rain sensors tied to the irrigation systems so that sprinklers do not operate when there is already enough moisture in the soil. New plantings use drought-tolerant species.

Chemical usage. The college uses fertilizers and herbicides only when necessary and uses environmentally friendly salt substitutes, such as potassium chloride and magnesium chloride, to melt ice on sidewalks and some parking areas. The college also employs cost-saving green practices in cleaning and paper usage in partnerships with local companies JohnsonDiversey and Kranz Inc. Proper product selection and best practices for use of cleaning products help safeguard the health and safety of building occupants and minimize impacts on the environment.

Space utilization. Initiatives are being taken to save energy by centralizing room scheduling and synchronizing schedules with lighting, heating and cooling controls. This enables automated shutoff of lighting and setback of temperatures when rooms, wings or entire buildings are empty. Software will soon enable optimal class scheduling. For example, if only a few classes are to be held on a given day, the software can schedule them all for the same building, saving on energy for lighting, heating and cooling.

Stormwater control. Where possible, drainage systems on college sites are designed to minimize runoff. For example:

  • The Racine campus worked with the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network to establish rain gardens at the Lake Building to reduce runoff into storm drains that empty into Lake Michigan.
  • On the Burlington and Elkhorn campuses, runoff from roofs and parking lots flows into retention ponds. The Elkhorn ponds encompass several acres and have become attractive landscape features.
  • A portion of the Racine Campus Technical Building has a 4.100-square-foot green roof planted with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant sedum perennials.
  • On the Kenosha campus, runoff from the Horticulture Building and greenhouse roofs collects in a 5,000-gallon cistern, used for watering plants in the greenhouse.

Brookhouse Arboretum. This arboretum, developed in 2015-16 next to the Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, now includes 54 trees. Plants and trees are selected by professional horticulturists who choose according to native character, strength of characteristics and novelty.

Bee awareness. Through a donation from Kenosha community members Kathy and Joseph Madrigrano Jr., a bee education center has been created at the Center for Sustainable Living. The purpose is to raise awareness about the dramatic loss of bees – essential pollinators of crops – through colony collapse disorder. Features include a mural, bee-friendly gardens, and programs discussing colony collapse disorder. The site is open to community workshops and activities and for school field trips.

Natural areas. There are one-acre native prairie plantings on the Racine, Elkhorn and Kenosha campuses and extensive natural areas around the Center for Sustainable Living. 

Plans for the future

Upgrades will continue to be integrated into facilities projects. For energy efficiency, the emphasis is beginning to switch to operational initiatives. The college continues to improve plans to utilize the new technology that has been installed.

Native plantings. Where feasible, the college will establish and maintain more areas of native vegetation and habitat.

Tree recognition. Within the next two years and where appropriate, the college will seek to acquire Tree Campus USA status from the Arbor Day Foundation, most likely beginning with the Racine campus. The college will also seek national accreditation for the Brookhouse Arboretum under the national Morton Register of Arboreta program.

Lawns and landscaping. The Buildings and Grounds team continues to explore options for sustainable maintenance, including environmentally friendly fertilizers and pesticides, used only when necessary.

Designer education. The college staff will work with architects and engineers to encourage them to “think green” in simple, affordable ways and design new-building and remodeling projects with local materials, energy-saving equipment, and features that support sustainability in operations and maintenance.

Life is Big. Be Prepared.